Hannibal utility applies strategic planning to technology upgrades
Originally published June 21, 2013
When Matthew Jones, IT senior specialist for the Hannibal Board of Public Works in Missouri, attended a summit on the smart grid in 2008, he left the meeting inspired to take a more strategic approach to technology planning for his 9,000-customer utility.
The utility issued a request for qualifications to identify a consultant to help it develop a comprehensive plan for upgrading and integrating lots of technology needs, including advanced metering, a customer information system, outage management, automated vehicle location, geographic information and other systems, Jones said. He spoke about the project during a breakout session on June 17 at the APPA National Conference in Nashville, Tenn.
The consultant search led Hannibal to Power System Engineering. The company worked with all staff departments at the Hannibal electric and water utility to identify utility goals and help assess how technology can enable the utility to meet its goals most effectively. Candace Roth and Rick Schmidt of Power System Engineering appeared with Jones at the conference session to describe the approach they used to help the Hannibal BPW develop its strategic technology plan.
Utilities need to look at what technologies they want to deploy and determine a timeline for investing in new technology over the next three, five and 10 years, said Roth.
Architecture considerations are important, said Schmidt. There are pros and cons to using an integrated suite of software that addresses multiple needs, versus deploying the best software for each need, he said. Integration issues are simplified with the former, but functionality may be higher when utilities opt for the "best in class" software and complete a custom integration. He also talked about work to develop an enterprise service bus to facilitate integration of multiple software packages.
Jones, Roth and Schmidt talked about the project in a video segment following their panel discussion. The video is posted on Public Power TV.
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