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Defence and Space

Airbus Logo

Defence and Space

Airbus Logo

Defence and Space

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Southern Company Monitors Utility Rights-of-Way Encroachments

With AI-Based 50cm Pléiades Image Analysis from Satelytics

Challenge

Southern Company, a major U.S. gas and electric utility was looking for a cost-effective way to monitor encroachments in transmission line corridors. Southern Company is the holding entity for three utilities – Georgia Power, Alabama Power and Mississippi Power. The utility often investigates new techniques for delivering services more efficiently to ratepayers across the three states.

In this pilot project with Satelytics, Southern Company needed to find new construction along the corridors in its early stages when moving a structure is still possible. The utilities own the right-of-way where the transmission line corridors are located, but they don’t own the properties.

Encroachment into the corridor is usually accidental, involving a landowner who incorrectly judges the right-of-way lines and builds a barn, parking lot, or other structure within the boundaries too close to the transmission lines. If not corrected in time, this can create a significant problem for the utility which may have to downgrade the affected lines, so they don’t strike the structure during periods of sag or sway.

 

Not only can such an encroachment pose danger to the property owner, but the line downgrade can be costly to the utility. Our goal with the pilot was to expedite the field patrols and see if we can be more efficient with satellite imagery.

Glenn Wilson

Principal Research Engineer at Southern Company

Our solution

For the pilot, the Research and Development group contracted with Satelytics of Perrysburg, Ohio, a leader in automated cloud-based AI geospatial analytics for diverse applications worldwide. Satelytics was already working with another Southern Company utility on a successful vegetation monitoring project.

To identify encroachments, Satelytics established a monitoring schedule in which it tasked Pléiades 1A and 1B to capture 50cm resolution, multispectral imagery over the pilot area every three months. The firm then applied its AI algorithms to detect changes in the imagery, such as new barns, parking lots, pools, and houses built in the right-of-way. A major advantage of the change-detection process is that it could identify land disturbances that often precede construction.

 

Satelytics chooses to process 50cm resolution from Pléiades for two primary reasons:

  • This level of accuracy is critical for Southern Company because it helps their personnel determine how best to deal with the incursion. Some small encroachments might be ignored while others may warrant a phone call to the landowner or a site inspection by a utility official to determine if the construction violates safety clearances.
  • The second reason Satelytics chooses to work with Airbus is timeliness.

Southern Company received the encroachment alerts through the Satelytics web portal, which also allowed the geospatial data to be transferred directly into the utility’s Esri ArcGIS. Each encroachment was flagged on the service territory GIS map and categorized based on the appropriate action Southern Company needed to take.

Southern Company was able to compare items flagged in the imagery with what they observed in field visits. In some cases, the construction technically violated the right-of-way but didn’t interfere with safety clearances. Satelytics was able to use this information to help fine-tune their analytics. By the end of the pilot, the AI-generated alerts were flagging only those encroachments that posed a danger to people or a problem for the utility.

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The 50cm resolution of the satellite imagery provides accurate information to properly measure how far into the right-of-way the encroachment occurs.

Satelytics’ goal is nearly immediate results. Airbus is unique in that they have ironed out a pathway to get us the data very quickly… and offers high-resolution data in the spectral bands we need.

Jay Almlie

Chief Marketing Officer

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Satelytics’ algorithms detect change to identify construction progress

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Benefits
  • Using 50cm resolution satellite imagery from Airbus provides the high-resolution that Satelytics needs to run their analytics.
  • The accuracy of the satellite imagery is critical for Southern Company because it helps their personnel determine how best to deal with the incursion.
  • Satelytics can task the Pléiades satellites and receive the data in a timely manner.
  • Satelytics is able to automatically receive the satellite imagery, apply their algorithms and machine learning for detection, analysis and qualification. Their alerts are then sent to the end user, who can process the information to make informed decisions.
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Organisation involved

Satelytics is a software company, producing geospatial analytics for early detection, location, and — in many instances — quantification of our customers’ most pressing challenges.  The Ohio-based company uses science, software, and technology to deliver valuable services to customers to identify problems before they become disasters – environmentally, financially, or otherwise. 

Southern Company brings energy to homes and businesses across the country. We’ve made our name as a leading producer of clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy, and we approach each day as a vital step in building the future of energy. We’re always looking ahead, and our innovations in the industry — from new nuclear to deployment of electric transportation and renewables — help brighten the lives and businesses of millions of customers nationwide.

Interested in using satellite imagery for your monitoring project?

Our sales team will be happy to discuss your project in more detail

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