Logo preload
close Logo

Manage utility infrastructure like your life depends on it

February 23, 2021

Recent snowstorms managed to cripple the second largest state in the continental United States. Overnight, millions were left without essential services due to aging infrastructure and unprepared electrical grid’s vulnerability to severe storms. Unfortunately, with extreme weather conditions becoming increasingly common around the world, being proactive about how to respond to such disasters in the future could save time, money, resources, and most importantly, lives.

Mandatory overhauls of utility infrastructure

Utility overhauls aren’t just a “nice-to-have,” they’re going to become mandatory under President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which has recently called for a significant initiative to refurbish and upgrade the country’s crumbling infrastructure. This push could cost billions of dollars, but ignoring the problem could be even more costly. The Biden administration has staffed key infrastructure positions in the decision-making chain in the Department of Transportation, the Department of Labor, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Energy. This staffing signals that major pieces of legislation will take priority in the coming months and years, and trickle down to local and state governments.

Utility infrastructure challenges

Utility companies from coast to coast are grappling with a significant surge in demand that exceeds their infrastructure’s capacity. The demand for natural resources like gas, water, and wind power has strained the infrastructure that delivers those resources to homes and businesses, so when a natural disaster like a hurricane or snowstorm hits, the already stressed system can’t sustain the hit. Too many people require water, electricity, and natural gas, straining outdated systems ill-equipped for the rising demand. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has compiled regular “report cards” on the state of U.S. infrastructure since the 1980s. In its 2017 report, the ASCE found that the nation’s infrastructure averaged a “D+,” meaning that conditions were “mostly below standard,” exhibiting “significant deterioration,” with a “strong risk of failure.”

The nearly deserted streets of downtown Houston as Winter Storm Uri unleashes record cold temperatures in southeast Texas - utility infrastructure

The nearly deserted streets of downtown Houston as Winter Storm Uri unleashes record cold temperatures in southeast Texas

Utility companies must be proactive about their disaster response before it becomes a government mandate. How are they going to get there? With technology that equips the mobile workforce to get their jobs done effectively, and in a timely manner. Fulcrum digitizes mobile inspection checklists, such as those for sewers. It ensures no equipment or machinery faults during use. Additionally, it collects data related to utility asset management. This allows for quick and actionable decisions. Moreover, it keeps workers on the job safe and accounted for with location-based information.

Use Case: Fresno County

When a wildfire hit Fresno County, California, the office of public works used Fulcrum to create a damage assessment application in less than 24 hours. In response to the disaster, officials sought an immediate solution for data collection to aid FEMA in recovery. Within 24 hours of learning about it, the team began leveraging Fulcrum. Soon, dozens of volunteers were using the platform to assess damage on roads, hazardous sites, and structures.

This proactive approach, combined with Fulcrum’s rapid location-based data, helps identify infrastructure in urgent need of repair. Essential utilities such as roads, trains, and power require constant inspection for public safety.

Utility firms, governments, and construction companies that streamline inspection with mobile data apps are better equipped to thrive in times of uncertainty. If you’re interested in learning more about how location-based asset and inspection management works, start your free trial.