Data and Electric Power


Energy, manufacturing, transport, petroleum, aerospace, chemical, electronics, computers...the list of industries built by the labors of engineers is substantial. Each of these industries is home to hundreds of companies that reshape the world in which we live. Classical, or traditional engineering itself is built upon a world of knowledge and scientific laws. It is filled with determinism; solvable (explicitly or numerically) equations, or their often linear approximations, describe the fundamental processes that engineers and industries have sought to tame and harness for society’s benefit.

As Chief Data Scientist at PingThings, I work hand-in-hand with electric utilities both large and small to bring data science and its associated mental models to a traditionally engineering-driven industry. In our work at PingThings, we have seen the original, deterministic models of the electric power industry not getting replaced, but subsumed by a stochastic world filled with increasing uncertainty. Many such industries built by engineering are undergoing this fundamental change—evolving from a deterministic machine to a larger, more unpredictable entity that exists in a world filled with randomness—a probabilistic system.

Metamorphosis to a Probabilistic System

There are several key drivers of this metamorphosis. First, the grid has increased in size, and the interconnection of such a large number of devices has created a complex system, which can ...

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