Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Dealing with power outages more efficiently

When there is a power failure, the utility companies, public officials and emergency services must work together quickly. Researchers have created a new planning software product that enables all participants to be better prepared for emergency situations.

Power supply is the backbone of our modern economy. Nearly every aspect of life depends on electrically-operated devices. When the flow of power stops, it is not just the lights that go out. In the supermarket, the automatic teller machines and cash registers stop working.

Black ice can be an immense burden on the power grid. The power lines sag low enough to almost touch the ground. © Fraunhofer FIT

Even telephones, radios and televisions become paralyzed. If the shortage lasts a long time the supply of hot water, gas and fuel and the functioning of respirators at intensive care units in nursing homes or at private homes is at risk.

The causes of this dreadful scenario can range from natural disasters to terrorist attacks or just technical problems. A few recent examples demonstrate how real the risk is in Germany where the last major event occurred in Hannover in 2011. The 650,000 people there went without power for up to 90 minutes after a blockage in a coal-fired power plant, and the power main connection at a transformer station failed. Even more far-reaching consequences were seen from the biggest power outage in post-war history, when extreme snowfalls in the Münsterland region in 2005 knocked out a series of high-voltage pylons. Some 250,000 people went without power, in some cases for up to five days. The financial damages exceeded 100 million euros.

Firefighters as process managers
In emergency cases, the utility companies, public officials and emergency services realize that they must contend with a variety of tasks: Who are the most seriously affected? Where is greatest need for action? How long will emergency power supply last? Who travels where, and how long will the fuel last? Theseare just a fraction of the issues that require rapid response. “To minimize the duration of the crash, the officers-in-charge at the fire, police and emergency services departments have to act like process managers,” explains Dr. Thomas Rose, head of the Risk Management and Decision Support research department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT in St. Augustin.

Whereas process managers at companies have access to specialized software tools, rescue personnel have no modern IT-backed process management tools available for crisis situations. “Currently available solutions for industry and business are too complex, and do not fit the unique requirements that the police, the fire department and other emergency services have. Even programs like Excel rapidly hit their limits when there are constantly changing volumes of data. This is precisely the gap our IT safety platform covers,” explains Rose.

The software from the Fraunhofer Institute FIT provides energy suppliers, public officials and rescue professionals throughout Germany with the opportunity to be prepared in advance – in other words, before the power goes out – for optimal joint collaboration in crisis situations. At the heart of this IT solution, developed under the auspices of the InfoStrom research project, are role-based checklists. These contain not only detailed action guidelines on what each individual site has to do, but also guidelines on which items have to be coordinated with other sites.

Tests in two local counties
For example, the technical relief organization knows exactly how many vehicles the local fire department plans to deploy. “Checklists are ideally suited for crisis management. But previously, they were only available on paper. Even the cross-organizational approach was missing. In addition, we integrated a glossary. Because different rescue personnel typically use different sets of terminology,” says Rose. The operational capability of the software was successfully evaluated in the more urban-defined Rhein-Erft county, and the more rural setting of Siegen-Wittgenstein county.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Rose | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht 'Super yeast' has the power to improve economics of biofuels
18.10.2016 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Engineers reveal fabrication process for revolutionary transparent sensors
14.10.2016 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>