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Google Earth Used To Predict Electrical Problems 91

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-can't-it-do dept.
coondoggie writes "What do you get when you combine images from Google Earth and the brainpower from researchers at Oak Ridge National Labs? Well in this case you get a tool that enables real-time status of the national electric grid that federal state and local agencies can use to coordinate and respond to major problems such as wide-area power outages, natural disasters and other catastrophic events. The Visualizing Energy Resources Dynamically on Earth (VERDE) system, announced this week, mashes together images and stats of everything from real-time status of the electric grid and weather information to power grid behavior modeling and simulation."
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Google Earth Used To Predict Electrical Problems

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  • by gardyloo (512791) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @12:09AM (#24506381)

    ...that posting such a story will inspire lots of slashdotters to go download or access Google Earth, and cause electrical problems.

  • Computer Heuristic Internet Longitudinal Environment for VERDE

  • Wha? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ejdmoo (193585) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @12:29AM (#24506469)

    How exactly does Google Earth predict *anything* at all?

    What it seems is someone wrote software to analyze the electrical grid, and they use the Google Maps API to visualize the geographic data.

    Yay.

    • Re:Wha? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @01:11AM (#24506665)

      It's definitely a dubious title, especially since TFA says almost nothing about Google. I suppose, though, that they are technically using Google Earth in their predictions, because without it they'd have to write their own/use Mapquest. I'm sure a big part of it is getting to attach Google's name to something no one outside the department and government is really interested by, and I bet Google's happy to step in. Besides, GE is probably really nice to visualize their data with. Distance from major cities or energy producers, weather, temperature, terrain, etc.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Atario (673917)

      Where does anything say Google Earth is predicting anything? All I see is "...used to predict...".

      Don't let that stop you from ostentatiously acting bored, though.

    • Re:Wha? (Score:5, Funny)

      by houghi (78078) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @06:57AM (#24507987)

      It sounds less sexy then Maps used to show location

    • by ozphx (1061292)

      Google: "We are going to put a huge datacenter down.... mmmm..here. We predict electrical problems in...mmm.. this 50 mile radius.. mmm.. here."

      Google, sucking up all your electricity with their huge horse nostrils.

    • by ASBands (1087159)

      You're absolutely right. My company uses Google Earth to manage the construction of transmission lines, which lets people know when and where the towers are going to be put up and helps our clients keep track of how close we are to schedule.

      • Google Earth Used to Construct Power Lines
      • Google Earth Used to Cure Cancer
      • Google Earth Used to Find the Closest White Castle
    • by PPH (736903)

      I can see Google Earth photos used to evaluate the condition of overhead lines, the amount of encroachment by trees, etc. But, as someone pointed out, G.E. can be years out of date. So the 'latest' photos will show you where you should have concentrated tree trimming efforts years ago.

      I was involved in a project that used aerial photography to evaluate power line right-of-way conditions. Up to date satellite photography could be used as well. In fact, some good multi-spectral imaging can tell quite a bit a

  • simple google (Score:4, Insightful)

    by twotailakitsune (1229480) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @12:35AM (#24506507)
    This is what, the 100th idea using Google Maps/Earth? they are just using the Google Maps API. Google is more open with people using Maps without paying some big Usage fee.

    What this is really about is the VERDE program. Now if Google was doing a real time status program I would have it sit on my screen all day.

    • by jaminJay (1198469) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @01:39AM (#24506777) Homepage

      Now if Google was doing a real time status program I would have it sit on my screen all day.

      That way, when the screen goes black, you'd know the power went out?

    • What this is really about is the VERDE program.

      But if the subject didn't mention Google and the article didn't feature the maps, would it be news worth distributing?

      Certainly Google maps and it's API is one of the best internet tools of this decade, but I suspect that the database work and real time collection and analysis of this data, must have taken a tremendous effort. It's too bad that the pretty picture generated from the end result seems to get top billing.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        When the lights get dimmer, the voltage is going down.

        They watch meters real time, predict load based on averages. This weeks load, time of day, last years load,etc. Oh, and they watch the Weather Channel.

        Failure prediction? They know what loads have caused failure before. Believe it or not, higher temps and loads (i squared r) cause the wires to stretch. They fail when they come in contact with earth(tree branches,etc) that causes a huge load swing. At 345,000 volts, wood is a conductor.

        So a prediction mod

    • by nospam007 (722110)

      >This is what, the 100th idea using Google Maps/Earth? they are just using the Google Maps API.

      Real time data with 10 year old satellite photos, what could possibly go wrong.

      • What many seem to forget is that the entity using this is a part of the U. S. Government. Should they need anything newer than a 10 year old satellite photo, they can have them, easily. Given the people working at Oak Ridge, it should not be that difficult to incorporate the newer imagery. Of course, you and I will not see it. If something requires posting images publicly they will revert to those 10 year old photos.
  • just a question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by silentphate (1245152) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @12:35AM (#24506509)
    If this is such a major development, why is it just now being created? Haven't we had the technology to do something like this for decades?
    • The concept of a simple common way to deal with data models is a process that seems to be heading towards standards which would be nice. Something like the openGL standards or blender file formats. If there were a standard way to represent complex interactive systems as even a bot script for a 3D world that could easily be shared like a language of systems interaction. I have been looking at littleb and that may evolve into a standard which can represent systems so that problems and solutions drift to the t
  • I am skeptical... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bogaboga (793279) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @12:37AM (#24506515)
    You know why? It is because data and images from Google Earth are not that up-to-date. In fact, several [new] roads in my county are not shown on Google Earth and Google Maps! So I am skeptical. Am I alone?
  • Sim City Stats (Score:5, Interesting)

    by neostorm (462848) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @12:41AM (#24506539)

    I am still waiting for Google Earth to fully encompass the feedback offered in games like Sim City, where I can search regions around the world for such things as Crime Statistics, Pollution, Economy, etc.

    There are plenty of other areas we can display information as well. They've already got traffic, terrain and now this. I am currently relocating to a new area as well, and actually tried to get crime stats on potential areas I'd be living in (thinking they may have already achieved that ability), they haven't got them yet, but I hope my wish list is not too far away.

    • Re:Sim City Stats (Score:5, Interesting)

      by littlerubberfeet (453565) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @12:51AM (#24506581)

      I was researching crime before a move as well. I was stuck using an absolutely horrible web-enabled wannabe GIS thing. Having used ArcGIS, I know what a decent GIS is capable of. Google Earth is well on its way to being able to display information the way ArcView does. A buffer wizard type tool would be a wonderful thing in Google Earth...The analytical side of things is not really suitable for the Google Earth architecture though.

      Yeah, Google would do well to integrate even census data (which includes some crime, pollution and economic data) into Google Earth.

    • I haven't updated Google Earth in a while, mostly because I haven't used it in a while, but last I saw it definitely had Crime Statistics. Pollution and Economy are both a little more ethereal, but moreover, they're for a much broader locale. I may wonder the crime stats in Manhattan versus Brooklyn, but what's it gonna say for Pollution, or Economy? Good and good? Corporate and yuppie? Those terms really apply to large areas, much greater than cities. As far as small towns are concerned, all the citi

    • by SimonGhent (57578)

      I am still waiting for Google Earth to fully encompass the feedback offered in games like Sim City

      Sod that!

      I am still waiting for Google Earth to fully encompass the natural disasters offered in games like Sim City.

      Go Godzilla!

    • by Comtraya (1306593)
      Then you can also have x-ray vision and see the status of the water main infrastructure.
    • by MartinB (51897)

      I am currently relocating to a new area as well, and actually tried to get crime stats on potential areas I'd be living in (thinking they may have already achieved that ability), they haven't got them yet, but I hope my wish list is not too far away.

      If you're moving to the UK, then go take a look at these guys [upmystreet.com], who have bought CACI's ACORN geodemographic dataset, and combined with publically available datasets on education, crime etc, to produce a view on what that area is like.

      Example [upmystreet.com] (where I used to l

    • I am still waiting for Google Earth to fully encompass the feedback offered in games like Sim City, where I can search regions around the world for such things as Crime Statistics, Pollution, Economy, etc.

      The method of collection of such statistics varies by country, so they are not easily comparable.

      One that I'm familiar with (from activism related to gun laws): Murder, accident, and suicide statistics. For instance:

      - Britain counts it as a murder when they have a conviction. US when they have a

  • HUH??? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @12:43AM (#24506547)
    Okay, I can see "recent" data... but anybody who really thinks that Google Earth is "realtime" is a serious candidate for the Happy Home.

    Some of the pictures are over 6 YEARS old...
    • Re:HUH??? (Score:5, Informative)

      by kerashi (917149) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @12:49AM (#24506571)

      The google earth maps may not be updated, but the maps are just a backdrop upon which the data is displayed.

      • Which accomplishes what beyond looking kewl and l33t? Seriously, if you are looking at a display showing the status of the power system background images are just noise that add nothing useful.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by powermacx (887715)

      Do you *want* realtime Google Earth?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPgV6-gnQaE [youtube.com]

      ;-)

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      Maybe that's how the "prediction" part works. They'll overlay the current electrical power grid and status over maps showing no development to account for the power usage displayed.

    • Some of the pictures are over 6 YEARS old...

      You can say that again...My etire neighboorhood seen through Google Earth is nothing but a huge construction site...

    • by edsousa (1201831)
      While the images may be outdated, Google Earth used to show a road that is yet to be built. I think that after all Google Earth can do predictions.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Google Earth Used To Predict Electrical Problems

    Too bad they don't anymore!

  • by Xoc-S (645831) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @01:29AM (#24506743)
    If there is a power outage, how am I going to fire up my desktop machine and view Google Earth?
    • by tubapro12 (896596)
      Use your wireless laptop on a UPS'ed network, and pray your ISP has UPS/backup power plans.
      • by afidel (530433)
        If you have DSL or a T-* line you are basically guaranteed to have a UPS'd and generator powered internet connection since the telco's are required to have emergency power. Sure if you use an ilec they may not have an agreement to hook their DSLAM to the telco power plant and remote shelfs don't all have generators, but the chances are pretty good. The cable companies are also pretty good about it since they are now offering voice service (though it's definitely not to the level of the telco's).
    • by freakxx (987620)

      Listen, I suggest you something logical. Forget that Oak-people. They are simply misleading people by creating false sensations in media.

      Ask google to display real-time usage statistics on GoogleEarth in different regions (more usage = brighter area). In this way, you just have to look for dark regions in the GUI to locate where the power outage is actually taking place. So simple.

      To Google People: If you are going to implement this idea in ur product, you must mention my name. Otherwise, I am going to save

    • by Idbar (1034346)
      Now, wasn't that a good enough prediction then? It's in fact a "real-time prediction system".
  • Somewhere my alma mater's Dr Shaffer's enjoying this :)

  • too late (Score:3, Funny)

    by Digitus1337 (671442) <{moc.liamtoh} {ta} {sutigid_kl}> on Thursday August 07, 2008 @02:17AM (#24506905) Homepage
    The LHC goes online in just under a day; Google Earth is going to be obsolete, so how is this newsworthy?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The LHC goes online in just under a day; Google Earth is going to be obsolete

      Google Earth is an interactive map & the LHC is a particle accelerator. Frankly, I don't see wtf one has to do with the other (or how one could obsolete the other)...

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The LHC goes online in just under a day; Google Earth is going to be obsolete

        Google Earth is an interactive map & the LHC is a particle accelerator. Frankly, I don't see wtf one has to do with the other (or how one could obsolete the other)...

        *whoosh*

        • Wooosh indeed.

          Clearly my joke-a-meter needs recalibrating.

          Oh well, I am a mac fanboy - we're renowned for our humourlessness & obliviousness in the face of sarcasm ;-)

      • by initialE (758110)
        Just to be pedantic, some people believe that the startup of the LHC will be a universe-ending event. Or in any case, something that will make a huge dent in the european part of the globe.
    • by rubycodez (864176)

      no problem, they'll just change the name to Google Strangelet-Star

  • So what happens when said outages or disasters take out ORNL's Internet access or Google's servers?

    Corporate-enabled mash-ups are *SO* 2007. Time to focus on open clouds of massively-distributed computing resources and cached storage. /soapbox

    • by Jellybob (597204)

      Something tells me the agency responsible for monitoring power outages might (and I'm just guessing here) have backup power and connectivity.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Google Earth Used To Predict Electoral Problems?

    And I'm not even American...

  • VERDE == green  (in Romanian)
  • The real news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes AT xmsnet DOT nl> on Thursday August 07, 2008 @04:14AM (#24507449)

    is that this is news at all:

    Major power outages in the United States over the past decade have a recurring theme - the lack of wide-area situational understanding was a key factor that contributed to blackouts.

    (emphasis mine)

    How can you expect to manage something as complex as a continental power grid without having the data you need? It's not like this capability has only recently become available.

    • by PPH (736903)

      You send someone out in a truck with a spotlight when the lights go out.

      Anecdote:

      Many years ago (~20) I worked for a local utility. Back then, we started a program that involved locating all of the system's facilities with a GPS grid position, tied together in a database. The idea was that a customer id was tied to a transformer, which was connected to a particular lateral, fed by a feeder, from a substation. Trouble calls from customers or interrogation of the automated metering grid would reveal the geo

  • ORNL is just down the road from me. Actually one of my neighbors is a programmer there. Are they running it on a pc or thier Cray XT3 system?
  • I wonder how long it will take Homeland Security to pay these guys a visit to discuss classification of their work?
  • by martyb (196687) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @07:46AM (#24508197)

    Here's a bit more detail from the ORNL web site: http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/v40_3_07/article13.shtml [ornl.gov] and http://www.ornl.gov/sci/electricdelivery/vis_VERDE.html [ornl.gov] where there are links to: VERDE video (WMV 81.2MB) [ornl.gov] (13m 54s)

    In the first-listed link above, I found this:

    "Major power outages in the United States over the past decade have a recurring theme--the lack of wide-area situational understanding," says Tom King, manager of electric transmission and distribution technologies for ORNL's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program. (emphasis added)

    As a follow-up, I hear they are planning a "Wide-Area Situational Understanding Program", aka WASUP! :)

  • Man, that is one bad pun. I mean, everybody wants green energy, right? You think it coincidence that they used the Spanish word for green (Verde) to describe the power grid???

    Alternatively, if anyone has had the opportunity to sing or hear the performance of Verde's Requiem, you may "rest" knowing that in the event of a disaster, the internet will still be working and that power problems can be diagnosed quickly and efficiently.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    (Posting Anon as I helped on the project) The DOE has been using WorldWind Java [nasa.gov] for over a year to already do this and a lot more. But of course, that is not public use. This could easily have been done with any web based map or any virtual globe.
  • I might suggest Managing Energy Resources Dynamically on Earth (MERDE,) because as soon as somebody starts relying on that system, we're going to be deep in it.

  • oil fields too now.

    http://hurricane.methaz.org/tracking/

  • So I can use google earth to find out why my power is out?

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