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Outsmarting the Weather: Innovative Multi-partner Collaboration Uses Weather Monitoring Stations To Benefit Communities, Schools, and Government Agencies

Posted By Cynthia Hanson, Thursday, June 18, 2015

A National Grid and Earth Networks collaboration made it easier for United States Postal Service workers in New England last winter to adhere to their motto: Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. In theory, that is. The innovative vendor-relationship-turned-alliance won them the ASAP Individual Alliance Excellence Award at the March ASAP Global Alliance Summit in Orlando, Florida.

Utility National Grid needed a better way to determine where electric asset damages could occur before a storm hit its service territory in Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island. The utility developed an industry-leading predictive storm damage model with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and purchased the historical weather data for the model from Earth Networks. The companies partnered in 2013 to create additional weather stations in areas where they did not exist, and National Grid donated 55 stations to police and fire departments and local schools. In addition to creating a unique math and science teaching tool for children, the initiative program provides town emergency personnel with local information to determine whether to sand roads, cancel school or sporting events, and/or determine the location of dangerous squalls or lightening in the area.

“As severe weather becomes more and more common in our communities, access to real-time, local weather information is increasingly important for preparation and response to major storms and emergency events,” explains Eliza Davis, lead program manager of alliance and vendor strategy at National Grid.  “The weather station data serves as another source of on-the-ground information as National Grid teams decide where to place utility crews and assets. The data also helps towns decide when it is safe to send police and fire crews to respond to emergencies and outages.”

Over a 20-year period, Earth Networks has grown a labyrinth of 10,000 weather stations worldwide, each of which provides data every two seconds. “This data and all historical weather data from the stations are being fed into the predictive storm damage model to better understand how specific weather attributes contribute to asset damages. Overall, the WeatherBug weather data has driven a 50 percent improvement in the accuracy of the model,” says Davis. 

For Earth Networks, the collaboration is both financially and educationally beneficial—not only for local school children but for its meteorologists. “The collaboration gave them the ability to see more of the widespread winds and precipitation in the New England region, especially in upstate New York, where there are very few weather stations. Some 24 new weather stations were installed in New York as part of the collaboration,” says meteorologist Dennis Stewart, senior account executive of energy solutions at Earth Networks-WeatherBug. “Meteorology is all about data. The increase in the collective data has helped significantly with forecasting severe weather and has been proactive in storm preparations with disasters,” which sometimes involves federal agencies.

Community members can download the free WeatherBug app on their phones to access their town’s current weather conditions, forecasts, emergency notifications, and even pinpoint local lightning strikes. Many of these towns previously relied on weather data from 20 miles away.

 “The utility industry faces significant challenges as we plan for the effects of increasingly severe weather on the assets that deliver power to our customers,” Davis points out. “In addition, regulators and stakeholders are encouraging utilities to collaborate with other companies in the energy service industry to animate markets, achieve efficiencies, create new revenue opportunities, and deliver greater value to our customers. Through the WeatherBug Initiative, National Grid is leading the effort to improve storm preparation and response while demonstrating our ability to partner for the benefit of our customers and the utility industry.” 

Tags:  Dennis Stewart  Earth Networks  Eliza Davis  energy service industry  Massachusetts Institute of Technology  meteorologists  National Grid  severe weather  Utility  weather stations  WeatherBug 

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Official ASAP Announcement and Forthcoming Q2 Strategic Alliance Magazine Article Shine the Spotlight on 2015 ASAP Alliance Excellence Award Winners

Posted By Cynthia Hanson, Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Think “rock star teams” with people “aligned and marching in the same direction” working to make significant contributions to society, science, sustainability, and corporate alliance management practices. That would be the winners of the 2015 ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards, which were presented March 3 at the 2015 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, officially announced in an ASAP press release this week, and will be recognized in the soon-to-be-published Q2 issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine. 

The 2015 recipients of the ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards are: 

  • National Grid/Earth Networks for Individual Alliance Excellence
  • The Dow Chemical Company/The Nature Conservancy for Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Philips for Innovative Best Alliance Practice with honorable mention to Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson
  • Takeda Pharmaceuticals for Alliance Program Excellence with honorable mention to Bayer HealthCare
  • ASAP RTP Chapter for the Chapter Excellence Award 

The forthcoming Strategic Alliance Magazine article shares insights from a live Q&A session with the award winners. Moderator Jan Twombly, CSAP, president of The Rhythm of Business, asked recipients about key learnings.  At its core, our project “was about making decisions for all society. It moved us beyond basic philanthropy,” observed Elizabeth Uhlhorn, sustainability program manager at Dow Chemical. Dow and The Nature Conservancy received the Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility Award for their partnership, which factors the value of nature into business decisions—a crucial step forward in fostering sustainability. 

National Grid won the Individual Alliance Excellence Award, which is given to a company that has excelled in planning, implementation, and results for a single alliance—in this case, with Earth Network’s weather monitoring equipment distributor WeatherBug. Asked what made their efforts awards-winning, “Our alliance delivered twice, first for National Grid to better understand where damage will occur.  Second, with community engagement and stewardship,” responded Eliza Davis, lead program manager, alliance and vendor strategy at National Grid. 

The awards “highlight some of the very best achievements in the industry and require hundreds of hours of work to qualify,” said Michael Leonetti, CSAP, president and CEO of ASAP, while announcing the winners. “There were more applicants this year than ever before,” added co-presenter Annlouise Goodermuth, CSAP, director of alliance management, strategy, science policy, and external innovation at Sanofi. 

To learn more about and from the award winners, don’t miss the forthcoming Q2 issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine—and read the full ASAP press release

Tags:  alliance management  ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards  ASAP RTP Chapter  Bayer HealthCare  Earth Networks  Eliza Davis  Elizabeth Uhlhorn  Janssen Pharmaceutical  National Grid  Philips  Strategic Alliance Magazine  sustainability  Takeda Pharmaceuticals  The Dow Chemical Company  The Nature Conservancy  WeatherBug 

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