SDG&E Receives Award from IDG’s CIO for Technology Innovation

SDG&E Receives Award from IDG’s CIO for Technology Innovation

Intelligent Image Processing Project earns SDG&E coveted CIO 100 Award, highlighting leading-edge information technology solutions and collaborative partnerships.

On Monday, IDG Communications’ CIO, an executive-level IT media brand and publication, named San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) one of its 2021 CIO 100 Award winners for its use of innovative technology to deliver greater business value and an enhanced customer experience.

This year’s award was in recognition of SDG&E’s Intelligent Image Processing Project, an innovative IT solution that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning to rapidly detect assets and damages in millions of images captured via drones from the field. A “first of its kind” solution, the project is emblematic of SDG&E’s commitment to its mission of building the cleanest, safest and most reliable energy infrastructure company in North America.

Developed in collaboration with Accenture in 2020, the Intelligent Image Processing Project was designed to help address one of the region’s greatest challenges: the evolving and expanding threat of devastating wildfires. The solution aimed to analyze images being captured by drones as part of the Drone Investigation Assessment and Repair Program (DIAR). In 2020, the DIAR program captured 38,000 poles and 1.4 million images of equipment in high-fire-risk areas. The project team then developed machine learning models to detect unique asset and damage conditions and built a visualization platform to support business groups in decision-making.

Since officially kicking off this program in April of 2020, the project team has built over 30 Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning models.  Each of these models has been built in-house, and each one of these models is designed to automatically identify an SDG&E asset and identify a specific type of damage or a specific type of condition. This capability is a “first of its kind” cloud-based solution for SDG&E and the industry using machine learning. Without SDG&E’s investments in the cloud, it would not have been feasible for the company to execute a project of this complexity at the speed and scale is achieved.

SDG&E embraces a fail-fast culture of innovation and encourages iterative learning and rapid prototype development to test new concepts. The transition to the cloud is one of SDG&E’s highest priorities because it will ultimately enable speed, resilience and innovation across the organization. Leveraging cloud capabilities and training the organization to use agile methodologies has enabled SDG&E to move fast to continuously develop and test new ideas, like the Intelligent Image Processing Project, while incorporating business insights to identify the highest-value opportunities for investment.

The project has also served as a steppingstone for additional business insights and value. The company is exploring additional opportunities to expand the solution like using it to identify communication infrastructure provider tags on SDG&E pole assets and scaling it to collect electrical infrastructure imagery from cameras on fleet trucks.

To learn more about the CIO Awards and winners, please click here.