How Neara’s AI Technology Protects Utilities From Extreme Weather


Over the past few decades, extreme weather events have not only become more severe, but are also occurring more frequently. Neara, a startup based in Redfern, New South Wales, Australia, is at the forefront of enabling utility companies and energy providers to safeguard their power networks from natural disasters such as wildfires and flooding using AI and machine learning technology.

Key Takeaway

Neara’s AI and machine learning technology enables utilities to create digital models of their networks, allowing them to simulate the impact of extreme weather events and take proactive measures to ensure the reliability and safety of their power supply.

Neara’s AI and Machine Learning Products

Neara recently launched AI and machine learning products that create large-scale models of networks and assess risks without the need for manual surveys. Since its commercial launch in 2019, the startup has secured $45 million AUD in funding and has garnered a notable client base, including Essential Energy, Endeavour Energy, and SA Power Networks. It has also established partnerships with Southern California Edison Co and EMPACT Engineering.

Impact of Neara’s Technology

Neara’s AI and machine learning-based features have been successfully utilized by utilities globally, including Southern California Edison, SA Power Networks, Endeavor Energy in Australia, ESB in Ireland, and Scottish Power. By integrating AI and machine learning capabilities into its platform, Neara aims to analyze existing infrastructure without the need for manual inspections, which are often inefficient, inaccurate, and expensive.

Neara’s AI and machine learning features enable the creation of large-scale models of a utility’s network and surroundings. These models can simulate the impact of extreme weather on electricity supplies, thereby increasing the speed of power restoration, ensuring the safety of utility teams, and mitigating the impact of weather events.

Training the Model

Neara’s AI and machine learning model was trained “on over one million miles of diverse network territory, which helps capture seemingly small but high consequential nuances with hyper-accuracy.” The use of LiDAR technology is critical to Neara’s ability to accurately simulate weather events, ensuring precise modeling of water levels and other crucial factors.

Application of Neara’s Technology

Neara’s technology has been applied in various scenarios, such as predicting outages caused by high winds, wildfires, flood water levels, and ice and snow buildups. By leveraging AI and machine learning, Neara’s digital models of utility networks enable energy providers to prepare for and mitigate the impact of extreme weather events.

Examples of Neara’s Work

Neara’s collaboration with Southern California Edison involves using LiDAR and satellite imagery to predict vegetation fire risks more accurately than manual surveys. This technology also aids in identifying areas at risk without putting inspectors in harm’s way.

In another instance, Neara worked with SA Power Networks in Australia to perform digital flood impact modeling following the 2022-2023 River Murray flooding crisis. This enabled SA Power Networks to analyze 21,000 power line spans within the flood area in just 15 minutes, significantly reducing the time required for assessment and restoration.

Future Developments

Neara is focused on further enhancing its machine learning capabilities to extract more value from live and historical data. The startup also aims to expand the sources of data that can be used for modeling, with a specific focus on image recognition and photogrammetry.

Additionally, Neara is collaborating with Essential Energy to develop new features that will enable utilities to assess each asset in their network more precisely, particularly in the context of extreme weather conditions such as wildfires.

“Essentially, we’re allowing utilities to stay a step ahead of extreme weather by understanding exactly how it will affect their network, allowing them to keep the lights on and their communities safe,” says Jack Curtis, co-founder of Neara.

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