By John DavesMarch 4, 2018
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- A team of temporary emergency power and geographic information systems experts deployed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in support of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico developed a technological method for the safe and effective installation and de-installation of temporary power micro-grids used throughout Puerto Rico.
The concept originated when U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees Bill Spring and Jake Ellison, mission liaisons for the Task Force Temporary Emergency Power Team, proposed the idea to Kara Hickey, a geographic information systems analyst.
Spring and Ellison wanted an app that could track, in real time, the status of work previously accomplished at micro-grid locations.
"This is a great method to ensure safety during micro-grid work in areas throughout Puerto Rico that were affected by the hurricane until a permanent power grid is restored," said Lt. Col. Roberto Solorzano, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Puerto Rico Recovery Field Office commander.
Hickey, in turn, after determining the mission needs, developed an app using the computer program ArcGIS Online, which is an online collaborative web GIS system that allows users the ability to create, and share maps, scenes, apps, layers, analytics, and data.
ArcGIS Online is designed as a secure system with controlled access. You can always access up-to-date information on security, privacy, and compliance information along with updates and alerts, best practices, system availability, and status history.
"Creating the app was not incredibly difficult; the challenge was finding a platform all parties could use."
The app enhances the safety and security of micro grid commissioning and de-commissioning. It accomplishes this by ensuring each responsible party involved in the process has inspected grid and approved of its condition before the next team member performs work.
The app's map interface allows team members, once on location, the ability to drop pins to show the micro-grid locations, enter site and equipment information into an inspection checklist.
"It is important we ensure the integrity and security of the micro-grid and its components, prior to energizing the grid," said Ellison.
"The team was proactive in developing an app to improve efficiency which demonstrates their passion and commitment to the recovery effort," said Solorzano.
The Corps is currently subsidizing grid power in with temporary micro-grids, in five municipalities on Puerto Rico, until grid power is restored.