The U.S. electric-power infrastructure urgently needs renovation. Recent major power outages in California, New York, Texas, and Florida have highlighted U.S. electric-power unreliability. The media have discussed the U.S. aging power infrastructure and the Public Utilities Commission has demanded a comprehensive review of the causes of recent power outages. This paper explores geographic information systems (GIS) and a spatially enhanced predictive power-outage model to address: How may spatial analytics enhance our understanding of power outages? To answer this research question, we developed a spatial analysis framework that utilities can use to investigate power-failure events and their causes. Analysis revealed areas of statistically significant power outages due to multiple causes. This study’s GIS model can help to advance smart-grid reliability by, for example, elucidating power-failure root causes, defining a data-responsive blackout solution, or implementing a continuous monitoring and management solution. We unveil a novel use of spatial analytics to enhance power-outage understanding. Future work may involve connecting to virtually any type of streaming-data feed and transforming GIS applications into frontline decision applications, showing power-outage incidents as they occur. GIS can be a major resource for electronic-inspection systems to lower the duration of customer outages, improve crew response time, as well as reduce labor and overtime costs.
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