February 20, 2024

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand (Or More) Data Points

Field crews at Central Georgia EMC in Jackson, Georgia, start their days off a little differently than most of their industry peers. Since 2019, they’ve embraced a habit that is commonly seen at restaurants and social gatherings but more out of place among hardhat wearing outdoors folk, taking selfies. While CGEMC’s field crews are likely very photogenic, the real reason for this is much more reasonable. It started as an innovative approach to getting crews accustomed to Futura’s newly implemented Inspections tool. Recognizing potential resistance to introducing new technology, Blake Holmes, VP of Asset Management at CGEMC, came up with this as a simple way to acclimate his crews to the capabilities of their shiny new tool. This strategy reduced pushback, fostered adaptability, and created a bridge to the more intricate functionalities they adopted in the future.

“They had a good time with it!”, Blake said. “There are some great photos in the system. The younger generation quickly adapted, and even the more seasoned lineworkers have become some of the most frequent users, showcasing the tool’s universal appeal and ease of use.”

Beyond serving as an introduction to the new technology, these snapshots also have practical uses. “To us, images are data. It gives you a lifecycle of an asset,” Blake said. CGEMC’s commitment to visual documentation is evident in their impressive archive of 2.7 million images, showcasing the depth and scale of their asset management efforts. Additionally, the photos don’t just capture faces, they capture timestamps and locations, providing a clear, undeniable record of the crew’s whereabouts – something that could prove invaluable in legal situations.

The co-op utilizes Futura software across the utility daily and holds a genuine appreciation for its capabilities. As Blake expressed, “We love the product. It’s done very well, and now every department in the field is using it. We use it for most everything here!” he said, highlighting their trust in the tool. “We’re looking to expand to even a few more things that I saw during the #Futura2023 conference that other co-ops are doing.”

CGEMC’s unique application of this technology has had a positive ripple effect across the co-op community. Blake noted that their engineering contract workers have promoted their unique inspections process, leading several other utilities to adopt similar strategies. This free flow of knowledge and smooth adoption of best practices further emphasizes how unity among co-ops and ease of use among their tools leads to the best possible outcomes for the communities we serve.