By Hannah Davis
Brett Kinlaw, Lumbee River EMC GIS Supervisor, is an Elizabethtown native and graduate of East Bladen High School and Campbell University. He is currently serving a three-year term on the Analytics, Resiliency and Reliability Member Advisory Group (ARRMAG) that is part of the NRECA, or the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The group provides resources to help electric cooperatives better understand, manage, and forecast energy use and economic consequences of changes in markets, regulations, and operations.
Kinlaw introduced solutions for mapping and data management to his cooperative to improve operational workflows. He utilized two apps through GIS, or Geographic Information System, that ease the workflow of field personnel, improve their emergency response, and allow for valuable information to be given to the public. He presented this technology along with other information at a nationwide annual convention hosted by NRECA.
NRECA is the national service organization that represents America’s electric cooperatives, and its convention was held in New Orleans in late February and early March. Kinlaw was selected to present in a subsection of the convention that was about technological advancements. His presentation, titled “Visualizing Emergency Management,” discussed how to leverage GIS technology and how to improve emergency preparedness and response from the perspective of an electric cooperative. Kinlaw explained the importance of expanding the use of existing technology and software that most cooperatives already had access to so they could achieve more efficient emergency management. He had already implemented this information into his cooperative, and he was sharing these solutions and advancements with others.
Collector for ArcGIS and Survey123 for ArcGIS are the two apps that Kinlaw introduced to his cooperative. Collector serves for pole inspections, and field personnel use it to track inspections and their progress through GIS. They use maps provided in the app to locate the pole, then use a link that directs them to another app to complete a survey for reporting damages. It’s ideal for emergency response as it allows them to track and report damages in the field after major storms or other events. Then, Survey123 allows them to track the form live.
These solutions to emergency response and management have proven beneficial to Lumbee River EMC. They have ease of use, real-time monitoring, and they can be used offline if necessary. Also, they provide a reliable tool to keep the media and public informed with valuable information. The cooperative learned that this tech allows for better emergency response plan compliance, reduces the amount of redundant and parallel workflows, and allows information to be better coordinated with the local government.
Kinlaw recognizes that it took work and cooperation from many different parts of the cooperative for this project to be successful. He stated, “Two key factors to the success of this project for Lumbee River EMC’s GIS team have been our field and office personnel’s willingness to learn and embrace emerging technologies; as well as the support of our Steering Team, led by CEO Carmen Dietrich.”
Chris Locklear, Vice President of Engineering and Operations at Lumbee River EMC, said “The mapping and data management solutions introduced by Brett enable Lumbee River EMC to achieve operational goals with more efficiency. This information is valuable to our Employees as well as our Members.”
The introduction and utilization of this technology by Brett Kinlaw have greatly improved the workflow and emergency response efficiency of the cooperative. This was all done through existing software at no extra cost to the cooperative. Employees can use this tech with ease and can improve their workflow as well as provide important information to the public. Kinlaw’s innovative solutions don’t stop at his cooperative, as he shared this information with other cooperatives so they too can improve their work in emergency response and management.
Lumbee River EMC, a North Carolina locally owned electric cooperative headquartered in Pembroke NC, provides electric service to over 55,000 members located in Cumberland, Hoke, Robeson and Scotland counties.