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The Innovation of Power


Welcome to the latest issue of The Districts, where we chronicle the people, issues and activities impacting special districts across the U.S.

News Staff / November 27, 2019

New Podcast: The Innovation of Power

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) generates and distributes electric power to 650,000 customers in the Sacramento County area. Like many electric utilities, SMUD is navigating changes to the power grid triggered by solar and other new technologies, as well as rising customer expectations. This month, SMUD CIO Stephen Clemons joins the Special Districts Podcast to talk about how the utility uses technology to run more efficiently and deliver better service.

As an example, he points to a recently launched feature that lets customers reconnect their electric service without talking to a SMUD representative. “They can log into our website or the mobile app or use IVR to make a payment and automatically have their power turned on instantly,” says Clemons. “If you think about that on weekends or holidays when we don’t have a representative available, that’s huge.” Tune into the Special Districts Podcast to hear more.

Annual Survey Results Are In

We’ve completed the 2019 Special Districts Survey, and the results offer a national snapshot of district priorities and challenges. Here’s a preview of the findings:

  • Districts are widely evaluating cloud services and mobile technology as they look to address current and future business requirements.
  • Data analytics, drones and the Internet of Things also are getting more attention from district leaders.
  • Districts’ biggest challenges revolve around modernizing and preserving infrastructure on tight budgets, as well as recruiting and retaining workforce talent.
  • Cybersecurity remains the top technology priority for districts, followed closely by data consolidation and IT governance.

Look for more survey results – as well as district success stories and expert insights – in our 2019 Special Districts Program Annual Publication coming out in January.

Special Districts Awards: Class of 2019

Throughout 2019, we recognized more than 40 special districts and individual officials for technology innovation. Award winners were honored for improving citizen experience, strengthening internal operations and providing outstanding leadership. Learn more about our 2019 Technology Innovation Award recipients here.

District Spotlight

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is the nation’s largest publicly owned electric utility. It’s also one of the biggest targets for cyber-attack. "Across all industries cybersecurity threats are increasing both in number and sophistication -- and the energy sector is one of the most sought after sectors for cyber attackers," says Andrea Brackett, director of cybersecurity for the utility. "We invest millions of dollars each year into our cybersecurity program and we make sure that we educate all TVA workers that part of their role is taking cybersecurity seriously and to be one of our layers of defense."

Cyber specialists work round the clock to monitor more than 1 billion activities a day across digital platforms in TVA’s seven-state region. The utility, which operates seven nuclear reactors and 29 hydroelectric dams, opened a cybersecurity facility a few years ago where a 60-member cybersecurity division watches for signs of attack. Read more about how the TVA protects its sprawling power grid.

More Articles Worth a Read

The Regional Water Authority in New Haven, Conn., recently hired a former National Guard executive to fill a newly created chief information and digital officer position. Premjith Singh will lead the utility’s efforts to create a digital roadmap and use technology to improve customer experience.

Tennessee’s Memphis Area Transit Authority plans to implement mobile ticketing and other cashless payment options. The authority will work with a private partner on the $9 million project to improve passenger experience.

City planners in Santa Clara, Calif., are using a big data-powered dashboard to make better decisions on where to deploy electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The dashboard uses information about where trips originate and terminate within the city to offer insight on where charging stations should be located.


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