National Grid Partners (NGP) serves as the eyes and ears of the business, searching for innovations to keep National Grid at the forefront of the energy industry. As the corporate investment and innovation arm of one of the world’s largest investor-owned energy companies, NGP is helping drive the transition to a more digitized and smarter energy system. It does so by investing and collaborating at the intersection of information technology and energy.
What They Do
Urbint helps utilities better manage risk and allocate resources through predictive Artificial Intelligence (AI) innovation. It accomplishes this by applying AI to public and private data sets to help infrastructure operators predict safety incidents, and therefore reduce risk by more efficiently deploying resources to the right place at the right time. What differentiates Urbint is its model: it takes historical incident data such as third-party damage, leaks, customer odor calls, and workplace accidents; combines it with internal data such as the age, type and location of the asset involved and external data such as weather, soil conditions, traffic patterns, and urban density (called Urbint’s Model of the World); and then applies advanced machine learning to predict future incident occurrences.
Why NGP Invested
NGP was impressed by how Urbint combines proprietary data modeling capabilities with a deep understanding of how utilities operate. This was clear to the NGP team not only from Urbint’s demonstrated successes with other major North American utilities – including Con Edison, Dominion, Duke Energy, Exelon, Southern Company, and Xcel – but also from how quickly Urbint gained traction within National Grid’s U.S. gas distribution business for a damage prevention use case.
Moreover, NGP appreciated Urbint’s potential to expand beyond gas utilities to electric utilities and other critical infrastructure sectors where managing risk and allocating resources efficiently is key – including water utilities, telecommunications, and construction.
The bottom line is that Urbint’s track record with peer utilities, momentum within National Grid, ease of implementation, and expansion potential all provided strong assurance for NGP to partner with Urbint.
Damage Prevention Use Case — Benefits to National Grid and the Communities We Serve
Third-party excavation damage to below-ground infrastructure, especially natural gas lines – whether by road paving crews, construction firms, or even homeowners doing yardwork – is a serious public safety concern and source of economic loss. For this reason, every U.S. state has a “Call Before You Dig” law that requires all excavators to dial 811 prior to digging; this lets the relevant utilities mark the location of their lines for all digs and oversee the riskiest ones. However, given the sheer volume of 811 calls – National Grid receives thousands across its U.S. gas service territories every day – how can utilities most effectively identify the riskiest jobs for intervention?
That’s where Urbint comes in. Its AI models, tailored to the specific characteristics of a utility’s service territory, aim to pinpoint which excavations are most likely to result in damage. Even more, Urbint’s software can cross-reference municipal permitting databases and flag excavation work. The result? National Grid and other Urbint gas utility customers can focus their Damage Prevention resources with increased precision; potentially save millions of dollars annually in avoided damage; and minimize disruption to critical networks.
“We are thrilled about the key role National Grid Partners has had in helping us scale both within National Grid and across the industry. Having one of the world’s leading utilities as a partner is a major validation of our mission to leverage AI to make communities safer and more resilient.” – Corey Capasso, CEO and Founder, Urbint
Leading the way and delivering impact
One indication of Urbint’s potential impact is that National Grid’s U.S. gas distribution business has already gone live with the company’s Call Before You Dig risk rating solution across its service territories in New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.
“Urbint has delivered tremendous value to our gas operations business in the U.S. Their use of AI technology has enhanced our ability to flag incidents and excavators with increased foresight and precision, thus helping our customers stay safe.” – Bob Terjesen, Damage Prevention Manager, National Grid U.S. Gas Operations
From here, NGP will continue its collaboration with Urbint to identify new opportunities and use cases to mitigate risk through predictive AI at National Grid and at peer utilities through NGP’s utility innovation network, the Next Grid Alliance. In this way, Urbint, with NGP’s support, will continue to help keep communities around the world more secure and resilient.