Unless various departments in a certain area collaborate, it could be very difficult to see where improvements can be made to increae power grid efficiency and reliability.
A recent program run by researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles [UCLA] aggregated information from various sources: the latest census, land use information and utility data. By mapping out this information on a block-by-block basis, UCLA can determine how much power is consumed in each zone, comparing it to income and building types. Privacy is protected by the fact that the data is only displayed down to the block level. The map is available to consumers, but the real target is city planners who are concerned about power grid efficiency and reliability.
If city planning officials can determine which blocks consume the most power during a certain season, they can use that information to plan where improvements to the power grid can be made. For example, if older infrastructure is under more demand, the possibility of a blackout increases in the hot summer months when air conditioning use is highest. By focusing infrastructure improvements in the area of high demand, they can prevent future problems that would affect the whole power grid. Regulators could use similar data to determine which buildings or businesses are up to the proper efficiency standards.