CEO Colin Gounden Interviewed by The Denki Shimbun

Via Science CEO Colin Gounden was interviewed by The Denki Shimbun, a Japanese energy newspaper, to discuss our joint initiative with TEPCO. The article was originally published in Japanese and we have translated a portion of it below.

The Denki Shimbun

TEPCO and Via Science announced a joint initiative using artificial intelligence (AI) to prevent failure of power transmission equipment. The proof of concept (PoC) will use Via Science’s technology to predict the deterioration of ACSRs and compression joint sleeves. These predictions will optimize TEPCO’s process of inspecting what equipment needs repairs, improving efficiency and reducing cost.

In this initiative, TEPCO will provide Via Science data related to equipment installation location and inspection history. Via Science will analyze the data to determine what factors may contribute to failure.

Although TEPCO has utilized AI in the past to assess risk across their infrastructure, the traditional “black box” systems made it difficult to understand the reasoning of AI decisions. TEPCO said Via Science’s technology provides “a clear causal relationship between data points, and it can be expected to expand the range of utilization.”

“We used AI to analyze equipment operation data and prioritize risk across equipment, which helps reduce cost,” said Gounden. “The results of this PoC could be applied across similar power transmission equipment globally.”

“Our partnership with TEPCO will give us great support as we expand our business across Asia, including Japan. We are excited to build a long-term relationship with TEPCO,” said Gounden.

TEPCO made a strategic investment in Via Science in November 2016 to gain experience with the company’s proprietary AI technology.

NOTE: We have stayed true to the original intent of the article and apologize for any mistranslations.

Via Science and TEPCO Announce Risk Assessment and Predictive Maintenance Initiative

The joint initiative will utilize analytics and machine learning in an effort to improve reliability, efficiency, and service for TEPCO’s customers.

Cambridge, Mass. – July 6, 2017 – Via Science, Inc. and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. (TEPCO), today signed their joint initiative to use analytics and machine learning to predict and prevent power disruption due to failure of ACSRs and compression joint sleeves.

“Our team will analyze data from over 17,000 miles of transmission wires across Japan to determine how TEPCO can improve reliability for their customers and simultaneously reduce equipment and maintenance costs. ACSRs and compression joint sleeves are two types of equipment that are costly, time consuming, and sometimes dangerous to test. Our machine learning analysis aims to resolve this issue by both identifying vulnerable equipment and, uniquely, providing an explanation of why each piece of equipment has been flagged,” said Dr. Bruno Rousseau, Team Leader, Data Science at Via Science.

Rousseau continued, “Solving this challenge would have major implications for TEPCO and utilities globally. All utilities would benefit from having explanations for their maintenance departments and regulators of why their assets are failing so that they can plan and invest accordingly. We are proud to work with TEPCO to build a solution with such wide reaching potential.”

“Improving reliability, efficiency, and service for our customers has always been a top priority. But in our previous experiences using neural network solutions to support these efforts, we found we wanted more insight into the ‘why’ behind the predictions and recommendations. We are excited by Via Science’s potential to provide transparency, which is absolutely essential to decisions that affect our customers and our assets,” said Akira Matsumoto, an engineer in the transmission department of TEPCO Power Grid.

Matsumoto continued, “We decided to work with Via Science because their customer-centric software solution has been proven with agencies such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to prioritize vulnerabilities and make customized recommendations. Via Science’s core patents are in identifying causality, so beyond simply predicting a power outage or a maintenance need, we expect to pinpoint the contributing factors of failure, such as weather, location, or equipment age. Given the cost of manually collecting and analyzing data across our 50,000 assets, these kinds of tools are invaluable.”

In December 2016, TEPCO made a minority investment in Via Science. This project is the first of many related to risk assessment and predictive maintenance to come from the partnership. “We are excited to launch these innovative, operational improvement initiatives with Via Science. We aim to improve reliability to all our 29 million customers by integrating their unique causal analytics software into our network operations,” explained Hirokazu Yamaguchi, Executive General Manager, Global Innovation and Investments at TEPCO.

Update: TEPCO has published their own press release on the initiative as well as an outline of the proof of concept.

About Via Science

Via Science creates software applications that identify and prioritize risks to critical infrastructure using a combination of high-performance computing, machine learning, and causal analytics. Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Via Science has developed its risk assessment algorithms in conjunction with some of the world’s leading companies and government agencies in energy and security. The company has been featured in Wired Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes for its expertise in causal analytics software applications. For more information, please visit www.viascience.com.

About Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc., headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is the largest utility in Japan. We provide electricity primarily to home and business in the Kanto region of Japan, one of the world’s most heavily populated areas. Worldwide the company has more than 74 subsidiaries and affiliates in 8 countries and employs approximately 33,200 people. Operating Revenues for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, totaled 5.4 trillion Japanese yen. The company was established in 1951 and is listed on the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. For more information, visit http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/corpinfo/index-e.html.

Via Science and TEPCO Partnership Featured in Engerati

Engerati, a global network for energy professionals, featured Via Science’s partnership with TEPCO in their recent article: “Energy transition Japan: ‘We have to disrupt ourselves,’ says TEPCO”.

The article discusses how Japan’s energy retail industry is evolving as more companies invest in innovative technologies. TEPCO’s strategic investment in Via Science is highlighted as an example of this trend. In reference to the partnership, Hirokazu Yamaguchi, Head of Global Innovations for TEPCO, said: “Via Science’s direct experience with US energy agencies and their ability to support our challenges, such as high volumes of data, regulatory transparency requirements and very long-term risk planning needs for multi-billion dollar investments, made them the best match for TEPCO and our customers.”

Last month, Via Science announced its joint initiative with TEPCO, which will use “analytics and machine learning to predict and prevent power disruption due to failure of ACSRs and compression joint sleeves.” This application is the first of many related to risk assessment and predictive maintenance to come from the partnership.

Via Science’s Colin Gounden Interviewed by The Nikkei in Japan

Via Science’s CEO Colin Gounden traveled to Taiwan and Japan in February to meet with several energy and heavy industry companies. While in Tokyo, Colin sat down with journalists Takashi Nishioka and Yuichi Shiga from The Nikkei, Japan’s leading subscription-based business and economic news publication. The article is available only to subscribers, so below we’ve translated the Q&A session that was published as part of the larger article.

Q&A

How do you use artificial intelligence (AI) in the electric power business?
“Via Science is not trying to solve brand new problems in electric power, but rather solve problems that all electric power companies have today. For example, power generation, transmission, and distribution facilities all invest heavily in equipment updates. We can make the analysis of where to invest much more efficient and rigorous.”

Can humans accept what AI has judged?
“People accept AI suggestions when they understand the reasoning behind why the computer made a specific recommendation. Very recent AI advances have allowed computers to understand cause and effect relationships of data points directly from the data. These cause and effect relationships provide transparency into why a computer has made a recommendation. When an AI generated recommendation is transparent, people are more easily convinced. AI recommendations are not always 100% correct, but neither are people. It’s important to set the expectation that the goal of AI is not perfection but rather that AI and people together will have fewer mistakes than either alone.”

Do you think that TEPCO’s problems can be improved as well?
“TEPCO is a big company and there are many potential opportunities for AI throughout the generation, transmission, and distribution business, so we have to discuss priorities. A major area of focus for us is to reduce the costs related to the upgrade and replacement of facilities.”

How will the new Trump administration affect the electric power business?
“In the U.S. presidential election, then candidate Trump and candidate Clinton had very different opinions on almost everything. Perhaps the only area that they did agree on was that investment in power transmission and distribution was necessary, and investment would be continued.”

NOTE: The original interview was conducted in Japanese with answers provided in English through a translator. The final article was published in Japanese only, and we have translated that back to English. We have stayed true to the initial intent of the Q&A and apologize for any mis-translations.

Via Science’s Focus™ Architecture Nominated for Technology Innovation Award

Via Science was honored to be selected as one of three finalists for Techvibes’ Canadian Startup Awards in the Technology Innovation category. The nomination recognizes Via Science’s Focus™ microservices architecture. Focus™ transformed Via Science’s causal analytics capabilities and laid the groundwork for public safety app, CrimeRadar.

Winners were announced during a gala on Thursday, March 2nd at Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto. Sonia Basili, our Talent Management and Operations Leader attended the event on our behalf. Though, sadly we didn’t take home the award, we congratulate all the winners!

Photo courtesy of Techvibes

Via Science Nominated for Montréal International’s Forum sur l’attractivité

Via Science was nominated as part of Montréal International’s first Greater Montreal Business Attractiveness Forum. The event, part of Montréal International’s 20th anniversary celebration, recognized organizations committed to growing Montreal’s economy, and making it an attractive and competitive investment destination.

Sonia Basili, our Talent Management and Operations Leader, attended the event.

Via Science proudly contributes to Montreal’s growth and development, particularly within the tech sector.

Congratulations to our fellow finalists, and STELIA North America, Danone Canada and Ubisoft for taking home the top honors.

Via Science’s Work on CrimeRadar Featured in WIRED, TED Blog

In August, Via Science released public safety digital application, CrimeRadar, in partnership with the Igarapé Institute. The app uses predictive analytics, supported by Via Science’s microservices architecture, Focus™, to forecast the probability of crime occurring throughout metropolitan Rio de Janeiro.

Via Science’s contributions to this app have been featured in several publications since its release, including:

  • WIRED “CrimeRadar is Using Machine Learning to Predict Crime in Rio”
  • TED Blog “Forecasting Crime in Rio de Janeiro”
  • The Atlantic’s City Lab “Mapping ‘Pre-Crime’ in Rio”
  • Artificial Intelligence Online “CrimeRadar is Using Machine Learning to Predict Crime in Rio”
  • Data Informed “Push Your Analytics Out to Customers”
  • World Economic Forum “What happens when we can predict crimes before they happen?”

 

How It Works

  • A user opens the app and can search for a specific address.
  • For example, if a user searches for the Olympic Arena (pictured below), the result is a color-coded guide to potential crime levels within a 250-square meter radius.
  • Users can view the historical data used to generate these ratings through the “Past” feature. The app will display data provided by the Institute of Public Safety detailing types and frequency of crimes in each sector.
  • Users can also filter their search by types of crime and time frame.
  • For more information on CrimeRadar, visit our website.

 

A user opens the app and can search for a specific address.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For example, if a user searches for the Olympic Arena (pictured below), the result is a color-coded guide to potential crime levels within a 250-square meter radius.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Users can view the historical data used to generate these ratings through the “Past” feature. The app will display data provided by the Institute of Public Safety detailing types and frequency of crimes in each sector.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Users can also filter their search by types of crime and time frame.

TEPCO Selects Via Science for Strategic Investment

Japan’s largest electric power supplier, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. (TEPCO), has selected Via Science for its first strategic venture investment in machine learning and analytics.

Cambridge, Mass. – December 6, 2016 – Via Science, Inc. a leader in causal analytics, today announced a minority investment by Japan’s largest electric power supplier, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. (TEPCO). TEPCO’s strategic investment includes capital, as well as sharing subject matter expertise and data to improve the reliability and operating efficiencies of power suppliers and their customers through advanced software analytics applications.

Already Japan’s largest electric power supplier, TEPCO is investing heavily in new technologies that even further improve the quality and variety of services it provides to its 29 million customers.

“Analytics is critical to improving the operational efficiency of energy companies today and allowing them to stay ahead of regulatory and technological disruptions. TEPCO’s investment is a validation of Via Science’s leadership in causal analytics for applications such as identifying critical infrastructure that is at high risk for power outages, years in advance. We are truly honored to be their first venture investment in machine learning and analytics,” said Colin Gounden, CEO of Via Science.

Through this investment, TEPCO will gain experience in Via Science’s proprietary causal analytics software, which goes beyond traditional “black box” machine learning to provide transparency into the rationale for recommendations to improve maintenance, service staffing, cybersecurity and resiliency planning. TEPCO’s customers will also benefit from Via Science’s expertise, as new technologies enable improved reliability and new value-added services.

“To find the team and technology best able to handle the unique challenges in the energy industry, our innovation group evaluated large and small analytics companies across North America, Europe and Asia. Via Science’s direct experience with US energy agencies and their ability to support our challenges, such as high volumes of data, regulatory transparency requirements and very long-term risk planning needs for multi-billion dollar investments, made them the best match for TEPCO and our customers,” explained Hirokazu Yamaguchi, Executive General Manager, Global Innovation and Investments at TEPCO.

Update: Pierce Atwood congratulates Via Science on securing TEPCO’s strategic investment.

About Via Science

Via Science creates software applications that identify and prioritize risks to critical infrastructure using a combination of high-performance computing, machine learning and causal analytics. Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with its research center in Montreal, Quebec, Via Science has developed its risk assessment algorithms in conjunction with some of the world’s leading companies and government agencies in energy and security. The company has been featured in Wired Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and Forbes for its expertise in causal analytics software applications. For more information, please visit www.viascience.com.

About Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. (TSE: 9501), headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is the largest utility in Japan serving more than 29 million homes and businesses. Worldwide the company has more than 74 subsidiaries and affiliates in 8 countries and employs approximately 43,330 people. Consolidated revenue for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2016, totaled 6.8 trillion Japanese yen. The company was established in 1951 and is listed on the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. For more information, visit http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/corpinfo/index-e.html.