Addressing a one billion Rand problem

Vizibiliti Insight Predictive Cable Theft Solutions

Cable theft business problem

 

Cable theft globally is a major infrastructure concern. In South Africa electrical utility providers and distributors are losing over a billion Rand a year due to cables that have been stolen. Using predictive intelligence Vizibiliti Insight can map where theft is most likely to occur next and what the best possible solution to managing the risk would be.

A single substation can cost up to 50 million Rand therefore identifying which specific area’s geographically are likely to be impacted is of key importance. The project’s significance is in the integration of many different data sources some are internal from the utility provider and several from external and open data sources.

Results

It was found that China is the largest buyer of copper for the South African market. As such when the copper price in China rises so do the occurrences of cable theft. This is one of many examples where monitoring one global factor can have a significant influence on a local event.

 

Data suggested that there was an increase in cable theft incidents when citizens from countries surrounding South Africa migrated back after December and January. Among the countries identified to have the greatest impact on cable theft were Mozambique and Zimbabwe. A component of reducing this risk could be to monitor the influx of foreign citizens from certain countries with Chinese copper prices and newly laid copper cables. Subsequent results showed that newly laid copper cables were at higher risk of being stolen than more established sites since it was easier to dig up cables.

A key objective for Vizibiliti Insight is to combine macro data sources (any data collected from factors outside the control of a business that impact the bottom line) and micro data sources (any information which is internally controlled by the business including, data from several internal departments) together with financial performance metrics. Ultimately this enables a business to know what affects the business from the outside environment, how that impacts the business internally and what the resulting financial performance is.

Financial cost

 

Cable theft globally is a major infrastructure concern. In South Africa electrical utility providers and distributors are losing over a billion Rand a year due to cables that have been stolen. Using predictive intelligence Vizibiliti Insight can map where theft is most likely to occur next and what the optimal recommendation to manage the risk would be.

A single substation can cost up to 50 million Rand therefore identifying which specific area’s geographically are likely to be impacted is of key importance. The project’s significance is the integration of many different data sources some of which are internal to a utility provider, external including open data sources.

Impact across South Africa

 

The effects of cable theft do not only reside with the utility provider and power distributor. Monitoring the effects at an industry, household and person level play a significant role in reducing and eliminating the problem. At the moment effects on industry can only partially be calculated – financial and otherwise.

Distressed municipalities (municipalities that have been unable to deliver basic services to their communities on a regular basis) have been found to cause social uprisings in the form of service delivery protests that act as a domino effect on other communities struggling with power outages. Part of the Vizibiliti Insight social model is to monitor social media networks targeting keywords that are correlated with intermittent power supply, damage to municipal property and increases in drug abuse reports. Findings have proven that the drug ‘nyope’ is directly linked in some communities to cable theft and non-technical losses to the utility provider.

By monitoring and correlating several macro indicators with one another the ability to create early-warning systems which proactively alert security authorities, social support programs and community leaders improves. Vizibiliti Insight looks forward to assisting in the provision of sophisticated predictive insights which benefit a complete value chain of power generators and consumers.

Community ownership

 

An interesting finding was that current community sentiment toward the protection of municipal property providing power suggested the responsibility of looking after the infrastructure was only that of the electrical utility provider. A future state which Vizibiliti Insight and South Africa’s largest electricity producer and generator envisage is where communities take on infrastructure as their own asset.

This movement is supported by many communities who will not tolerate cable theft any longer. In the long term the protection of municipal assets, support from the local communities and National Government will play a major role in risk management of high value assets.

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