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Northpower provides contracting services across the North Island including engineering, infrastructure management and maintenance and construction.

Northpower leverages AWS to experiment with open data and create artificial intelligence solutions

Northland energy provider, Northpower, collaborated with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the Northland technology community to host a hackathon in Whangārei.

Northland energy provider, Northpower, collaborated with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the Northland technology community to host a hackathon in Whangārei, with the goal of using cloud technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to solve common data problems and provide business insights.

The hackathon was held at digital skills training provider, NGEN Room, and was attended by Northpower, AWS, The Developer’s Institute and NGEN Room, Pacsbridge, and Australian asset analytics software provider Modla, who worked together to find ways to improve the speed and accuracy of Northpower’s vast asset repository.

Using data for growth

Northpower maintains thousands of electricity assets across its Whangārei and Kaipara network, and obtaining and interpreting data to inform maintenance schedules can be a slow and often challenging process.

Using AWS services such as database analytics, AI, and machine learning, the team were able to produce a working prototype of an AI solution that identified and combined multiple data sets, resulting in improved asset maintenance forecasting. Using this approach, Northpower enables data-driven decision making for a more proactive approach to asset maintenance, for example, determining asset condition, predictive failure estimates and overall health trends including identifying high risk assets that need attention.

Throughout the hackathon, AWS shared techniques with the team to explore new ways of converting unstructured data from legacy paper repositories such as scanned documents into open formats, providing the ability for the data to be more easily analysed and used in the maintenance forecasting process.

“It was incredible to see teams come together from different business and community sectors across Northland, who had never worked together, put in long hours of mahi, gain skills and begin an exciting journey towards using AI to get true value from our data,” says Andreas Astrom, Head of Technology and Innovation at Northpower.

Everyone who participated is excited about the opportunities that new technology such as AI can bring, and we’re grateful to our partners for supporting our Whangārei hackathon and collaborating with us on this project.”

“Data can be an invaluable source of growth for organisations in New Zealand, but organisations don’t always know how to leverage it to drive business outcomes,” said Haren Samarasakera, head of greenfield accounts at AWS New Zealand. “Technology events like this hackathon can provide a great opportunity for the community to come together to discover the value of data and ways to easily analyse it, and build a more data-driven culture. As organisations increase the ways they harness data, it will transform how customers problem solve, and unlock benefits such as improved customer experiences, accelerated innovation, and growth.”

“AWS is committed to helping our customers with this journey and we look forward to seeing Northpower and the Northland technology community continue to leverage the latest digital technologies to scale, innovate, and grow.”

The hackathon featured several unique elements reflecting the local nature of the event and its participants. A mihi whakatau was conducted by Northpower rangatira Vern Rosieur to welcome manuhiri from Auckland, Wellington and Australia as the event commenced.

Along with creating a technology solution, participants were also encouraged to create and edit a video documenting the hackathon to capture the collaborative nature of the event.

Northpower Fibre and local IT service providers NorthCloud provided the high bandwidth fibre broadband infrastructure required for the event.