MSBM wants analytic approach to beat electricity theft

Sunday, December 16, 2018

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The Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM) is calling for an industry and academia collaboration with the Jamaica Public Service Company Ltd (JPS), to identify and address the causes of electricity theft and productivity loss related to the practice.

The call was reiterated by Dr Maurice McNaughton, director, Centre of Excellence, MSBM, in his presentation at the JPPS and MSBM-hosted Public Forum, held on Wednesday December 5 at the UWI Regional Headquarters in Mona, under the theme 'Crime & Productivity: The Impact of Electricity Theft'.

McNaughton noted that while many approaches have been implemented in the past decade to tackle the issue, energy losses as a result of electricity theft have continued to grow unabated and currently exceeds 26 per cent.

He suggested that more analytic approaches using real-time data and predictive machine-learning algorithims – similar to those taken by sectors such as banking – could not only benefit JPS, but the nation on a whole.

“Data shows that the losses keep climbing and in an effort to combat this, we at the MSBM recommend that more sophisticated analytical techniques be employed to augment and enhance the traditional approaches currently being utilised.” he stated.

“We have collaborated with industry partners in various sectors of the economy to conduct research, and apply data-driven analytic approaches to unearthing the root cause of several issues. We see, for instance, where banks use predictive analytics to detect credit card fraud and manage credit risk and we believe similar approaches can be used to detect illegal electricity consumption, especially with the kinds of real-time data now being generated through the smart grid metering infrastructure being invested in by JPS.”

In explaining that there is enormous analytic value in the data being produced by JPS, McNaughton noted that electricity consumption can also be used as a proxy for measuring various socio-economic indicators. He believes that there is a whole range of opportunities in the emerging field of “big data for development” that can arise from this kind of applied research collaboration between JPS and UWI.

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