Since 2012, persistent power failures in Ghana have negatively affected its economy and given rise to the term “Dumsor Dumsor” — meaning “lights off-on” in the local Akan language. With the aim of dramatically reducing outages in Ghana, the Government of Ghana and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) are investing in increasing the quality of the electric grid. However, traditional methods of measuring grid performance are costly and inefficient, so MCC is partnering with a UC Berkeley team to pilot new technologies to measure the grid’s improvement. Led by CEGA affiliate Catherine Wolfram and Professor Prabal Dutta, the team is developing a novel method of automatically crowdsourcing grid measurements using smartphones (GridWatch) and new low-cost fixed point sensors. Utilizing these two sensing methodologies in conjunction with cellular networks, the team is piloting a uniquely scalable grid monitoring system. The data collected by this system will help answer questions about when and where outages occur, how long they last, and whether infrastructure improvement investments result in improved power availability and reliability. Such a system has promise to provide data essential to measuring the efficacy of the grid investments, and to measuring the socioeconomic impacts of power reliability. Results forthcoming.
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