The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Department of Energy (DoE) launched a call to action asking utilities and outage data companies to voluntarily share their data with the Outage Data Initiative Nationwide (ODIN) for better real-time, standardized, and transparent power outage data.

In a joint announcement, OSTP and DoE gave utilities and outage data companies until Dec. 9 to agree to share data to expand the real-time collection of data to all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

“This commitment will improve the transparency and consistency of outage information, enabling emergency managers, critical infrastructure partners, and other utilities to respond better to extreme events,” the announcement stated.

The data call comes amid a push by the Biden administration to understand the outsized impact that power outages can have on disadvantaged communities.

In recent years, power outages have been driven primarily by extreme weather events and have increased markedly, exceeding eight hours of interruption in 2020 and seven hours in 2021, according to the White House.

These outages disproportionately affect historically overburdened and underserved communities.

“We need robust, comprehensive, and transparent power outage data to inform investments in grid resilience and restoration, deliver immediate benefits to our existing emergency response systems, and provide visibility into equity,” the announcement stated. “Accessible, standardized power outage data can improve response times and save lives when combined with other emergency response systems.”

The Federal government has put data standards, data security, and computational tools in place to take a giant step toward the future. Now, it wants electric utility partners to provide access to this data.

The White House plans to announce the utility companies that made commitments to share their data with ODIN on Dec. 14 during its Electrification Summit.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.