May 22, 2019 3 Ways to Utilize Crowdsourcing in the Energy Sector

Projects in the energy sector require precision and creativity and often include working with unusual or challenging data. Stakes are high in terms of safety and profitability. Crowdsourcing in the energy sector can provide solutions to the unique challenges this industry faces by helping companies tap special skill sets across all aspects of complex projects.
Topcoder makes it easy to quickly turn the challenges faced by the energy sector into smart, industry-specific solutions. Here are three ways Topcoder has harnessed the power of crowdsourcing to create solutions for the energy sector:

Worker Safety

Firstly, worker safety is paramount in the energy sector and encompasses a variety of factors. Jobs in the energy industry pose safety hazards for even the most experienced workers. Data analysis and computer vision can help identify risks and prevent accidents. And Topcoder projects have helped companies add worker protection through crowdsourced solutions.
In one project, a series of Topcoder competitions resulted in a computer vision solution that can “see” impending threats and warn workers or trigger automatic stops to prevent accidents. This solution can reduce injuries among tired or inexperienced workers.
In another challenge, an energy company needed to assess how its employees were using personal protective equipment (PPE). Topcoder first used its community to generate an organized data set regarding workers’ use of PPE. Then, using the data, a competition resulted in computer vision algorithms that can analyze how workers are using PPE and give oil and gas companies the ability to make changes that increase worker compliance and safety.

Unique Data

Companies in the energy sector are often faced with unusual data sets that can’t be easily managed with existing solutions. Topcoder has used crowdsourcing to generate solutions for complex projects, including an analysis of aquifer boundaries and mud log digitization.
The mud logging project was particularly complex, requiring digitization of logs with varying formats, graphs, and handwritten annotations. The solution generated by the Topcoder community combined human-assisted work, automated OCR, and machine learning algorithms. The result saved the company 50 years in processing time and generated millions in potential revenue from the insights gained.

Risk Management

Finally, risk management is critical for the energy sector. Safety, economic, and environmental risks must be assessed when planning project sites and protecting assets. Topcoder has provided solutions for fault identification, aquifer boundary location, and pipeline threat detection. Our fault identification challenge involved a two-step process that first generated a visualization and labeling tool, then used that tool in a second competition to apply labels to cracks and determine relationships between faults. The resulting solution was fast and efficient – the right tool to save the client time and funds.
Additionally, for more case studies in the energy sector and beyond, download our free e-book See What Lies Beyond the Surface: Energy + Topcoder Data Science & Analytics.
We recognize that energy companies are rightfully concerned with security when seeking outside partners and sharing sensitive data. At Topcoder, our rigorous security protocols, combined with our standard agreements, NDAs, atomization, pseudonyms, and obfuscation of data, provide crowdsourced solutions without ever sacrificing a customer’s security.
In conclusion, these are just a few of the ways that crowdsourcing with Topcoder has helped companies in the energy sector solve complex challenges. For industry-specific solutions, energy companies are having success accessing incredible digital talent and executing successful projects via the Topcoder platform.

Mike Morris


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