110 THE POWER OF POSSIBILITY NISC | 50 YEARS OF INNOVATION AND MEMBER SERVICE from 5 to 9 p.m. daily. Individuals could win a $100 credit on their bills, and teams representing churches, schools and charitable organizations could win $7,500. Meter Data Management enables NISC Members to manage the load on transformers. Algorithms in the Outage Management System predict where outages occur. Utilities can even catch power theft by detecting meters that have large gaps in usage, a possible indication that someone is bypassing the meter. Behind that business intelligence lies secure, cloud-based software developed by NISC. In 2016, NISC announced a partnership and investment in Electrical Distribution Design (EDD), a Virginia-based company with software that gives utilities greater capabilities to analyze very large data sets and run accurate simulations of their systems. For example, EDD software can reveal a fault on the line and, by analyzing possible scenarios, provide an optimal reconfiguration to prevent outages. “These tools are helping our Members solve problems they’ve never been able to work on before,” says Eisenhauer. iVUE Mosaic, an NISC product released in 2017, produces graphs, charts, maps and other visualizations, transforming complex data into a format that reveals trends, problems and potential solutions. Thisgranularlookatenergydatahelpsutilitieskeepupwith transformations in the energy market. Hentges, the General Manager at Minnesota Valley, envisions a day when utilities can identify the type of energy used by a customer: oil, natural gas, coal, wind or solar. The customer could pay variable rates based on the changing costs of the energy source and could make special requests, such as renewables-only. By providing new ways to analyze usage and more flexi- bility in billing, NISC puts utilities in a better competitive position, he says. “Our industry is continuing to change at a faster and faster pace,” says Hentges. “We need to be agile as forces around us are changing.” When Gary Johnson, CEO and General Manager of Paul Bunyan Communications, is at work in Bemidji, Minnesota, he can keep an eye on his front door at home. If someone tries to punch in the code of the door lock, an alert appears on his smartphone and a camera gives him an image of the person standing on his doorstep. With the live feed from a fully wired smart home, Johnson and other Paul Bunyan customers can check whether they remembered to close the garage door, adjust their thermostats or make sure the home is secure even if they’re thousands of miles away on vacation. Broadband has revolutionized the telecom industry just as smart meters have transformed electric utilities. With the internet of things, customers can ask Alexa (Amazon’s intel- ligent personal assistant) to change the television channel, lower the thermostat, turn on the lights or start the dishwasher. The need for connectivity goes much deeper into rural life: lifesaving telemedicine, online learning, Wi-Fi-enabled farm equipment, telecommuting, Skyping, Googling, streaming, gaming. Broadband is a lifeline — but one not extended every- where in the country. Only 61 percent of rural Americans have continued on page 112