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September 2017

Machine Learning Helps Power Down Electricity Theft in Jamaica

Anna Lerner's picture
  • In Jamaica, about a quarter of electricity produced is stolen or “lost” through non-paying customers and/or accounting errors. Manual detection has failed to make a difference in reducing this theft.
  • ESMAP’s technical assistance team implemented a machine learning model to help Jamaican utility JPS identify and decrease incidents of theft.
  • The machine learning model is based on an open source code, and is available for free to any utility.
About a quarter of the electricity produced by Jamaica’s energy utility, Jamaica Public Service (JPS) is stolen. When traditional, labor-intensive methods failed to produce lasting results, Jamaica tried a different approach: machine learning.
 
Globally, billions of dollars are lost every year due to electricity theft, wherein electricity is distributed to customers but is never paid for. In 2014 alone, Jamaica’s total power transmission and distribution system reported 27% of losses (due to technical and non-technical reasons), close to double the regional average. While the utility company absorbs a portion of the cost, it also passes some of that cost onto consumers. Both actors therefore have an incentive to want to change this.
 
To combat this, JPS would spend more than $10 million (USD) on anti-theft measures every year, only to see theft numbers temporarily dip before climbing back up again. The problem was, these measures relied primarily on human-intensive, manual detection, and customers stealing electricity used more and more sophisticated ways to go around regularly metered use. JPS employees would use their institutional knowledge of serial offenders and would spend hours poring over metering data to uncover irregular patterns in electricity usage to identify shady accounts. But it wasn’t enough to effectively quash incidents of theft.

Smart investments? The costs of choice and excessive switching in pension funds

Alvaro Enrique Pedraza Morales's picture

Haven’t we been here before? Getting budgets to more perfectly reflect the policy priorities of government has long been the holy grail of budgeting in the public sector, but the reality of government budgeting is messy compromise. If the history of various countries efforts to promote policy coherence shows one thing clearly it is that the budget is the wrong tool to achieve this. Why is this and how can governments achieve greater coherence in support of higher level policy goals? 

To achieve ‘learning for all’, we must create inclusive systems for students with disabilities

Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo's picture
We should be looking at educational opportunities for all children and young people with disabilities. (Photo: Masaru Goto / World Bank)


While schools and educators aim at more inclusive approaches across the globe, it’s important to acknowledge that mainstream education settings can unknowingly exclude deaf and hard of hearing people. 

According to the World Federation of the Deaf, out of the 70 million deaf people in the world, 56 million receive no education at all.  This is especially true among deaf women and girls, and people living in developing countries.

This is part of the learning crisis that we at the World Bank are concerned about.

How do taxes and transfers impact poverty and inequality in developing countries?

Gabriela Inchauste's picture
I was at a conference a couple of years ago and a senior colleague, one who I deeply respect, summarized the conversation as: “our labor data are crap.”   I think he meant that we have a general problem when looking at labor productivity (for agriculture in this case) both in terms of the heroic recall of days and tasks we are asking survey respondents for, but also we aren’t doing a good job of measuring effort. 

Budget-strapped cities are creating financing—out of thin air

Luis Triveno's picture

Last week I went swimming with manta rays, sharks and dolphins along some of the world’s most spectacular reefs. Well at least, it felt like I was swimming among them. With my special 3D glasses on, it was as if I was flying across coral atolls, plunging through clouds of jellyfish and darting in and out of brightly colored corals alongside hundreds of thousands of tropical fish.

In a new film by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas – The Last Reef 3D: Cities Beneath the Sea – viewers embark on a worldwide journey to explore coral reef habitats from Palau and French Polynesia in the Pacific to the Bahamas in the Caribbean.

As visually stunning as the film is, it carries a very sobering message: human activity is having a significant negative impact on the world’s oceans.

Many of us who work on climate change and oceans have known about the threat from ocean acidification and warming for a long time. Increasing carbon dioxide emissions have resulted in rising surface and air temperatures. Moreover, ocean acidity is rising owing to an increased absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Increasing acidity levels in turn make it harder for corals to grow and for shell-forming animals like mussels to build their protective housing, leading to knock-on effects of biodiversity loss in ocean called “dead zones”.

The movie’s message is reinforced by a recent report published in Science Magazine which says the oceans are acidifying at a pace not seen in 300 million years. Historically, ocean acidification has led to mass extinctions. What makes today’s situation particularly alarming is that the rise in CO2 is not due to volcanic eruptions or other natural occurrences but is the direct consequence of human behavior over the course of the last century or so.

Six Questions with Chris Udry

David McKenzie's picture

Public procurement of services, works and supplies is estimated to account for 15-20% of GDP in developing countries, and up to 50% or more of total government expenditure. Efficient and effective procurement is vital to core government functions, including public service delivery and provision of infrastructure. Weaknesses in procurement systems can lead to large-scale waste of public funds, reduced quality of services, corruption, and loss of trust in government.

Malaysia: Does counting GDP count when it comes to development?

Richard Record's picture
Zanizbar, Tanzania. Photo by Sonu Jani / World Bank

En la Cumbre sobre el Desarrollo Sostenible de las Naciones Unidas (ONU) que se celebra esta semana, los océanos del mundo van a tener toda la atención que merecen desde hace tiempo, pero que no siempre han recibido. Ellos son el tema de interés del Objetivo de Desarrollo Sostenible 14: “Conservar y utilizar en forma sostenible los océanos, los mares y los recursos marinos para el desarrollo sostenible”.
 
La inclusión de los océanos por primera vez en el programa internacional de desarrollo ilustra los desafíos ambiciosos y las soluciones integrales que las naciones están adoptando. Con la aceptación de los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible (ODS), los países están exigiendo un futuro en el cual la gestión de la naturaleza se realice de manera que impulse las economías, mejore el bienestar y proteja vidas, ya sea en la ciudad de Washington o Nairobi, en la tierra o en el mar.

Let’s talk money: New campaign helps Cambodia’s new generation on financial management

Ratchada Anantavrasilpa's picture
Climate smart farming practices in Senegal.
Climate-smart farming practices in Senegal. Photo: M. Tall/CCAFS



Launching on September 25, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will call for no less than an end to poverty, hunger and malnutrition by 2030. This is welcome news--and for the nearly 800 million people worldwide who will go to bed hungry-- long overdue.

To get there, it’s not just about raising yields. It’s also about managing risks to protect the most vulnerable. Along with gains in productivity, we also need more resilient agricultural systems. Failing this, unmanaged risks will upend the road to 2030. Climate change only ups the ante with promise of increasing weather extremes and new and more virulent pest and disease outbreaks. 

Chart: What Are the World's Wettest Countries?

Tariq Khokhar's picture

Africa has the world’s least developed weather, water, and climate observation network, with half of its surface weather stations not reporting accurate data. Hydrological and meteorological (“hydromet”) hazards are responsible for 90% of total disaster losses worldwide. Being able to understand, predict, and warn citizens about natural hazards and disasters drives the ability of governments to reduce economic risks and save lives.

The World Bank’s research shows that annually, countries can save US$13 billion in asset losses alone by investing in hydromet services. This week, Africa’s first-ever ministerial level Meteorology Hydromet Forum formally recognizes the role hydromet services play in development.

How Islamic finance is helping fuel Malaysia’s green growth

Victoria Kwakwa's picture
Photo: bigstock/ f9photos

Income growth is not the sole aim of economic development. An equally important, albeit harder to quantify objective is a sense of progress for the entire community, and a confidence that prosperity is sustainable and shared equitably across society for the long term.  


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