Microsoft has worked with BP to develop software for helping it to better respond after crisis events, such as the 2005 hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. The hurricanes significantly impacted BP workers, both on job sites and at their homes. BP's Steve Fortune says the software is Web-based.
"The software is, is very much been enough to visualize, from a map perspective, anything from kind of infrared, radar images, visual images of how the weather's affecting certain regions, automatically bring all those things together on a map, where we can also visualize 'where are our assets located?' and also as we get onshore, 'where are our people, where do they actually live at their personal homes, and again, could they be impacted from the path of the hurricane?' And then from that, we have all the right context visually to really understand 'well, how would we set up our response?'."
Fortune says Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were the catalysts for developing this real-time software.
"But the solution is so powerful that we're now looking, you know 'where is BP' and how we use this worldwide. So certainly a key topic of the moment is 'how would you respond to a worldwide pandemic?' So whether it's Avian flu or any other kind of pandemic, 'how do you know where all your people are, where your assets are, how is pandemic spreading and who is actually available to come to work and be able to keep making sure we're producing oil and gas into the economy as where we operate?' Once the event's over, you can actually go back to all the information and play through the scenario of what actually happened and actually learn from that and optimize our processes. We hold kind of what we call a blue chalk event in BP, where we actually invite outside industries to come in and talk to us around certain scenarios and how companies should be ready for those scenarios. And what we saw, there's a whole number of other different industries and communities that were out there that have to deal with these kinds of situations. So if you think of like the tsunamis that have happened in the past, whether its earthquakes, whether it was like the 9-11 event, you end up with a very big crisis response. And I think the solution that we put together could actually be broadened out and help many different communities as well as lots of industries."
Fortune says often it's the support services that can prevent the uninterrupted flow of oil and natural gas after a catastrophic event.
"And so even though we responded very well as a company to get our facilities ready for operation, there's even pipelines and terminals that were so significantly damaged, it actually resulted in many months of delay of being able to get oil and gas flowing back into the U.S. economy. So I think what this kind of solution then allows you to do is really understand kind of where those pinch points are, that will allow you to kind of focus your response."
The software developed for BP's rapid response after hurricanes and other events was displayed at the recent Global Energy Forum at the Marriott Westchase last week.