In a previous blog I discussed how geographic information system technology is reshaping certain utility industry operations. Another area where we are seeing a ton of activity in is merging GIS data with the Virtual Earth web based mapping application to provide an easy way to provide outage information online to customers through storm center Web sites. This merging allows utilities to visualize and navigate through information and services. Chartwell research highlights this in one of their recent reports entitled “Electric Utility Storm Web Sites and Online Outage Strategies” (see press release at: http://188.8.131.52/pressrelease.cfm?pressrelease_id=167).
A great example of this is the work that iFactor Consulting (www.iFactorConsulting.com) is doing in creating these “storm center” Web sites for Utilities.
Storm Center provides real-time reports on power outages (including both planned maintenance outages and unplanned outages caused by storms, traffic accidents or equipment failure). It is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Storm Center leverages a utility’s outage management system investment by presenting current outage information to customers, utility personnel and regulators. From the utility website, customers/regulators/news agencies can obtain critical information about how an outage affects their business, home, children’s school and monitor the progress of a utility’s efforts to restore power.
It is also important to remember that what you see on the public side is only one part of the overall solution. Most customers also deploy one or more internally facing applications which support information delivery to enterprise, including executives, call center staff, and operations personnel. Some also add portals for the media, emergency services, etc…
You can see some real life examples at Nebraska Public Power District, Consolidated Edison Company of New York and Progress Energy.
In these examples we see innovative products and new tools coming to market aimed at helping Utilities rapidly deliver innovative customer service solutions on the web and put their Geospatial Systems on Steroids! – Jon