Outage communication 2.0

Most of you have probably experienced what it’s like to be left in the dark during a power outage. You may even have been left without power for an extended amount of time due to some major storm. We all know what that can be like, but with the over 7.5 million outages from Hurricane Sandy still fresh in our minds; it’s a good time to take stock of what you can do when the power’s out.

Cooperatives do a great job of keeping the power on, and you can bet your local cooperative acts incredibly fast when an outage occurs. And, your cooperative definitely wants to keep you informed on the restoration process. But, what can you personally do to be proactive in getting information?

Thanks to new technologies, there are a myriad of ways in which to find out information.

David Stuva, President/CEO of Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative in Auburn, says, “At RECC, we are committed to providing the very best, modern technologies for members to get 

information about outages. We utilize our Outage Management System (OMS) to notify members via text or automated call. We also have a Facebook page that members can visit to find information. And, of course, members can always call the office to report outages.”

One of the big issues that cooperatives face during outages is the problem with jammed phone lines. The phones can only support so many calls at one time, and even with the addition of answering services and/or more personnel, members may receive a busy signal. That’s why cooperatives like RECC have turned to other means of communication.

You may be asking yourself how you can get information from Facebook when you don’t have power. Because most modern cellphones now have the capability to access the Internet, you can still get information from the site even while waiting for the power to come back on. Many cooperatives are now updating social media sites regularly to try to get information out.

And that’s not all they’re doing.

“At RECC, we also plan to roll out mobile access using a new self-serve solution designed for both the Web and mobile devices. Members will be able to access their account information, see account history and even pay their bill. They will also be able to use the system to provide information on outages and receive updates on the status. We’re already doing most of that right now, but the National Information Solutions Cooperative’s SmartHub groups all of that under one umbrella and allows access through your smartphone or tablet,” says Stuva.

Just imagine being able to use your phone to take a picture of a tree that fell across lines powering your home, and then using the app to send that picture along with an outage report. Talk about being proactive! You’ll definitely be helping get your power back on faster with the new tools.

Of course, that doesn’t mean any of the traditional methods of keeping in touch with the co-op will go away. You’ll still have the ability to call in as always. But having these new tools should enable you to keep more closely in touch with your co-op.

Coming Next Month

Be sure to check back next month for tips on making your phone’s battery last longer.