Utilities during power outages need to better use technology to communicate

Our office was without full power in our office for nearly 48 hours following the aftermath caused by Hurricane Irene. We had lots of company. Local municipalities have gotten smarter about communicating with residents during major local events like snowstorms or hurricanes. I wish I could say the same for utilities.

In no way do I mean to knock the efforts of all the great linemen that have come to help restore power after the hurricane. But these people are seemingly forced to run around like chickens with their heads cut off to help wherever it’s needed. Why are things done the way they are when it could be so much better? It’s not like they did not know a hurricane was on the way.

For example – crews came into the Northeast both in advance, during and after the storm. I asked one of the crews near my office how they were receiving information on what to do and where to go next and he shook his head and said that he received many different contradictory messages from various levels of authority. Now it was my turn to shake my head. Today’s technology allows for the lightning fast creation of small topical websites, mobile distribution lists and even groups that could act as an aggregation platform for local community, county and state communication for officials and crew before, during and even following significant events.

It cannot be a question of expense. The cost/benefit of having a centralized communication platform for disaster relief is tremendous and at times could be life-saving. With all the money available for state and federal disaster relief I cannot believe that the cost of creating a simple website combined with a small team to aid in administering it to monitor and send out messages would more than pay for itself in helping teams be more prepared as well as efficient.

Adding a mobile site would be a great way to communicate since SMS texts could be deployed to communicate with everyone in the field or sent to individual people or crews on demand. Every lineman on every crew has a mobile device that would support SMS campaigns. For those that have smartphones they could easily be directed to the mobile site for more information.

I don’t expect my thought here is anything revolutionary but I am amazed that it’s not already SOP – standard operating procedure. Maybe it is SOP in some locations but it should be universal.
Do you agree?

About markkolier

Futurist, entrepreneur, left lane driver
This entry was posted in Best business practices, Communication, Mobile Communication and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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