Today’s electrical utilities are stuck between two worlds, moving into a promising future while still burdened by legacy technology. Large numbers of new customers are signing up to receive power, and they want top-quality service that will equal what they are used to from other service providers. To deliver the expected level of responsiveness, however, utilities will have to overcome the limitations of aging infrastructure that has outlived its intended lifespan.

Pair advanced grid infrastructure with powerful outage management

Electrical utilities that are entering the smart grid era – with the ability to collect data from their infrastructure – should pair that information with an outage management system that will collect relevant content and use it to enable more timely and accurate disruption detection.

Considering the aging nature of the infrastructure in the U.S. power grid, it’s unsurprising that power outages continue to strike, whether combined with severe weather events or simply due to equipment failures. Utilities that are unable to formulate quick and effective responses to these problems may disappoint their customers, especially if the backend technology used to report the outage and receive information is outdated and unsatisfactory.

A modern outage management system is the answer to these woes, using the content from advanced grid infrastructure to create actionable response plans when something goes wrong. Delivering information directly to linemen via mobile applications, including geographic imaging system coordinates, takes some of the guesswork out of outage responses and helps field teams do the most good in the shortest time possible.

Having a fully digitized way to pass accurate information between office staff and linemen is a great way to shorten the time to power restoration, and to confirm information as the situation changes. Furthermore, such a system can provide the updates demanded by FEMA in the case of severe weather incidents.

Utilities are often hampered by legacy technology that slows down responses and adds manual steps to processes. Making an OMS upgrade is one way to step more fully into the smart grid era, leaving ineffective operations in the past.

Keep customers happy with convenient tech

Solutions that enable effective communication of outage data can help electrical utilities meet customers’ high expectations in addition to smoothing internal operations. Digitizing methods of reporting outages, along with alert and notification systems, allows providers to be more responsive to concerns, without demanding that personnel take time away from their day-to-day duties to manually provide updates and responses.

Utilities with an advanced OMS can also take advantage of the increasing preference for mobile communication and proliferation of smart devices. Through email, text, interactive voice response systems and social media posts, utilities can create multiple channels through which to push out updates and receive concerns from the public.

Today’s customers are more demanding than ever before, experienced as they are with fast-moving digital-native companies such as Amazon. Utilities that are still overly reliant on manual legacy technology for their outage management operations could end up disappointing the public, in terms of both communication options and response times.

The right OMS can both shorten the time it takes to resolve problems and improve the communication around those ongoing situations – such a tech tool is therefore a keystone piece of a true smart utility’s infrastructure.

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