Unlike many other utility providers operating today, Dixie Electric had already upgraded from a pen-and-paper organizational system in its offices to use a digital outage management system (OMS).
However, this initial OMS was not optimized and problems emerged over time. For instance, the provider was not quick to update the software and its staff was interested in searching for a new solution that could deliver more flexibility and mobile connectivity.
Seeing that dataVoice’s OMS solutions would enable office and field personnel to stay in constant contact and exchange accurate, up-to-date information, the utility switched providers in 2017. The new solution immediately passed its first test, as the southern Mississippi community experienced a rare snowstorm soon after implementation.
The top priority with the new rollout was mobile functionality, giving personnel a way to reach one another while away from the office. With the previous OMS in place, communication with linemen was limited to radioing dispatch or placing phone calls. The rollout began with the lineman app and expanded to include the meter inspection and damage assessment tools. The simple learning curve ensured the new capabilities were actually used.
One thing decision-makers at Dixie Electric insisted upon is that they did not want to lose access to their historical outage data. The dataVoice team worked with the utility’s systems to pull all the existing data into the new system. When the new OMS went live, all that information was accessible.
[Linemen are] very receptive and it’s totally changed the way we operate during an outage situation, and gathering information related to outage situations.
Randy Smith, General Manager, Dixie Electric Power Association
With a more flexible OMS, the Dixie Electric team has gained new capabilities at the office and in the field. It is now possible for linemen to pull up a live map of the system from their mobile devices rather than radioing the dispatcher. They can also close out tickets while still onsite, creating more timely and accurate records of jobs completed.
Staff members in any location can take advantage of features such as pinging meters to determine the extent of an outage. Even those who go months without using the application soon get back up to speed due to its intuitive design.
“[Linemen are] very receptive and it’s totally changed the way we operate during an outage situation, and gathering information related to outage situations.” -Randy Smith, General Manager, Dixie Electric Power Association
Now that the rollout of mobile tools to electrical field crews has been completed successfully, Dixie Electric is considering how dataVoice’s systems could apply to the nascent broadband internet side of the utility.
The relationship with dataVoice has remained strong in the years since implementation, especially due to the fact that Dixie Electric stakeholders are able to have their voices heard as part of the customer advisory group. Promising ideas for OMS features, inspired by real-world experiences, make their way into future updates, providing a level of user-friendliness the utility’s previous OMS could not deliver.