Extreme Weather: How can mobile technology help Utility providers?

Posted by Rachael Pullen on September 7, 2012

With one of the wettest summers in recent history the weather in Britain is more extreme than ever before. These periods of prolonged drought and then continuous rain and flooding are putting even more pressure on UK utility companies; at a time when the public is demanding lower rates and accountability for response times and notification of problems such as power outages and floods.

In an economic climate that is seeing companies across the UK look to reduce costs and streamline processes whilst still providing efficient customer service, how can already pressurised organisations like utility companies use the latest mobile technologies to provide both cost saving and coordinated workforce management?

When an emergency situation strikes it’s not just an “all hands on deck” approach that is required. Complex organisation and scheduling is necessary to ensure that previously scheduled jobs are still considered and planned for accordingly. The art of reshuffling job priorities, people and customers is a difficult one and one that needs to be based on an automated, organised system pre-configured with carefully considered business rules.

By harnessing the power of the latest in mobile technologies, in times of emergency when a rapid response is required, utility companies are able to respond by providing up-to-date and accurate real-time information to customers, employees and stakeholders. By connecting the field workers with the back office and management everyone can easily gain organisational visibility. It enables the field workers to communicate not only with the office but with each other, jobs can be assigned quickly based on the location and priority, and customers are kept updated by text message and telephone.

Of course there has to be a robust design for workforce management for mobile technology in this sector to work. It is not as simple as just scheduling people to work certain hours. A process for emergency response should be built in with automatic decisions occurring to determine which crews will respond and which crews will remain on scheduled work. Cyclic planning should also be a factor, enabling utility companies to plan for times of heavy demand.

By taking advantage of the latest in smartphone and tablet technology in connection with a mobile workforce management strategy any utility provider can streamline their emergency responses and improve situational awareness