July 18, 2017
Austin Energy Keeps Users Informed With New Outage Map and Alerts
The new Storm Center outage map is accessible on the Austin Energy website, and can be viewed on both desktop and mobile devices. “Our customers told us they wanted a solution that worked on portable devices that do not rely on WiFi during outages,” said Robert Cullick, Director of Communications and Marketing. “It was time to move to a newer technology.”
The outage map is cloud hosted, responsive, and uses ADA-compliant, friendly icons for the visually impaired to indicate outage locations. The map provides outage details including the number of customers affected, outage start time, and estimated time of restoration. The map also gives users the ability to toggle the weather radar overlay on and off, and the ability to switch between English and Spanish.
A unique feature of this map is the Hazards Layer, which users can turn on in the legend. The layer displays distinct icons on the map at the locations of hazards, such as low wires, downed poles, trees on power lines, etc. The total number of hazards is also displayed in the summary menu, along with the number of active outages, total number of affected customers, and date and time the information was last updated. The innovative Hazard Layer feature helps Austin Energy keep its customers informed and safe.
From the outage map, as well as the website, users can access the new Outage Reporting and Status (OR&S) feature. With this new feature, users can report or check the status of an outage by entering their account number or phone number, plus their zip code. Users can also request a callback after restoration and sign up for future text message outage alerts.
In addition to the Storm Center map, Austin Energy also launched the Notifi alerts and preference management solution. With Notifi, users are now able to receive two-way text message outage alerts in both English and Spanish (97% of non-English callers to the organization’s customer service desk prefer Spanish). Users can register for alerts by simply texting “REGISTER” to the “AUSTIN” (287846) shortcode. Users are then prompted to text back their account number or phone number and zip code, and accept the terms and conditions to complete their registration.
Once registered, customers will begin receiving outage communications from Austin Energy. They will also have the ability to report outages by texting “OUT” to the same shortcode. After an outage has been reported, users will receive text updates on the status of the outage until power is restored, though users can text “STAT” to receive an update at any time.
When the outage map and alerts system was pushed live, Austin Energy simultaneously launched several marketing assets to assist with user adoption and engagement. The homepage of the Austin Energy website features a large banner promoting the outage map, and calls to sign up for outage alerts can be found within the map itself.
In addition, Austin Energy worked with KUBRA to produce two instructional videos for customer use, which have been published on the Austin Energy YouTube page. The first video takes users step-by-step through the process to register for outage alerts, while the second video reviews the features and functionality of the outage map.
About Austin Energy
Austin Energy is the nation’s eighth largest publicly-owned electric utility and a department of the City of Austin. Their mission is to safely deliver clean, affordable, reliable energy and excellent customer service. Austin Energy provides electricity to more than 448,000 customers and a population of almost one million in the city of Austin, several neighboring cities, unincorporated areas of Travis County, and a portion of Williamson County.