June 4, 2018
Preparing for Hurricane Season 2018
Hurricane Season 2018 began with a fervor, with Tropical Storm Alberto swirling into the Gulf of Mexico even before the official hurricane season start date of June 1. With hurricane season now officially underway, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting an average to above-average season including 10-16 named storms and five to nine hurricanes.¹
Hurricanes have been increasing in intensity across recent years, and Hurricane Season 2017 seemed to confirm this with its 17 named storms and 10 hurricanes.² Some experts are even calling for a new Category 6 to describe these new super storms.¹
This info, coupled with the recently released new estimate of 4,600 deaths caused by Hurricane Maria, has all eyes anxiously looking towards the new hurricane season and how governments, utilities, and third-party companies will be prepared to respond when a devastating storm hits.
How KUBRA is Preparing
KUBRA has many clients that are located right in the path of Atlantic hurricanes, and has been hard at work preparing for this year’s round of storms. Outage maps often receive a staggering amount of traffic during massive power outages caused by storms, and it is important that the maps are consistently available without frustrating loading issues, missing data, or broken maps.
KUBRA’s storm preparation measures prior to major storm events include checking server health, verifying resources are available for any system that may see heightened storm traffic, and preparing 24/7 support plans. During storms our Support Team is often an unsung hero as they provide both proactive and live support to those affected.
In 2017, KUBRA had over 19 clients affected by hurricanes and KUBRA’s Storm Center outage maps became a vital resource during the storms. KUBRA was able to take several proactive measures during the last hurricane season that kept the maps available to customers and media stations alike and withstood the onslaught of 4.8 million map views.
How Utilities Can Prepare
The best defense against the chaos caused by storms is preparation and well-informed customers. The first step towards storm-preparedness is making sure that customer experience tools are in place before the storms hit. Examples of such tools include the Storm Center outage map and Notifi alerts and preference management solutions provided by KUBRA. When implemented, both tools can be a great way to keep customers informed and up-to-date on the latest outage status, storm alerts, ice truck locations, and more.
While these tools can be invaluable during a storm, they don’t have much impact if your customers don’t know about them. Awareness of available resources can take time to build, so it’s important to begin the process now. Marketing campaigns on the benefits of outage maps and opt-in text alerts can be run on a variety of platforms, from social media posts to bill inserts. The more customers that adopt these platforms now, the more informed and satisfied they will be once a storm does strike.
Another great way to raise awareness of customer experience tools is cross-promotion. Outage maps experience the largest amount of traffic during large scale outage events, so this is a great time to promote an alert program. If a customer visits the map to report an outage, it’s a no-brainer to offer a link within the map for them to sign up for text alerts to receive outage updates.
If you’re looking to boost enrollment in your text messaging program, it might be time to consider enrolling 100% of customers in a proactive alerts program. With the most recent TCPA clarifications, utilities now have implicit consent to send outage alerts to customers. PSEG-LI recently took this approach to customer alerts and has received great success enrolling all 1.1 million of their customers.
In addition to the standard usage of outage maps and alerts during a storm, utilities may also want to take advantage of the custom layers available in the newest version of Storm Center. These layers can be used by utilities to plot the locations of heating stations, cooling stations, ice trucks, power charging trucks, and more. National Grid used this feature to show the location of ice trucks after a round of winter storms swept through their service territories. The feature was very well-received in the community and has continued to be used with great success during following storms.
Taking these proactive measures now can help utilities brace for major storm events and keep customers informed when outages do happen. By preparing their systems and enrolling customers, utilities can help prevent panic during storms and reassure customers that steps have already been taken to best protect them against the upcoming hurricanes.