Embrace the World of Data: A New Age in Utilities
Technology has exploded in recent years. In looking at a picture from Pope Benedict XVI’s inauguration in 2005, not a single person is holding a smartphone or tablet. In fact, there is only one person in the back of the photo holding a flip phone. In looking at a picture from Pope Francis’ inauguration in 2013, nearly everyone is holding up a smartphone, iPad, or other device taking pictures and videos of the event. Data has become ingrained into our lives; photos, videos, maps, and other data are exchanged with the instant click of a button. Data is becoming more ingrained into our professional fields as well and has a unique role in the utility industry.
Uses of Technology
As public service entities, utility companies work to ensure that the public receives the power, electricity, water, and other amenities they need on an everyday basis. When repair calls are received, or major construction projects undertaken, servicemen are using tablets and other devices to take photos of specific parts that need to be replaced or simply to record progress on a project. If a pipe bursts or other emergency occurs, then a map can be quickly created on a device marking the spot(s) of the incident. This map can be shared with those responding to the scene and with the utility company’s upper management.
Another useful technology is software for tracking contracts. Utility companies manage thousands upon thousands of contracts and need software tools for managing and tracking such contracts, and so a wide array of products is now available. These programs are easy to use and significantly ease the administrative burden of creating, updating, tracking, and deleting contracts day-to-day.
The Anticipation of FirstNet
FirstNet is also a new technology that will soon affect the utility industry. It is a wireless, high-speed broadband network that is currently being designed for public safety entities. Although not usually considered “public safety,” utility companies are being included in the development of FirstNet because of the critical role they play in responding to and recovering from major disasters. FirstNet will enable the instantaneous exchange of data on a day-to-day basis as well as in the aftermath of disaster. The public will not have access to this network so that public safety agencies can conduct their business without delay. FirstNet is expected to be partially operational by 2016, and may not be fully operational until 3-5 years after that.
Technology is revolutionizing our world and making day-to-day operations easier than ever before. Consider ways in which your utility company can become more efficient by adopting new strategies for sending, receiving, and tracking data.