By James Bales
Fortunately for many, Juno, the blizzard that hit the Northeastern part of the United States last week, was not the storm of the century the U.S. National Weather Service predicted. However, there was still a lot of planning and precaution taken by utilities companies to ensure citizens, as well as road crews and linemen stayed safe on the job while working around the clock to restore power. With their best workers on standby and ready to respond, utility companies across the Northeast scheduled all personnel to report to work immediately.
They also arranged for contractors, including tree crews, to assist the utility’s own skilled workforce and coordinated with county and municipal emergency management personnel to inform them of outages and expedite restoration efforts. They ensured that additional supplies, such as poles, transformers and other equipment were available.
It’s important to have plans like this in place, plans that are often made in the office with a great deal of strategic foresight but once in the field, sitting 20 feet in the air in a bucket truck or on the top of a utility pole is where real problems can occur. Smart, fast thinking is mandatory for the linemen and crews whose job is to restore power and keep the electrical grid running smoothly in any condition. On a job in extreme weather situations, even as prepared as possible, working in high voltage areas is always a risk and linemen require enhanced preparedness in case of an emergency.
The Energy and Utilities employees who work so hard to keep us plugged in are the ideal professional that can benefit from a new approach to mobile technology. Traditionally they had to go back to the truck or office to collaborate with others, double check work orders, or troubleshoot complex problems. Data and analytics may be accessible, but mostly from a keyboard.
A new app from IBM and Apple is designed to change all of that. That’s why this week at the DistribuTECH Power Transmission Conference, IBM and Apple are introducing a new IBM MobileFirst iOS solution specifically designed for utility employees who work outside, rain or shine. The Field Connect app, part of the Service Operations suite was developed to put the power of analytics in the hands of field workers, giving them real-time access to insight regardless of location or conditions.
Regardless of the weather, this type of innovation for the Energy and Utilities industry is like putting a digital toolbox into the hands of the crews who can use it most. New IBM MobileFirst apps are changing the way people do their jobs by bringing big data analytics to their fingertips. Enterprise mobility is growing fast and IBM and Apple are unlocking its full potential in the workplace.
Field technicians are constantly on the go, but with the Field Connect app they will be safer, more productive, and better connected than ever before. With this real-time companion, field technicians are empowered to collaborate with one another and adjust to ever changing situations.