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communications in severe weather

Communications for Utilities Providers in Severe Weather

In February 2021, the State of Texas fell victim to unprecedented cold temperatures, snowstorms and widespread utilities outages, affecting millions of citizens throughout the state. With its power grid independent from those of neighboring states, Texas immediately experienced a crisis-level test to its power infrastructure.

The year prior, utility giant PG&E began the process of de-energizing numerous portions of its grid as a public safety measure, following widespread wildfires, severe winds, dry conditions, and heightened ignition risks. This impacted 172,000 customers in 22 counties and 7 tribal communities.

With spring and summer weather approaching, many parts of North America will experience severe seasonal weather events that have the potential to impact power grids and dispersed utility facilities. This presents utility providers with unique challenges in keeping their workforces safe and informed. Because downed power lines and surging waters create obvious hazards for customers and employees, an intelligent response plan must include a reliable means of communication and reporting.

Automate Weather Alerts to the Entire Network
A sensible preparedness plan for utilities should include a tool for communicating federal weather alerts such as IPAWS and NWS/NOAA. Planned correctly, these alerts can automatically trigger advanced warnings, storm updates, and other critical information to crews that will ultimately be responsible for first response. Regroup’s platform integrates with these services, making them easily implemented for the entire network of utility workers.

This allows utilities to anticipate potential hazards and damage and to keep field crews up-to-date on changing weather conditions that could create dangerous work conditions.

Assessing Storm Damage
When tropical storms, flooding, and tornadoes strike power facilities and equipment, an orderly assessment of the damage must be carried out. With power outages and cellular towers hobbled or overloaded, relying on legacy technologies to communicate can mean a slower and less accurate reporting mechanism.

Regroup overcomes these stumbling blocks by providing Mobile Apps that effectively connect and communicate despite hitches in other resources. Real-time, two-way communications can help teams more effectively report damages, request assistance, notify the appropriate parties of immediate needs and create a digital paper-trail that promotes accountability in field crews and supervisors.

Restoration of Services
Restoration of electrical services is a prioritized process, requiring a systematic and well-executed protocol. Restoring power to plants, substations, emergency services, blocks of customers and then individual customers demands a highly orchestrated effort. The multifaceted nature of these operations calls for communication methods that are reliable and versatile during changing conditions.

With a tool like Regroup, dispatchers and supervisors can harness the power of geo-fencing to address teams in specific areas. Quick Templates in Regroup’s platform can help to make the process faster and easier during these evolving events.

This can help minimize confusion and ensure a more efficient approach to service restoration.

Mitigating Economic Impact on Utilities
Over the years, the utility industry has undergone a transformation into a more competitive and market-driven space. In some states, this allows the consumer to choose their utility provider and compels companies to maintain a high level of operational efficiency.  When factors like extreme weather conditions force grids offline and unavailable, the provider’s competitive position becomes precarious.

Using mass notification to shore up workforces, transmit critical information and coordinate team operations is a vital part of maintaining operational resilience as well as a competitive edge. Keeping the entire network in the loop assists utilities providers in creating an accountable workforce, reducing redundancies and responding to outages in a more timely and efficient manner. The end result is a more satisfied customer base and a healthier bottom line.

Your Next Steps
 At Regroup, we understand the importance of smart and reliable communications for all industries. In the case of severe weather and utility providers, the significance of an efficient notification platform cannot be overstated. That’s why we developed the Regroup platform to be dependable in virtually every circumstance and in nearly every time-critical business situation. Delivering operational resilience and mitigating risk is at the heart of Regroup’s platform.

We’ve prepared a simple guide that explains how effective communications can help you maintain business continuity during disruptions like severe weather. Click here to download it.

Ready to see more? You can schedule a no-obligation demo of Regroup’s powerful notification system here.