Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM) has launched a new pilot initiative called Fault Management System (FMS), through which it aims to alert customers about power cuts in advance through SMS, reports The Times Of India. The report states that the system is being tested since last month and the organization plans to extend the initiative to e-mail and Facebook in the future.
At the time of writing this article, the FMS website suggests that it will continue in pilot mode until June 30, 2013. One can subscribe to the SMS alerts by heading over to the ‘Customer Subscription’ section on site, filling out a form with requisite details like Name, Mobile Number, Email address and address and RR (Revenue Register) Number and choosing their station and the feeder they are subscribed to. The site also provides an Excel file as a download with all the station and feeder details, in case the user is not familiar as to which station and feeder they belong to.
BESCOM says that it will be providing subscribers with information regarding the power interruption, reason for the interruption and restoration details through this initiative.
Control Room: Besides this, we also noticed that the site seems to already offer both unscheduled and scheduled power interruption and restoration information through a section called ‘Control Room‘. The listings provide information like outage category, interruption time, expected restoration time, status of the interruption and reasons for the interruption among others. One can filter these listings based on the zone, circle, division and sub-division to view listings of any specific location and the listings are also color coded to indicate the status of the problem (Red for interruption details, Yellow for work in progress and Green for Restoration details).
Facebook Integration: What’s particularly interesting is that BESCOM seems to have created a Facebook page for each sub station and listed it on their website, in a bid to provide Facebook users updates on all the activities related to that specific substation. We find this approach to be quite interesting rather than having a single Facebook page which provides this information, since the nature of the information is very hyperlocal and users will be concerned about the information that affects their location only.
While a majority of the Facebook pages don’t work or are dormant at the time of writing this article, we noticed that that most of the pages seems to have been created in the last month or the month before. We hope that the pages don’t remain dormant few months down the line. While setting up a social media presence is relatively easy, it is quite a challenge to constantly engage the users with new content on these accounts. Hence, we are a bit curious to see how BESCOM will tackle this challenge.
Mapping Substations: Another interesting project we spotted on the FMS website was that, BESCOM seems to have partnered with a spatial data company Thematics Infotech which offers various GIS solutions to government, private and research institutions, to map out all its substations on a Google Maps interface. One can search for their preferred sub-station or manually zoom in to their preferred location and click on the map to find out contact information of personnel in-charge of that specific location. However, we are not sure if this initiative is new or it was available earlier.
Our Take: While we appreciate BESCOM’s approach, we hope that this doesn’t become yet another pilot project which dies after a few months. We would also like to see this service being replicated across the country, since this information can be quite handy to everyone and people can plan their schedules better if they are aware of the upcoming power fluctuations.
On a separate note, why doesn’t BESCOM open up this this digitized data to public (probably through Data.gov.in)? Providing access to this data will give an opportunity for users to consume, repurpose and analyse data and pave the way for developers to create data specific applications like Powercuts.in and journalists to use this data in their news reports to highlight facts related to the power cut situation in the state.