TVD launches new brands and web presence.

Today it is with great pleasure that I announce one the most significant milestones in TVD’s history. The launch of two new brands and associated product sets, FreshRF, and MetTrigger.

TVD has grown through corporate acquisition, identifying market opportunities, listening to clients, and developing and enhancing our product sets. Under TVD our products were varied, covering a wide range of operational areas and industries. These include Utilities, Transport/Logistics, Government, and organisations seeking improved weather data for decision support.

Whilst they may have seemed diverse, they share a common theme and passion for Operational Intelligence and Management. We have always prided ourselves in our ability to add value by seeing through the client business issues, then pulling together often disparate operational data and technologies to improve decision making capability, drive performance, improve efficiency, and open new opportunities. Many of the resultant product sets have now matured to the point where they are best given their own air outside of the TVD brand.

Launching the product sets under new brands will enable a greater level of transparency and focus to be applied to their resourcing, market responsiveness, and growth. Resulting in an even higher level of service to the customers each serves and increased ROI for our customers.

You will see these changes reflected in updated websites and social media properties as well as new product releases over the next few months. A summary of the product sets and focus of each brand is given below and on the TVD website under partner products;

TVDwww.tvd.co.nz maintains its focus on Utility products, including Avalanche (Outage Communications) and Katana (Works, Outage and Operations Management) suites. TVD will continue to incubate new products and business concepts. We have two exciting developments; one in the IoT space which has been subject to extensive field trials, and another that leverages our extensive knowledge of telecommunications/VOIP and SS7 signalling for call routing. We expect to announce both of these products for wider client trials later in 2016.

Dashwww.dash.co.nz All our AVL and simple job dispatch offerings for transport and logistics and road users over radio and cellular continue to be offered under the Dash brand. There are exciting development plans in line with a new website and refreshed SaaS product set.

FreshRFwww.FreshRF.com one of the two new brands focused on all our 2-way radio related technologies for MPT, P25, and DMR. FreshRF is a fresh face on tried and proven technology with exciting new products including; SmartBridge Dispatcher, SmartBridge Enterprise, and SmartBridge Mobile (due out in Q3 2016).

MetTriggerwww.MetTrigger.com MetTrigger unlocks the demand for better weather observation and forecast data and allow developers, corporate clients, and consumers the opportunity to enhance their decision making, the timing of product offerings, knowledge of how to change, or improve behavior based on higher quality commercially focused weather solutions. MetTrigger brand includes all of the weather related technologies and products including our cloud based TrueWeather platform, WeatherMaster, and Weather Widgets SDK. WeatherMaster is now available on the Google Playstore under the MetTrigger brand.

This is an extremely exciting and rewarding time for TVD, our new brands and our clients. As always we welcome feedback and I hope you will take the opportunity to look at the new websites and consider the various ways the product sets can help improve your business.

Full contact details are available on our website here.

 

 

 

Avalanche Outage Oracle v8.3.1- delivering improved outage call handling

Today we released a new version of Avalanche Outage Oracle, our mass outage call handling platform that provides flexibility to manage outage calls.

Today we released a new version of Avalanche Outage Oracle, our mass outage call handling platform that provides flexibility to manage outage calls.

This multi-parallel call processing allows utilities to process callers that are experiencing a power outage in one area completely differently from callers who have a fresh outage which may not be known to the control room.

Every call can be tagged with outage status in their area and dynamically routed based on the status of outages that maybe affecting them. The routing options can include different voice menu and TXT options, and allow those callers to be fast tracked to an agent.

 

A fantastic 2015, looking forward to 2016!

Just where did 2015 go!! It’s always great, despite the hustle of Christmas to stop and reflect on the year past. What a great year we have had! Certainly there have been some fantastic opportunities come our way, and challenges! Rising to deliver against opportunities, and resolving challenges delivers a level of satisfaction and growth which sets a solid base for future expansion.

Just where did 2015 go!! It’s always great, despite the hustle of Christmas to stop and reflect on the year past. What a great year we have had! Certainly there have been some fantastic opportunities come our way, and challenges! Rising to deliver against opportunities, and resolving challenges delivers a level of satisfaction and growth which sets a solid base for future expansion.

The end of year rush before Christmas has been no different this year. With final client upgrades and migrations onto the Avalanche SaaS platform, and NT Power and Water going live with Avalanche and then within 24 hours having a lightning storm with over 900 lightning strikes!, and 4 days later a major under frequency load shed forced on them!

I love it when our systems are tested under live fire, and customers see the real benefits! I’m sure there is a case study in there next year as well!

Following a strategic review started in Q3 (its amazing the perspective watching your family play on the beach in Rarotonga delivers!) there are some very exciting times ahead for TVD in 2016. I am confident in saying that 2016 will be a landmark year in our history.

This will be reflected in a new website that is being worked on as I write this, and will be up early in the new year. There are also new product releases early in the first quarter and some exciting directions for some of our newer brands. As they say, “Stay tuned” !

From all of us at TVD, have a fantastic festive season and start to the new year. Of course we will have support staff working right through, and look forward to connecting in 2016, or before!

Andrew Thompson
CEO

Avalanche v8.0 is here!

This is a major Avalanche release and is part of the shift from Trouble Call Management, to a fully integrated Outage Communication Platform. about the changing face of Power Outage Communications here. Avalanche now includes 15 different ways customers can receive or access Outage information!

This is a major Avalanche release and is part of the shift from Trouble Call Management, to a fully integrated Outage Communication Platform. Continue reading “Avalanche v8.0 is here!”

NZ Electricity Deregulation – Commerce Commission, New Part 4 Obligations for SAIDI and SAIFI creates opportunities.

New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to engage in Electricity Deregulation. The separation of Lines and Retail (and Contracting) business’. Deregulation is never a single event, it is a complex and moving feast of political will, consumer (and Network…) outrage, consultation, regulation, cuts, changes and tweaks to business and financial models.

New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to engage in Electricity Deregulation. The separation of Lines and Retail (and Contracting) business’. Deregulation is never a single event, it is a complex and moving feast of political will, consumer (and Network…) outrage, consultation, regulation, cuts, changes and tweaks to business and financial models.

We have been intimately involved with the practical aspects of the electricity deregulation environment supporting our customers as they go through this in NZ, Australia, Canada and the USA.

As a result, embedded within products like CSC and Avalanche is functionality and in depth knowledge to support a raft of different regulatory models and related business models that each Utility elects to adopt. Meeting or exceeding the regulatory obligations and robust and justifiable operational data to support rate case demands.

Most recently we have been following the changes proposed by the NZ Commerce Commission and considering the implications on our systems to support the data capture and now quite serious disclosure obligations.

I won’t re-iterate the legal challenges to these changes, however since the August Court of Appeal decision the Commission certainly wasted no time formalising their plans for default price-performance criteria and related disclosures. The release of the Part 4 determination came down on 01 October 2012, and the substantive disclosures obligations start in March 2013.

Deregulation follows a pattern, and although NZ focussed we believe there are clear learnings from this experience for customers operating in other jurisdictions that may not be as far down the path.

Regulatory disclosure has been a factor in Utilities for years, however in our view this latest determination and particularly changes to the certifications by Directors and obligations on them and downstream systems to deliver accurate information is quite far reaching.

We expect the compliance cost of the audit function to also increase in line with the more serious certification and related penalties.

If anyone is in any doubt as to the seriousness of the obligations for directors and those responsible for collecting this data the article by Catherine Ross & Christine Southey from MinterEllison summarising the obligations, and penalties makes sobering reading.

There is a broader national theme running through this of greater corporate transparency, Director/manager accountability, and “consumer protection”. We anticipate the Commission to be rigorous in their review of the auditable data and systems used to capture that.

There will be those that take the view that the Commerce Commission will never go that far… However “Trying”, “Best Endeavours”, “I thought…..” “We were told….” are not the threshold tests. Until it is tested, we simply wont know.

In the case of Electricity networks there is a further twist in the form of the Consumer Reform bill that is currently with the Commerce select committee. It is likely that even though consumers may now be required to consider the risks of receiving supply, it will be reasonable to expect, that there will be more focus (and onus on Networks) to keep those consumers informed when supply reliability is affected.

Whilst on the face of it quite onerous, this actually presents some very real benefits and drivers to sort-out systems and underlying data. This will ensure data capture can be done; Reliably, Accurately, and in an Auditable and consistently Replicable manner for reliable year on year comparison, and greater surety of compliance. Some utilities are already doing this, and have robust underlying data, process’ and network models. Others may not.

I’ll focus on Schedule 10 in the Determination (Page 121-122) which provides the detail of what Directors must now certify in relation to network reliability and the categorisation of those statistics.

As a side note, it will be interesting to see what view is taken on re-categorisation of planned and unplanned work based around minimum 24 hour customer notification obligations. Where rescheduling planned work may trigger the obligation to either re-notify, or re-categorise the outage.

For Schedule 10, there are two key elements;

1. Accurate network connectivity between meter- transformer- switches, all the way to GXP, and;

2. Accurate capture of the times events occurred (as the customer saw it and the vent actually happened) e.g. Switch Open/Close.

After all if your connectivity is not accurate, and you aren’t capturing the time of actions accurately, SAIDI and SAIFI are unlikely to be accurate, and will vary between reporting periods.

Electricity networks are technical environments. As engineers we like order. We like things to add up. We don’t like waffly statements about binary situations, fortunately, neither does the Commission, and “about right” is not the test they are applying.

So there is a silver lining to this latest determination. We think there is considerable opportunity for Networks to actually embrace this determination and further demonstrate their engineering capabilities to create well engineered, robust data, and sound process and practice which can automate the capture of this data, whilst also supporting the expectations of their stakeholders and simplifying compliance.

Andrew Thompson

www.tvdinc.com

Outage Communication – Happier customers, Happier control room, Lower costs.

Utilities, large and small, are looking for better ways to deliver Outage Information, improve customer satisfaction, allow Control Room operators to focus on actually getting the power back on, all without creating a communications behemoth. Adopting a Multi-Channel Outage Communication Management plan can achieve all that, and significantly reduce costs.

Utilities, large and small, are looking for better ways to deliver Outage Information, improve customer satisfaction, allow Control Room operators to focus on actually getting the power back on, all without creating a communications behemoth. Adopting a Multi-Channel Outage Communication Management plan can achieve all that, and significantly reduce costs.

As we are in the final stages of preparing Avalanche v8.0 for release I pondered on how the core Outage Communication requirement had changed little, but the consumer landscape for getting that power outage information has altered dramatically. A case of “Same, Same, but different”.

At TVD we have been creating Operations Management solutions for Utilities all over the world for almost 15 years. When we created Avalanche, deregulation, disaggregation, and retail contestability, were mutterings in the backroom of government, Windows for Workgroups was hot, fax machines were expensive and used thermal roll paper, decadic phones were prevalent, Cellular networks were sparse, and the Apple Newton was the PDA of choice. The idea that you would give your 13 year old child a cellphone and a laptop was nothing short of absurd.

Back then the only way for customers to get power outage or faults information, or report power outages was to phone their power company, and they did, in large volumes! For widespread outages sometimes people tuned to the radio (imagine that happening now…) but the primary Outage Communication channel was all Inbound to the Power company via the 800 number.

The costs have changed marginally with automation, but delivering information via an inbound phone call is still the most expensive information delivery channels a Utility can use. Depending on who you talk to fully costed call costs varying between US$3 – US$8/call.

As times moved on we added Outbound modules to help manage that “Avalanche” of calls. SCADA monitor to help get messages up faster, even a WAP site for cellphone users, FaxOut, CallOut and later email. The focus was still on managing the Inbound, augmented by some outbound communications to satisfy early adopters and more sophisticated key clients.

Times have moved on. Modern Utilities no longer think about Trouble Call Management, but rather proactively embrace Outage Communication Management. Same Message, multiple Channels.

Consumers now have hundreds of channels to get information. They have been indulged by a web 2.0 tech boom spawning thousands of start-ups scrabbling to “build user communities”, and so consumers have been indulged, indeed encouraged to avoid the traditional channels for information delivery, in favour of alternatives such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc etc.

The adoption of those information delivery channels is widespread, prevalent, and it’s now just as common for a grandparent to have an iPhone or Android device, as it is their grandchildren.

Consumers now want their information fast; when, and in a format they want; Online, Facebook, Twitter, Email, TXT, you name it.

Even with all these technology and communications changes, the customers information requirement hasn’t changed at all;

  1. Does my utility know there’s an outage?
  2. When will the power be back on?
  3. What caused it?

Customers also want to be re-assured that they can get through quickly to report a life or property issue, (or to tell you they are the one that chopped down the tree that fell the wrong way…. )

If you keep telling them to call you on your 800 number, then they probably will, reluctantly and even if the perception is wrong, with the expectation of an average or more likely, unsatisfactory experience.

The good news is that if you tell them there are alternative information channels which are simpler, faster, and in a lexicon that they understand, and that they get identical information irrespective of which channel they use, then they’ll start using those. Those same alternative channels conveniently also happen to be the lowest cost for you. So not only are you fulfilling customers’ needs, you’re saving money in the process.

Every communication channel has specific needs; Twitter is different from Email, which is different from Voice, which is different from Facebook. Message consistency and timeliness of delivery is critical. It avoids confusion; Reduced confidence in the message will likely result in even more calls from consumers wanting to phone and speak to a human about what is actually going on!

The key is; Same input Message, multiple output Channels.

Avalanche v8.0 will now support over 15 different channels for Utilities to communicate un-planned and planned outage information to their customers. The channels range from the tried and proven traditional Avalanche outage message loaded to the CO (Telco Exchange) through to Twitter, Facebook, and mobile Internet Fault Site.

With the original Avalanche Trouble Call Management system we saved customers tens of thousands of dollars, improved customer service and helped get the lights back on quicker.

Now, by opening up all the other outage communication channels for people to get the outage information, and deliver fault reports, without having to phone in, we expect to start saving many thousands of dollars on managing phone calls.

Couple all of the above with real-time SCADA integration, web/smartphone outage reporting, and you have a powerful, multi-channel, Outage Communication Management platform.

Happier customers, Happier control room, Lower costs.

Electricity Deregulation, FRC, and related operational issues

The energy sectors of Australia and New Zealand have undergone some of the most far-reaching commercial reforms of the twentieth century. The changes relating specifically to electricity deregulation have spanned more than a decade and continue to move at a great pace.

The energy sectors of Australia and New Zealand have undergone some of the most far-reaching commercial reforms of the twentieth century. The changes relating specifically to electricity deregulation have spanned more than a decade and continue to move at a great pace. In broad terms the effects of these changes have been:

  • A highly competitive energy sector principally for commercial and industrial customers but now advancing to include residential consumers;
  • The break-up of large vertically integrated government electricity organisations into multiple competing companies under separate management and requiring a commercial return;
  • The completely separate ownership and operation of energy trading (retailing), distribution network (wires), transmission and generation businesses resulting in the need to make each facet of energy delivery economically viable as a stand alone enterprise;
  • The establishment of a wholesale electricity trading market;
  • Provisions for generation companies to sell directly to consumers; and
  • Light-handed regulations based on the achievement of the Government’s reform objectives.

These reforms require the management of electricity companies to pay much greater attention to:

  • Significant value-added customer service and marketing initiatives;
  • Understanding asset and works management, asset life cycle planning, reliability and opportunity based maintenance to obtain efficiencies, reduce costs and maintain returns on investment in a fully competitive arena;
  • Outsourcing of non core business functions and services;
  • Developing complex energy tariff structures incorporating ½ hourly tariffs provided 365 days/year; and
  • Real-time integration of information and work flow from previously disparate systems such as CIS, GIS, SCADA, outage management, asset management and network planning.

TVD’s products have been developed in response to this environment and therefore embody the business processes which have been developed, refined and proven for deregulated utilities. One of the primary advantages of TVD’s products and services is to provide both competitive advantage and resolving business issues resulting from deregulatory pressures as they arise. In many cases these issues only become apparent at certain points in the deregulation cycle.