Does your Outage App have to be an App?

I get asked a bit, (usually by people who “want” to build an app), why we don’t make some of our applications like Outage Reporter and IFS “apps” for iOS and Android.

Well they are… you just don’t have to download and install them. It’s a mobile optimised web application.

Power Outages are different from day-day activities where you might have an app you use regularly for tasks such as banking, news, maps, social media or email. You have it handy, you know how to drive it from plenty of use.

Services you don’t use often, such as checking details about a power outage, have a quite different overall use case. They demand different usability as well as functionality.

We develop Android and iOS apps, and for certain functions they are perfect. For power outages we have an intrinsic understanding of how people (consumers) operate and what they like and don’t, so here’s some thoughts on why having a downloadable app may not be the best option for your customers.

Is it Quick to access the outage information, how they want? (not how you want them to…)

  • It has to be quick – Consumers have no idea when the power will go off, and so won’t be able to plan ahead as to when they would need the app (and so download it ahead of time). They certainly won’t have a 16 digit alpha-numeric meter or account number at hand.
  • It has to be quick – Most consumers experience power outages very infrequently, meaning they just don’t use the app regularly.
  • It has to be quick – The last thing they will want to do is have to download an app, particularly as their Wi-Fi probably isn’t working so they’ll have to enable app downloads over cellular.
  • It has to be quick – App developers are notoriously good (bad..?) at adding functionality that cumulatively makes a simple requirement, harder. Consumers don’t want to have to learn something new, particularly while the lights are out.

Is it Easy to get the outage information and what they actually want? (not what you want to supply…)

  • It has to be easy – Consumers already have dozens of apps they have to remember how to use, log into etc. hunting around for that app (what’s it called.. what does the icon look like…)
  • It has to be easy – Having yet another one they use extremely infrequently is a hindrance to improved customer service.
  • It has to be easy – Most people won’t have a shortcut on their home screen, and so will have to hunt for it anyway, or may not even remember that they have installed it!
  • It has to be easy – Utilities love maps. They like showing things on maps and providing the whole picture. Zoomable, draggable with lots of detail, that only they really care about…. Consumers don’t care what’s happening outside their suburb, or even house!. They want information focussed on them, not how many other outages a utility is dealing with or if they are gas or water or electricity.

Over the past 1-2 years web apps have become more powerful, with a greater level of functionality and real-time feedback. You are now able to do things in a web app which could previously only be done in a downloadable app.

Quick! and Easy! – Consumers can click on a link contained within a TXT message or email, or on your website, and hey presto, there is a fully branded app from your utility that allows them to quickly do exactly what they had in mind when they clicked the “report a power outage” or “View Outage details” button.

  • Cost – For the Utility deploying and maintaining a fully functional web app is significantly more cost effective, than managing apps that have to work on different operating systems, different versions of those, and different phones/phablets/tablets.

So before you get cornered into building an app and have to manage that across platforms and OS versions, just ask: “Why do our customers need another app for outages”?

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; 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. 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. 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). 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.