With storms predicted for the Fourth of July holiday, you may look warily at your lights when you hear thunder or see a flash of lightning. Power outages are simply a fact of life, but the Georgia Power Company has something new to offer. It won't prevent outages, but it can help you answer the question, “When will the lights come back on?”
In the Atlanta area, answering that question has always meant calling Georgia Power’s emergency phone number (888-891-0938) and reporting an outage or hearing a computer voice announce when repairs should be completed in your area.
But last week, the Georgia Power Company officially introduced their new interactive outage map (http://outagemap.georgiapower.com). The map, which Georgia Power says has actually been online for about a month, provides detailed information about power outages throughout the Georgia Power service area statewide. It is designed for use with both regular Web browsers and smartphones as well.
Leslie Silbert, Georgia Power’s vice president of distribution, admits that despite the company’s efforts to provide reliable power, "outages do still occur and it's our goal to restore service to all customers as soon as we can." By making accurate information about outages available to their customers, Silbert continues, the outage map “empowers them to make informed, timely decisions for their business or family."
The outage map shows some of the information Georgia Power has about localized power outages:
- The cause of the outage
- The extent of the outage (shown as an overlay on an online map, much as weather web sites overlay radar information on an online map)
- The number of people affected by the outage
- The estimated time when service will be restored
You can zoom in and out, move around the map, search by county or ZIP code, and get weather information as well. The online map is automatically refreshed every ten minutes.
With the outage map, it is possible to get highly detailed information on power outages almost everywhere in Georgia. This level of transparency into Georgia Power’s operations is unprecedented. For the first time it will be possible to know detailed information about each individual outage incident.
During a storm, it will also give you a new appreciation of how much work Georgia Power has to do to get everyone’s lights back on.
The new outage map is accessible using a standard Web browser from a laptop or desktop computer. It’s also available on the iPhone, Android phones, Windows phones, or any other web-capable smartphone. No special app is required.
The mobile phone access will likely prove to be particularly useful because cellular networks usually keep working through outages, storms, and . With your mobile phone, you will be able to check the outage map even when your power at home or at work is out.
You can also follow Georgia Power’s Twitter account (@GeorgiaPower) for updates. Georgia Power does lots of tweeting during storms, providing updates and specific information about problems and repair work underway. In fact, you can use Twitter to ask questions and to inform Georgia Power of outages or dangerous situations such as downed wires.
It is safe to say that none of this new technology has dislodged the old technology for reporting power outages. Georgia Power still has -- and probably will always have -- its emergency number for customers: 888-891-0938.