With winter beckoning in the Northern Hemisphere the risk of utilities failing due to inclement weather increases. Oracle has released Oracle Utilities Operations Mobile Application to help utility companies restore service faster to their customers. The new application forms part of the Oracle Utilities Network Management System and will provide mobile workers with an application that will help them analyse and respond to incidents in the field
The new application forms part of the wider Oracle complete suite of grid solutions that includes:
- Oracle Utilities Network Management System
- Oracle Utilities Operations Mobile Application
- Oracle Utilities Distributed Energy Resource Management Solution
- Oracle Utilities Outage Analytics
- Oracle DataRaker
- Oracle Utilities Smart Grid Gateway
- Oracle Utilities Customer Self Service
- Oracle Utilities Operational Device Management
The application be installed by remote field workers whether they are direct employees, contractors, mutual aid and loaned crews with a mobile device. The application will provide the field worker with access to grid workflow, forms and other information tools. These tools allow field workers to provide real time status updates so that customers can be informed faster and removes some of the pockets of time that would previous have been wasted as they awaited information updates. There is also additional capability around reporting to dispatch and back-office systems on non-outage, unplanned events.
With simple forms that allow updates to flow from the point of the incident, a better picture of incidents can be viewed by controllers, improving response and restoration times to the ultimate benefit of the customer. While the press release didn’t reveal which devices are supported, it states “the most common mobile devices they might bring into the field” will be supported.
Rodger Smith, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Utilities commenting in the press release stated: “During weather-related outages—which cause significant and complex operational challenges—many utilities need a way to improve the speed with which they can assess damage and restore service to their customers.
“Oracle Utilities Operations Mobile Application provides utilities with improved flow of information from the field to dispatch and the control center as they can send and share information directly from a mobile device—increasing the speed and accuracy of status updates to customers.”
While there is no mention of any information flowing through to customer facing portals, one would hope that this might be the next iteration. Although much of the information available on this mobile application will only be relevant to the field crews working on any issues, one wonders whether a cut down version of the software might be available for key customers and partners, to assess whether an emergency plans need to be invoked in the case of a serious incident.
Oracle are clearly aiming this application to enhance their mobile solution to reduce the revenue share achieved by applications such as ClickSoftware and Kony who deliver mobile workforce management applications aimed at the utility companies. Companies will need to make their own decision whether that is the case.
While this may not be largest improvement that Oracle makes to its Utility software platform, for those companies that have not invested in mobile applications it could make a significant difference to the effectiveness and efficiency of their field workers. This improvement will naturally cascade down to benefit customers and will also help to improve relationships with regulators as efficiency targets are achieved.