Many utilities are moving away from paper service orders and equipping their field service technicians with electronic devices. Is your utility one of them?
The primary motivation for automating field workers is the ability to transmit service orders electronically.
Electronic delivery of service orders expedites the process of getting information to the field, saving travel time to and from the office to pick up new service orders.
For more urgent service orders, electronic transmission eliminates the need to call the service technician and risking a garbled radio transmission or poor cell service. This enables your organization to improve customer service by providing accurate information to your field force in a more timely fashion.
An additional benefit of automating field service technicians is access to information. With the right technology in place, your field staff can access GIS maps or relevant information from your billing system.
For example, imagine one of your field service technicians being dispatched to re-read a meter due to a high bill complaint. The angry customer meets your service person at the meter, ranting and raving about his bill.
How disarming would it be for your field service technician to be able to show the customer a graph of their usage history to explain that this is their normal usage pattern?
Have you embraced technology for your field service technicians? If you have, what technology platform do you use?
If you don’t mind, please take a moment and complete this poll about what types of devices your field service technicians use.
If you’ve got questions about automating your field force, feel free to give me a call at 919-232-2320 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Smartphones with GPS capability and online mapping applications have made finding addresses an easy task. Does your utility take advantage of any of the many electronic mapping applications that are available?
Geographic information systems
Many utilities have implemented Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to replace their reliance on paper maps. In addition to creating digital images of paper maps, GIS maps include attributes of each mapping layer.
These attributes can include such things as water line size, pipe material and year installed. Or for a valve, the attributes might include manufacturer, model, year purchased and direction the valve opens.
Online mapping applications
Even if your utility hasn’t implemented a Geographic Information System, several online options exist for locating an address.
Google Maps, Mapquest and Bing Maps all will display a map of an address, using nothing more than the address itself. They also will provide turn-by-turn driving directions to the address.
Some utility billing systems have integrated mapping within their billing software. Logics’ Utility Management system is one such application.
Below is a screen shot of the Mapping tab from the Account Console of Logics’ Utility Management system. Clicking on the image will open a larger image in a new window.
As you can see, the system displays a map with a push pin at the exact service address.
Meters are often the last layer added to a GIS system, and they represent the point at which billing software and GIS systems intersect. For a utility with a GIS system mapped all the way to the meter level, the above map could be replaced by their GIS map.
Interested in integrating maps with your billing system?
If you are interested in learning more about integrating maps, either Google maps or your GIS system, with your billing system, please give me a call at 919-232-2320 or e-mail me at email@example.com.
I am the Senior Consultant with Edmunds GovTech | Logics in Raleigh, North Carolina. I have over 35 years experience developing and implementing utility billing and financial software and consulting with utilities and municipalities. My bi-weekly email newsletter draws from my experience in working with over 200 utilities and local governments to offer insight into how utilities can improve operations and better serve their customers. If you have a comment or a suggestion for a future email, please contact me by calling 919-673-4050 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org