Electric customers frustrated with too little information when outages strike will have access to more details about the causes and impending repairs through a new online map PSEG Long Island plans to launch this week.
The new system, which is based on Google Maps, replaces one that has been in use since National Grid ran the Long Island electric system over the past decade. The old system was based on Microsoft’s Bing map system.
The new system will for the first time give customers a full view of the outage restoration map from any mobile device, capability that was lacking in the previous system.
It allows customers to report and check the status of outages with a single keystroke. The system is available for desktops, laptops and tablet devices. PSEG said most customers are moving rapidly to reporting and accessing information about outages on mobile devices, including iPhones and Android devices.
The new map will go live Thursday.
It lets users zoom down into the specific location of electric problem by entering their address in a search field. They can get information about what caused an outage, such as a downed pole or wire, and what type of crew has been assigned to repair the problem.
The system shows the total number of people served in specific counties, towns, villages and hamlets, tells customers the total number of people affected in each and gives the percentage impacted in each area. Like the previous system, it will show an estimated repair time.
There’s also a new graphic that overlays a colored shadow over the physical area affected by the outage so users can see if they are part of a larger outage.
A new texting function lets users click a single “report an outage” button to send a text to PSEG’s control center.
Because it uses Google Maps, customers can view the outage map in satellite, map or hybrid view.
A pre-release version of the map on Tuesday showed 1,166 customers without power in an area that encompassed the north end of Bethpage State Park and surrounding neighborhoods. The map legend showed a crew was on site, but that the cause and estimated restoration were “updated” or “pending investigation.” The estimated restoration time also wasn’t listed.
Fred Daum, director of customer contact and billing for PSEG, said the upgrade is part of a broader initiative by the company to offer programs and services that make it easier for customers to interact with the utility. The company has upgraded its online MyAccount service, redesigned customer bills and revamped the balanced billing program over the past year, among other initiatives.