Today, when the power went out at work, the first thing I did (after getting my laptop tethered to my phone) was to go to the BC Hydro Power Outages page, then check the list of outages and finally, double-checked the map to see if that was the correct area. As I clicked on the map, I noticed that each outage has a unique ID (quite sensibly). I then noticed that there was a mobile site. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work on the iPhone, because it’s a super-old-school WAP deck.
But! Here’s my suggestion. Given that there’s a unique ID per outage, why not let me “sign up” to receive updates? everytime an engineer updates the status of the outage, there could be a system in place to deliver that update to me automatically. Ideally, I’d be able to choose any number of ways of getting updated: Email, SMS, Facebook, Twitter, whatever, but the most simple to implement would probably be email updates.
That way, I wouldn’t have to constantly check the site, or worse yet for BC Hydro, call them, and everyone would be happier because they can passively receive information rather than having to actively hunt it out.
Beyond this manual per-outage-sign up idea, the next step would be for me to be able to create an account at BC Hydro and input one or more addresses that I would like to “watch” for power-service updates. For instance, I’d like to know about power issues at my house & at my office.
I don’t know if this power outage/service data is “public”. If so, this seems to be another great open data hack for some determined person to build out. If anyone from BC Hydro IT sees this, I’d certainly love to talk with you about trying to build this out – I can’t (at a quick glance) find a way to get this information easily off-site for use by a “power-watcher” app.