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Smart Grid vs. Hurricane Sandy: It's Not a Fair Fight

By Carl Ford October 31, 2012

I am writing this with very little battery left, and clearly, I have to hope that Panera is open so I can ship this off to our office. (My MiFi has not been working well.)

The Internet is such an amazing distributed solution, and yet it comes down to access and power. Clearly, power is the number one problem right now, yet here they go hand-in-hand.

In New Jersey, where I am this week, Hurricane Sandy has hit the networks hard. Wireless has been taxed, but power has been strewn; the sub stations have been flooded and the fallen trees are everywhere. Often I am shocked as to how shallow the root systems are on many of the old growths.

However, I have yet to see any of the solar panels destroyed, and since they are connected to the local power company with wireless, I was hoping they could give a better picture of what is going on in the network.

Clearly, if the smart grid is being deployed, it’s criteria for information is lacking. One radio announcer pointed out that people forget to call the power company to tell them they are not connected because they think the power company knows; however the smart grid is not deployed and the power companies’ network management system is not much better than the cable operators in the 1980’s.

The cable operators had a rule not to dispatch on any major trouble for four hours, as that’s when they were sure the nearest point had called in for repair; clearly they have a long way to go.

And for the second time, the reporting of the aftermath is horrible. 

The company has spokespeople designed for mass communications, and the website is useless. My township communicates the press releases from the power company, which does nothing to tell me when the power will be back. 

It’s a pretty simple strategy here folks. Let me give you some ideas.

1.        Go ask Jeff Cohn to convert DeadCellZones.com to NoPower.com and make it so that he has a remove when you get the work done.

2.       Start giving geographic coverage reports. You have communicated that you have doubled your workforce and yet most of us have yet to see a truck. It’s okay if you prioritize for where the greatest good is, but show it to us.

3.       Some videos of what to do when a tree falls on your house would be nice. Particularly the distinctions about how cutting the tree can cause further damage.

4.       How about a YELP for who is open. Never mind reviewing what they have, but how about what they have like “Ice” and essentials.

In this age of Web development, much of what I am talking about here can be done in a matter of 12 weeks for about 500K. 

A smart grid for your consumers is as valuable as the one for your employees.




Edited by Allison Boccamazzo

Partner, Crossfire Media

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