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WAPA to Implement IVR/OMS

(Thursday, March 06, 2014)

The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority is implementing an Outage Management System (OMS) which will assist customers with electrical outage related issues.  An Outage Management System gives the Authority the ability to efficiently identify and resolve outages, and to generate and report valuable historical information. It also helps the utility inform its customers of the outage situation and restoration status (rather than the customer informing the utility first).  An OMS typically works in conjunction with the geographic information system (GIS) and the utility’s customer information system (CIS). 

Another key component of the OMS is Interactive Voice Response (IVR) which is an automated call handling system.  IVR allows customers to interact with WAPA’S host system via their telephone keypad or by speech recognition, allowing them to get information based on their own inquiries by following the IVR dialogue.  

“The benefits of the IVR system include efficient outage call handling, improved outage notifications for planned and unplanned outages, up-to-date information on the status of an outage and customer call-back to verify service has been restored,” said WAPA Engineer and project manager LeCheea Smith.  Smith and the engineers in the Authority’s Systems Planning unit are eager to have this project completed in order to realize the full benefits of the system.

 Smith explained that with the IVR system, when a customer calls the Authority’s emergency number, the system can respond with prerecorded or generated audio to further direct customers on how to proceed.  WAPA'S IVR can identify a customer by the telephone number that is on the account, their WAPA account number and their meter number. If the customer has multiple locations associated with one account, the system will list the locations and ask the customer to identify which location has the outage.

 If the IVR system is unable to identify the customer, the customer will be prompted to leave a message. Customers should speak clearly and give as much information as possible about their location to make it easier for dispatcher identification. When the caller has completed the message, it will be immediately retrieved by a dispatcher.

 The IVR also has a customer call back option. With this option, the system will call the customer back to verify that power has been restored. Presently, the system will only redial numbers with a 340 area code.

 To ensure that all WAPA customers can experience the benefits of this system, the Authority has started a campaign to update the customer information database. Customers are encouraged to update their information in the system as soon as possible. This can be done by calling or visiting any of the Authority’s customer service offices. Customers can also send an email to customerupdate@viwapa.vi or click on the ‘Contact Us’ tab on the Authority’s website www.viwpa.vi and scroll to the header “To Update Customer Information.” The message should contain the customer’s account number and an up-to-date telephone number. While the database is being updated, we recommend that customers have their account numbers readily available when calling to report an outage to simplify the process. This number can be found on the monthly bill.

 The IVR/OMS system is part of the Authority’s growing Distribution Automation System. It will be fully integrated with the Authority’s SCADA system which will immediately let a customer know that they are being affected by a feeder wide outage. When the Authority’s Automated Metering Infrastructure/Automated Meter Reading (AMI/AMR) system is fully deployed, the IVR/OMS system will alert dispatchers in a matter of seconds that a customer’s service is interrupted, without the need for a call from the customer.

 To learn more about WAPA’s initiatives visit viwapa.vi.

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