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WAPA to Implement Outage Management System / Interactive Voice Response on St. Croix

(Friday, March 06, 2015)

WAPA to Implement Outage Management System /
Interactive Voice Response on St. Croix

On Monday, March 9, 2015, the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority will implement an Outage Management System (OMS) on St. Croix. An Outage Management System gives the Authority the ability to efficiently identify and resolve outages, and to generate and report valuable historical information. OMS will assist customers with electrical outage related issues, and helps the utility inform 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 the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, which is an automated call handling system. IVR allows customers to interact with WAPA’s host system by their telephone keypad or by speech recognition, allowing them to get information on their own inquiries by following the IVR dialogue.
When a customer calls the Authority’s emergency number, the IVR system can respond with prerecorded or generated audio to further direct customers on how to proceed. WAPA's IVR system can identify a customer either by the telephone number on their account, their WAPA account number or 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.

“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 that service has been restored,” said WAPA’s Electrical Engineer LeCheea Smith.

If the IVR system is unable to identify the customer, the system will prompt the customer to leave a message. It’s important that customers 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’s customer ‘call back’ option can return calls to customers in order to verify that power has been restored. Presently, the system will only redial numbers with the 340 area code.

Anticipating the implementation of OMS/IVR, the Authority began updating the customer information database. Customers are urged to update their information by calling or visiting the customer service office, or by sending an email to customerupdate@viwapa.vi. This email address can also be found by selecting the ‘Contact Us’ tab on the Authority’s website www.viwpa.vi. The email message should contain the customer’s account number and an up-to-date telephone number. While the database is being updated, we recommend customers have their account numbers readily available when calling to report an outage, to simply the process. Account numbers can be found on the monthly bill.

The OMS/IVR system is part of the Authority’s growing Distribution Automation System. It will fully integrate with the Authority’s SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system which will immediately inform a customer 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 OMS/IVR 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.

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