Technology trends in outage communications place humans at the center of increasing automation

By Russ Henderson, Senior Research Manager –

What will the utility business look like once they can send swarms of AI-piloted drones to assess damage and use chatbots to staff customer communication channels?

Outage communications is uniquely positioned within the utility organization, straddling both traditional grid operations and customer service. For this reason, as the utility industry ponders its own future, the specter of full automation looms particularly large over outage communications.

However, rather than strip all human involvement from the restoration and communication process, current trends place customers and employees at the center of developments in outage communications.

Outage management systems (OMS), formerly oriented toward power restoration, are now also being thought of as a tool to communicate with customers and employees.

Mobile and online channels are being used to draw both customers and utility employees more tightly into the restoration and communication process. Operators at Oncor now can use customer-provided photos to perform triage and assess damage prior to dispatching resources. Customers at ComEd can resolve outages using channels that can ping their meter in real time.

Many utility crews have mobile technology in hand that more fluidly integrates customer communication into the restoration workflow. Drones, a powerful tool for damage assessment, are also being leveraged to dramatically augment customer communication.

To learn more about these trends, download Chartwell’s new report on Field Technology and OMS Trends (member login required).

More importantly, you should register for Chartwell’s 13th annual Outage Communications Conference, the best resource for outage communications best practices and networking. Registrations so far have us on track to break all past attendance records.

A quick glance at this year’s fast-developing agenda will show why.

We have the best content the industry has to offer, including presentations from leaders like ComEd, SCE, Oncor, FPL, Duke, Entergy, Hydro Ottawa and more.

If you have questions about conference content, or about the report referenced above, contact me at If you have questions about attending the outage conference, contact Chartwell’s Customer Engagement Manager Ruchi Solanki at

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