Normally when customers experience loss of power, the utility does not know about it until customers call the utility to report the problem. With the advent of social media such as Twitter, Facebook and others, there is another way - if customers tweet to a friend "hey, I just lost power" or "looks like the entire neighbourhood is without power" these tweets can be detected and the utility notified virtually instantly when an outage occurs including location and extent.
UtiliSocial is a cloud-based system from DataCapable that mines social media and then generates map visualizations using a GIS. UtiliSocial combs social media channels for specific terms and topics related to power utilities, such as power outages, smart grid, and renewables. When someone communicates via social media about any of these topics, utility staff get real time notifications including the location of the tweets. The data is presented on a mapping dashboard, showing the time and location of the each tweet found. UtiliSocial can also display context - maps of demographics, consumer behavior statistics, weather patterns and sensor reports. Data Capable has been providing this service to utility customers such as Seattle City Light.
And now DataCapable provides a service that shows outages worldwide. It provides utility customers with a real-time layer of global power outages including all outage events over the past three hours (which is configurable).