status.[utility].co.tt

Recently, there was thunder and lightning and heavy rainfall in Trinidad. Trees fell, and there was a range of property damage.

In cases like this, the aftermath can involve service outages across a number of service providers. For me, it was power. There was a bright spark, a loud bang and then silence.

Right after the first jumble of thoughts, I remembered you can call the power company to find out about outages. In this case, it was 800-BULB. The operator was prompt, he helpfully indicated that it was “a big problem that will take a long time to fix”.

When we awoke hours later, there was still no power, but added to that, I could not reach the power company on the phone. Either a lot of ringing or busy signals. And it made me think, calling to find out about the status of service is an approach we should retire.

From a cloud perspective, we can readily find out if a given provider is up or down by checking one of their status pages. Both Azure and GitHub comes to mind.

If we had access to the numbers, I expect the power company’s lines didn’t stop ringing until the day after the event. How did they handle the increased load and calls? That could have been lessened if there was an automated way their customers could get answers. Both at the phone level, and on the web.

I expect that some of the more advanced utility companies here in Trinidad already have internal systems that can readily provide this information, it’s therefore a matter of going the last mile and making it accessible to the public.

Of course, if utilities use a standard mechanism for reporting, then what can then happen is the status of a number of public utilities can be known to the nation, without having to make any calls.

What a day that would be.

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