Articles under Milsoft News and Events
As Hurricane Florence approaches the East coast, Milsoft support is on call!
At the present time, Milsoft IVR and OMS support teams are in storm mode and ready to help our utilities that will be impacted by Hurricane Florence!
Stay safe, and Milsoft is ready to help!
Make it easy for your customers to access user-friendly automated customer service 24/7/365 when a live operator is not practical. Join the growing number of public power utilities turning to the hosted interactive voice response (IVR) system from Milsoft Utility Solutions.
In partnership with Hometown Connections, Milsoft provides the most powerful engineering, operations, and customer service software with the best technical support in public power.
Hosted IVR Solution
Deploy the Milsoft hosted IVR solution to eliminate busy signals, answer customer questions, assemble crews after hours, or alert customers of system status automatically. The benefits of the Milsoft hosted IVR communications system include:
- Customers may access billing and service scheduling options through an intuitive and personal interface.
- Telephone, email and text message options allow you to interact with your user base at any time using their preferred communications channels.
- Customers can report outages and receive outage updates while keeping staff resources free to focus on restoring power quickly.
- You can empower customers with add-on services such as bill payment and account inquiries.
- Learn more by watching this Milsoft IVR video.
- The Milsoft hosted solution provides all the benefits of IVR in a way that makes it practical for even the smallest public power system.
- It is simpler and less expensive to deploy and maintain than on-site facilities.
- You have more flexibility, capabilities, and availability while avoiding capital investment, equipment maintenance and upgrades, and staffing.
- The call volume your utility can handle increases.
- Equipped with the latest Storage Area Networks and cloud technologies, Milsoft can host your IVR in state-of-the-art facilities so secure and well regarded that the FBI is a client.
- Highly regarded for a long and successful track record of service to public power, Milsoft offers one solution for all of your customer interaction needs.
New Braunfels Utilities Thinks Out of the Box When Deploying Milsoft GIS/OMS/IVR
After about six years as a manager in the water and wastewater division for New Braunfels Utilities (NBU) in Texas, Trino Pedraza took the position of Systems Control Manager and brought his enthusiasm for thinking creatively about technology to his new Division. At the time of Pedraza’s transfer in 2015, NBU had in place a preliminary technology roadmap for the future and a goal to converge the IT and OT functions. Pedraza garnered the financial and personnel resources to expand this technology vision and integrate all of the utility information systems to improve operations and customer services.
NBU delivers electric, water, and wastewater services to about 35,000 customers. The NBU leadership empowered Pedraza to improve the operations of the dispatch system and invest in advanced metering infrastructure, meter data management, outage management, interactive voice response, and a geographic information system covering all utility services. To begin this effort, he traveled to other utilities to investigate the ways in which they are using new technologies. Pedraza was particularly impressed by the Milsoft OMS/IVR deployment at Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative.
“NBU had purchased the Milsoft system back in 2006 but was not using all of its features and benefits,” Pedraza said. “At Bluebonnet, I saw the Milsoft system in action and returned determined to unlock its efficiencies and improvements for NBU staff and customers.”
In partnership with Hometown Connections, the utility services subsidiary of the American Public Power Association, Milsoft Utility Solutions provides public power utilities with powerful engineering, operations, and customer service software. Milsoft’s OMS/GIS/IVR and engineering analysis products maximize the utility’s ability to give employees and customers fast and accurate information. Milsoft has long been renowned for the superior performance of its maintenance and technical support team.
Prior to the deployment of the Milsoft system, line crews at NBU spent a lot of time trying to find the specific location of a service call or outage.
“The lack of good GIS information was the root of the problem,” Pedraza said. “As soon as we fired up the Milsoft system, we achieved what I call an early victory. Our crews got excited about the location improvements. They volunteered to sit with our team in the Control Center to fill in data about our service territory on the Milsoft mapping solution.”
As part of its Milsoft deployment, NBU is using the IVR platform for a Texting Outage Notification System. This new service is an added convenience for NBU electric customers to help make reporting outages and receiving notifications or updates about outages much easier. All customers with valid cell phone numbers in the utility database are automatically entered into the text notification system, with the ability to opt out upon request.
Customers enrolled in the program can text NBU and receive automated text notifications from NBU regarding outages.
Reporting an Outage
- In the event of an outage, NBU electric customers enrolled in the Texting Outage Notification program are able to report an outage by text.
Checking the Status of an Outage
- Once an outage is occurring at the customer’s location, they are able to text#Status to check on the status of an outage, and NBU’s notification system will then respond with the current status of the outage at the customer’s location.
NBU Notifies Customers of Outages
- NBU is able to notify the customer that there is an existing outage at their location if it has been reported by another customer. In the event of an outage detected at a location, NBU will text the customer to notify them.
Notification of Restored Services
- Whether the customer reported the outage or received notification of the outage from NBU, the customer will receive a final text when the outage has been restored.
In addition, NBU uses the Milsoft IVR system to send text messages or calls to customers with delinquent payment/service disconnect notices. According to Trino Pedraza, very few NBU customers have opted out of the notification system.
Customers may go online to see the Electric Outage Viewer, which displays the NBU system map with outage information.
Recently, NBU switched from the Milsoft IVR system that is installed on-site at the utility to Milsoft’s Hosted IVR solution. By moving to this cloud-based IVR system, NBU is no longer limited by the number of phone lines in the system. Because the hosted IVR allocates phone capacity on demand as needed, busy signals are a problem of the past.
“Everyone today is talking about the ‘Internet of Things,’ Pedraza noted. “But I prefer to talk about the ‘Integration of Everything.’ Our integrated information systems enable my team to think outside of the box, finding creative ways to serve our customers. For example, our MDM collects information on water usage as well as electricity. If the system detects higher than normal water usage, we can send a text message to a customer to warn them of a possible water leak.”
Pedraza added, “Our staff wakes up each day excited to go to work, enjoying the freedom to find new ways to use the Milsoft software. The Milsoft staff has been attentive to our needs and readily available for tech support. They share our enthusiasm for developing new applications and finding new ways to better serve our community.”
For more information:
New Braunfels Utilities
ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) today announced a collaboration between N-Dimension Solutions, Inc., Milsoft Utility Solutions, and NRTC to develop “REACT”, a tool to rapidly detect cyberattacks and compromised utility systems.
REACT will advance the technologies of Essence, a prototype cybersecurity technology, with the Team’s existing commercial technologies in order to dramatically reduce the time it takes to detect a cybersecurity breach. REACT has the potential to benefit more than 3,000 utilities across the country.
“We are excited to work with NRECA and the rest of the REACT team to take our existing cybersecurity technology, enhance it, and create the next generation of cybersecurity solutions for utilities,” said Tom Ayers, President and CEO of N-Dimension.
Steve Collier, Director of Smart Grid Strategies at Milsoft agreed. “This is an unprecedented project that will enable our customers to benefit from enhanced cybersecurity”.
As Doug Lambert, NRTC’s Director of Technical Solutions, explained, “This technology is cutting-edge. REACT will be faster and more responsive than any other product out in the market today.”
REACT is funded by a competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. The program is managed by NRECA’s Business and Technology Strategies (BTS) unit. BTS provides guidance to electric cooperatives to help them make sound decisions, embrace opportunities, solve industry challenges, and continue to provide affordable and reliable electrical power.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.
ABILENE, Texas – September 14, 2016 — On July 8th of 2016, the Federal Communications Commission made a Declaratory Ruling on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act in a manner that favored Electric Utilities in regards to how they communicate with their customers. The ruling essentially concludes that clients who provide their contact numbers to the utility, by default, have provided consent to be sent both emergency and non-emergency information relating to their utility. Customers that explicitly communicate their objection to getting non-emergency information while signing up for services are exempt. Before this ruling, it was unclear if only emergency related information was permissible to send to customers that had not provided consent to the utility to use their contact numbers. The TCPA changes open the door for utilities wishing to share more service information with their customers. These notifications should be related to services. For example, service outages or interruptions, meter work, vegetation management, eligibility for low-cost services, and missed payment(s) that could result in electric power cut off.
The ruling now provides significant protections from customers that have brought legal actions against utilities for use of their contact numbers for “non” emergency communications. The ruling has now clarified that while there is no “standard” established by the FCC for getting permissions from customers to be sent non-emergency information, the mere act of providing a contact number to the utility meets the bare minimum requirement of having provided consent. Mark Nielsen, Executive Chairman, TextPower Inc, says “this is an important and very positive development for utilities. The ability to now be absolutely confident that you can send text alerts without having to get customers or members to first “opt-in” massively increases the value of these alerts, especially in the case of widespread storms and outages where reaching as many as possible in the shortest period is critical.”
Milsoft’s position on this sensitive issue is that we still encourage the solicitation of consent for receiving non-emergency utility information related to their services. The FCC also recommends the practice of obtaining explicit consent from customers. However, the legal position technically no longer requires such approval. Milsoft believes that getting critical service information to your client base is a proven sure method of increasing customer service satisfaction and also aids in the effort to restore lost power by keeping your resources focused on power restoration. Moreover, the prolific use of smartphones has significantly reshaped the landscape of personal communications. We feel that all information about utility services are not only welcome, they are expected. We welcome the changes to the TCPA as it helps utilities better serve their customer base while protecting them from the very few that would perceive updates as unsolicited and illegal.
If you have any questions regarding the FCC ruling and how it affects your utility, please contact us at your convenience. You can also download your copy below or view a short video on the subject by Milsoft’s texting partner, TextPower Inc.
To download a copy of the FCC ruling, click here..
To view a video by TextPower on the FCC ruling, click here.
About Milsoft Utility Solutions
The Milsoft team has provided industry leading engineering and operations (E&O) software and much acclaimed customer service and support to electric utilities and related organizations in the US and abroad for more than 25 years. More than 1,000 utilities, consultants, universities, research labs and others use Milsoft software. Milsoft’s Engineering & Operations System integrates Engineering Analysis, Outage Management, Geographic Information, Field Engineering and IVR Communications with each other and with a utility’s other systems, applications and data to enable the most efficient and effective planning, operation and management of an intelligent grid. Learn more at http://www.milsoft.com
TextPower provides text-messaging (SMS) solutions for mission-critical applications ranging from immediate 2-way communications with customers/staff to high security authentication of remote users. Our SmartAlerts™ platform serves dozens of utilities across North America with solutions designed for utilities to receive and send notices of outages to and from consumers, provide real-time load control alerts, Beat The Peak or conservation notices, improve collections with real-time disconnect or low balance alerts, simplify field crew communications, and provide integrated texting solutions with the utility’s outage management system and billing system. Learn more at www.textpower.com
MANASSAS, VA and SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, CA--(Marketwired – Feb 10, 2015) – TextPower, a leader in innovative text messaging software solutions, announced that TextPower SmartAlerts™ have been successfully deployed by Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC), providing customers with convenient, reliable text messaging communications for outage alerts and seasonal peak demand shaving.
NOVEC is a locally based and member owned electric distribution cooperative headquartered in Manassas, Virginia. The not-for-profit co-op supplies and distributes electricity and provides energy-related services to more than 157,000 customers in Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford, and Clarke counties, the Town of Clifton, and the City of Manassas Park. It is one of the largest electric cooperatives in the nation.
For the past year NOVEC has used TextPower’s text messaging platform to implement two main communications strategies — load shaving and outage reporting. Thousands of NOVEC customers have selected to opt in to receive alerts about reducing their use of power during the hottest and coldest days to conserve power.
By reducing the amount of power consumed during the hottest and coldest days of the year, NOVEC can reduce its total wholesale power costs and pass the savings on to customers. For more than 30 years, NOVEC has recruited customers to help in this effort by installing remote-operated load management switches on water heaters and air conditioners. The load management program has been very successful and resulted in millions of dollars in savings for customers with very little effort.
Building on that success, NOVEC offers another way to help customers “use it wisely” by using their cellphones. Customers can now sign up to receive a text message at peak-use times to remind them to conserve energy on those days when it matters the most.
“Consumers are getting more and more used to relying on text messaging as a basic everyday communications tool and it’s become a very popular service with more of our customers opting in daily,” said Roy.
TextPower SmartAlerts are also used for two-way outage reporting. Customers can report outages in to NOVEC and receive alerts letting them know when the power is back on. Simply typing in the keyword “status” allows customers to check to see if the power’s on, in real-time, or to get an estimate on when the power will come back on.
“We knew we wanted to use text messaging for the outage reporting. Surveys told us that our customers are highly affluent, demanding more and more technology and communications,” said John Roy, Communications Specialist with NOVEC.
According to Roy, after reviewing TextPower and comparing it to other vendors, TextPower’s support of Milsoft multi-speak technology was a key factor in NOVEC’s choice, along with recommendations from other utilities where it has been successfully implemented.
“NOVEC is one of the industry leading utilities that is maximizing the power of text messaging,” noted Mark Nielsen, Executive Chairman and co-founder of TextPower. “Our TextPower messaging platform is integrated with Milsoft’s Outage Management System at NOVEC to deliver greater customer service while saving the utility money. We are pleased to partner with NOVEC to deliver this innovation to their customers.”
About TextPower, Inc.
TextPower, Inc. provides alerting and authentication solutions to a variety of industries worldwide using text messaging (SMS). The company’s software and text messaging services help companies enhance their revenues, decrease costs and improve customer service. TextPower’s authentication product, TextKey™, replaces the token or security fob previously needed to verify the identity of online users for password-protected applications. TextPower’s mission-critical infrastructure employs geo-redundancy for the industry’s highest reliability, providing delivery to virtually every cell phone in the United States and connections to most recognized wireless operators around the world. Visit http://www.TextPower.com, email Info@TextPower.com or call 888.818.1808 for more information.
Abilene, Texas — July 1, 2014 — Milsoft, an industry-leading provider of engineering and operations software for electric utilities, and Itron, Inc. (NASDAQ: ITRI), a world-wide technology and services company dedicated to the resourceful use of energy and water, have announced the successful integration between Milsoft’s Outage Management System (OMS) and Itron’s smart grid and AMI software. This collaboration makes both Milsoft OMS and Itron® Total Grid more effective and valuable for electric distribution utilities.
Interoperability between systems improves detection of customer service interruption and restoration thereby improving utility response and customer service.
“Milsoft is determined to seamlessly integrate and interoperate our Engineering & Operations System with every system and application that our customers use because that is what they want,” said Jeffrey Carr, co-chief executive officer, Product Development. “Interoperating with Itron means that more data is available for our OMS, enhancing the ability of our OMS users to detect, locate and respond to service outages and verify service restoration.”
Recently, the two companies successfully completed interoperability testing. Interoperability between Itron and Milsoft’s systems streamlines power outage information for utility customer service representatives. The interface between Milsoft’s Engineering & Operating System, including its OMS, and Itron’s OpenWay® Collection Engine and Itron’s IEE MDM is in compliance with the MultiSpeak® 3.0 standard. The integrated systems enable Milsoft’s OMS to request data from all AMI meters from Itron’s multi-commodity systems. Furthermore, Milsoft OMS, through MultiSpeak®, can determine the communication status of Itron’s meters. Itron’s systems actively detect outages and restorations as they occur and pushes them immediately to Milsoft’s OMS. This work represents Milsoft’s and Itron’s shared vision for giving utility customer service representatives the information they need to do their jobs more easily, effectively and efficiently.
“Interoperability between our systems will provide real-time information about measurement and control devices in the field, giving utilities a holistic view of their assets,” said Jeff Carkhuff, vice president of global product management for electricity at Itron. “By integrating Itron® Total Grid with Milsoft’s OMS, we are improving power recovery capabilities and helping public power utilities resourcefully manage electricity.”
The Milsoft team has provided industry leading engineering and operations software and support to electric utilities in the US and abroad for more than 25 years. More than a thousand utilities, consultants, universities and others use Milsoft solutions. Milsoft’s E&O System integrates Milsoft’s Engineering Analysis, Outage Management, Geographic Information, Field Engineering and IVR Communications with each other and with a utility’s other applications and data to enable the most efficient and effective planning, operation and management of an intelligent grid. Milsoft’s customers say that the company’s excellence in technical support and customer service is unmatched by other vendors that they deal with.
Itron is a world-leading technology and services company dedicated to the resourceful use of energy and water. We provide comprehensive solutions that measure, manage and analyze energy and water. Our broad product portfolio includes electricity, gas, water and thermal energy measurement devices and control technology; communications systems; software; as well as managed and consulting services. With thousands of employees supporting nearly 8,000 customers in more than 100 countries, Itron applies knowledge and technology to better manage energy and water resources. Together, we can create a more resourceful world. Join us: www.itron.com.
The MultiSpeak® Specification is an industry-wide software standard that facilitates interoperability of diverse business and automation applications used in electric utilities. It has been developed and maintained by a collaboration of NRECA and the over 150 software vendors, consultants and utilities that are members of the MultiSpeak® Initiative. Learn more at: MultiSpeak.
ABILENE, Texas – May 20, 2014 — Milsoft Utility Solutions, Inc., Peninsula Light Company in Gig Harbor, Washington, has chosen Milsoft Hosted Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Communications.
Peninsula Light Company has steadily implemented the best possible technologies and methods to communicate with its customers including the company’s website, text messaging, Facebook and Twitter. The deployment of Milsoft Hosted IVR further expands and improves the convenience and flexibility of customer communications.
Milsoft Hosted IVR Communications enables utilities to communicate with their customers and employees, rain or shine, 24/7/365 with clear, accurate and consistent information on every call. Customers can report outages without being turned away by a busy signal, and the utility can contact them with updates on outages or other events. Milsoft Hosted IVR can accomplish this more economically, conveniently and reliably than on-site telecom hardware and software.
About Peninsula Light Company
Peninsula Light Co. is a member owned electric cooperative, the sixth oldest in the U.S. Since 1925, the utility has been serving the Gig Harbor and Key Peninsulas, and Fox Island in Western Pierce County. PenLight is a “full requirements utility” of the Bonneville Power Administration. The utility has grown to be the second largest cooperative in the Northwest, serving over 31,000 meters with 977 miles of line and 112 square miles of service territory. The company also provides service to 3,230 water consumers. To learn more visit: Peninsula Light Company.
About Milsoft Utility Solutions, Inc.
The Milsoft team has provided industry leading engineering and operations software and support to electric utilities in the US and abroad for more than 25 years. More than a thousand utilities, consultants, universities and others use Milsoft solutions. Milsoft’s E&O System integrates Milsoft’s Engineering Analysis, Outage Management, Geographic Information, Field Engineering and IVR Communications with each other and with a utility’s other applications and data to enable the most efficient and effective planning, operation and management of an intelligent grid. Milsoft’s customers say that the company’s excellence in technical support and customer service is unmatched by other vendors that they deal with. Learn more at: Milsoft Utility Solutions.
ABILENE, Texas – December 17, 2013 — Milsoft Utility Solutions, Inc., Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative has purchased Milsoft Geographic Information System (GIS) and Milsoft Outage Management System (OMS).
Deep East Texas EC, a long time user of Milsoft Engineering Analysis, has expanded to the Milsoft E&O System with the addition of GIS and OMS. “Milsoft GIS will enable us to more conveniently and accurately create, manage and use the circuit model, system maps and facilities data that we need for the best possible planning and operation of our electric distribution system,” said System Engineer Jessie Morgan, “and the Milsoft OMS will help us identify and respond to service outages more quickly and efficiently than ever.”
Milsoft GIS software provides state of the art capabilities for electric utility mapping and asset data management through powerful yet easy to use software that incorporates a detailed electric network circuit model and is fully integrated with ESRI GIS tools. It provides all of the data capture, management and display capabilities that a utility needs to realize the full benefits of using GIS. Milsoft OMS enables utilities to detect, evaluate and respond to customer service outages more quickly and effectively, especially during severe system outage events. A detailed electric network connectivity model and logical location prediction enable speedy, accurate detection, response and restoration and ensures timely and accurate communications with employees, customers and other stakeholders. Milsoft leads the industry in integration and interoperability of its E&O System, including the GIS and OMS applications, with its customers’ other systems and applications.
About Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative
Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative is an electric transmission and distribution cooperative headquartered in San Augustine, Texas. The utility serves approximately 42,000 metered accounts including residential, commercial and industrial customers as well as municipalities in eight counties in extreme east Texas. Learn more at Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative.
About Milsoft Utility Solutions
The Milsoft team has provided industry leading engineering and operations software and much acclaimed customer service and support to electric utilities in the US and abroad for more than 25 years. More than 1,000 utilities, consultants, universities and others use Milsoft solutions for planning, analysis and operations. Milsoft’s E&O System integrates Milsoft’s Engineering Analysis, Outage Management, Geographic Information, Field Engineering and IVR Communications with each other and with a utility’s other applications and data to enable the most efficient and effective planning, operation and management of an intelligent grid.