Case Study

Electric Utility Company Uses a Mobile App In-the-Field to Gather Critical Information For Their Installation Team.

An electric utility company serving businesses, homes, schools, farms, and other establishments in a territory spanning more than 2000 square miles, uses an Android app in-the-field to gather critical information for their installation team.

About Our Client

Our client is an electric utility company that serves a territory spanning more than 2000 square miles. Much of which is rural land.

The process of installing new electric power lines starts with mapping the location where transmission and distribution facilities will be installed.

This includes sending members of their field team ahead of the install team to take precise measurements, photos, notes and place markers in the exact spot where new utility lines will be installed.

The field team needs to quickly and accurately get this information back to their central office. As a public utility they can’t afford costly inefficiencies, errors, and delays that would require a worker to go back onsite to collect missing information.

The Opportunity

Prior to meeting with Big Fish, each member of their field team was assigned an expensive, hand-held GPS device along with a laptop.

After collecting notes, coordinates and information at the install site, the team would then travel back to the office where all of this data would be manually re-entered into their computer systems.

This manual, labor intensive process created inefficiencies and risk of errors that would lead to delays. If a mistake was found, or a detail was overlooked, a member of the field team would be sent back to the site, which could be well over 100 miles away, to collect the missing information.

The utility company’s management needed a better way. They looked to the mobile phones that their team already carried with them for this solution.

The challenge was that with a rural electric network that covers a geographic area spanning more than 2000 square miles, mobile phone coverage is unreliable.

The Solution

The utility company’s technical services group collaborated with Big Fish to design a mobile solution that would achieve their goals – reduce errors and risk, simplify the process for their field team, and save time and money spent on expensive GPS devices.

Big Fish designed the solution that enabled their teams to take photos and capture GPS coordinates within a mobile app. Notes describing the install site condition could be added and the work order then uploaded, in real time, to the team back at the office. This enabled instant access to data collected throughout the day.

One major obstacle that Big Fish overcame concerned the many “dead zones” without cell phone coverage due to the largely rural service territory.

Instead of requiring the utility’s field team to return to the office and enter the information manually, Big Fish designed the mobile app to recognize when Internet access at the installation site isn’t available. In that case, the collected data is saved and uploaded to the Utility Company’s cloud-based servers as soon as the phone is back to an area receiving an Internet signal.

The app was designed for Android smartphones, particularly heavy duty devices that can withstand drops, rain and dust.