21C Communications Experience

Hurricane / Tropical Storm Irene blew through on Sunday morning, in front of the storm the rain was intense we had 7-8 inches in about 8 hours, the wind was not that strong.  Once the sun came out after the center of the storm passed the wind picked up but it only brought a few twigs down.  It was the rain / flooding that caused the most damage.  A branch fell on the power-line on our street during the heaviest rain and  shorted the line so we’ve been without power since 7:30AM on Sunday.  The Verizon FiOS back-up battery went out by about noon on Sunday, so we missed the phone call about the water not being safe to drink.  Perhaps NJ Water should consider using SMS, rather than just the home phone number to contact its customers?  A simple example of how communication enabled business processes are essential for any customer facing organization to meet the changes brought about by technology, that is, your home phone line is the first to go when the power goes.

3G internet access with AT&T has been a joke, with so many people in the area without internet access it’s been unusable.  Thankfully the power outages in our area are patchy, 2 of our neighbors still have power, so a very long cable means the fridge is still cold, and we can get internet access from our good neighbor while sitting out on the deck, hence this weblog entry.  It’s interesting to see how many emergency messages we’ve missed because the systems do not realize that the home phone line is no longer an always-on service.

Email was at best immensely frustrating as it’s over a painfully slow 3G connection, we now have WiFi to a neighbor’s FiOS broadband, so email is now practical.  The only thing that gets through reliably for us is SMS, so it should become the primary emergency contact for any FiOS customer.  If we had federated identity NJ Water could find out from VZ if my home line was present, and could then use SMS instead.  But unfortunately, federating identity means potential substitution of revenue earning traffic, so no incumbent is prepared to do that.  Perhaps the FCC should regulate the incumbents to federate identity of their customers?  The technology (enum) is there to get the message through. It’s just commercial self-interest is stopping its implementation, hence regulation is required improve the communications experience, and ensure those emergency messages are delivered.  Especially about the water as our 20 month old has been happily drinking the tap water until this morning (Wednesday) when we found out about the warning.