Nominated by the City of San Diego, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) won a Silver Award from the California Emergency Managers Services Association for its Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) Public Partners app.
SDG&E has made phenomenal strides in community emergency preparedness and response over the years, all the while facing different and unique challenges. Its coverage area is 4,100 square miles of a multitude of terrain, from the coastlines and mountains to deserts and valleys. It serves 3.6 million customers in two counties, including 25 separate communities and cities, and 16 federally recognized tribes.
“The transparency and effort that SDG&E provides to each jurisdiction in our area have created an incredible collaboration that allows for clear communication and a consistent, reliable partner in the planning and response process,” said Hannah Chasteene, Emergency Operations Center Manager for the City of San Diego. “Our region is better prepared because of their hard work and innovation. An example of this is the center of the nomination for this award.”
SDG&E developed a Public Safety Partner Portal and accompanying mobile application to support emergency response partners with situational awareness during situations where the company must proactively turn off power for safety reasons, commonly known as Public Safety Power Shut-offs (PSPS).
During these times, it is imperative that local emergency management agencies have the most updated information for planning, response and recovery purposes. SDG&E established a focus group of emergency managers from various sectors (local, state, tribal, water, wastewater, telecommunications, and hospital groups) to determine the best method for providing the necessary information. Initially a public safety partner web portal was developed to provide information like GIS maps of affected areas, customer counts for residential, critical infrastructure, and AFN populations, social media tool kits so partners could provide consistent and accurate messaging, 24/7 contacts into the SDG&E Emergency Operations Center, along with locations of community resource centers, critical infrastructure lists and Company Emergency and Disaster Preparedness Plans.
All at the push of a button.
“The Public Safety Partner Portal was really a gamer-changer in that it allows our partners access to critical real-time information that not only assists with their emergency planning and response, but helps amplify our messaging,” said Mona Freels, SDG&E Emergency Operations Services Manager. “Working with our partners to determine what information and accessibility features they need was essential to the program’s development and lead us to develop a mobile application, so they have everything they need when and where they need it.”
At the request of the focus group, a mobile application was added to enhance the capabilities of the website. The mobile application added functionality like customization of notifications, including push notifications and the ability to “follow” selected communities.
These innovative tools have provided SDG&E’s public safety partners with enhanced situational awareness throughout a PSPS, beginning 72 hours prior to a potential de-energization, and through to the power being fully restored.
“The information has been a game changer helping our jurisdiction, and the region be better prepared for the power outages,” said Chasteen. “The process of the focus groups has also been invaluable in sharing our comments, concerns, and questions with SDG&E.”