How California's Public Utility Commission is Using Mobile to Bolster its Workforce

The authority tasked with regulating public utilities in the state is looking toward mobile as a means of extending its reach and effectiveness.

by / April 26, 2017
Eyragon Eidam/Government Technology

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Limited funding and resources isn’t stopping the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) from looking to technology to close the gap between public need and its services.

Following an industry briefing hosted by Techwire* on April 25, CPUC CIO Reza Yazdi discussed some of the potential he sees in magnifying his workforce through mobile technology.

In the larger public safety sense, Yazdi said the smartphone, coupled with a CPUC reporting app, could be the difference between addressing utility issues quickly and experiencing a public safety emergency.

“Mobile reporting, as you know, everybody has a mobile device these days and we would like to make sure that these mobile devices can help us to provide the type of service that the public is expecting … to receive,” the CIO explained. “Basically, then, it expands our workforce to millions of people.”

As it stands, Yazdi said, the mobile project could put the power to spot problems throughout the expansive public utility network in the hands of potentially millions of Californians.

Though almost every state agency could make the argument for more resources, the CIO said utilities, like electricity and gas, could potentially pose a public safety risk if not addressed quickly.

Rather than relying solely on the occasional phone-based report — which are limited by residents knowing or taking the time to find the correct number — Yazdi said a mobile solution could allow for instant reporting, coupled with other useful tools like geolocation and photos.

“We have a limitation in terms of the number of investigators or people working for CPUC," Yazdi said. "Adding a mobile device, it will expand our hands from hundreds to millions of people. Then we can collect all of the information and try, based on the information we receive, [to] offer better services, especially in the public safety area.”

*Techwire is a publication of e.Republic, Government Technology's parent company.

Eyragon Eidam Web Editor

Eyragon Eidam is the Web editor for Government Technology magazine, after previously serving as  assistant news editor and covering such topics as legislation, social media and public safety. He can be reached at eeidam@erepublic.com.