East Lansing Resident Creates Public BWL Outage Map

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East Lansing resident Jeff Siarto has created a dynamic outage map for Board of Water and Light customers to report outages, and power restorations.

Siarto is an East Lansing-based web designer and adjunct faculty member at MSU.

The map is based on a Google map where East Lansing and Lansing residents can post outage and restoration information.

"I noticed a lot of people publishing their intersection or their street address saying 'hey, we don't have power here or we have a downed line here,'" Siarto said.

But he felt those posts and information were getting lost in the jumble of posts on the BWL Facebook page.

"So I figured I'd take those postings and put them on the map and then publish the map and allow other people to add to them," he said.

"The major frustration, at least from what I saw reading comments, was not that it was taking so long to get power back... it's more of just a communication issue, I think that's what people were most frustrated about."

Unlike Consumers Energy and DTE, Lansing Board of Water and Light doesn't have a real time outage map for customers, but it's something the company is currently developing, according to company spokesperson Steve Serkaian.

"We're working on a "smart grid" system that's similar to what other utilities offer, but it's something that costs a significant amount of money to implement," he said. "But we have heard our customers loud and clear and we're committed to working on communicating with them better."

Serkaian said the recent storm has prompted BWL to work even faster on implementing the new technology.

Soon after he posted the map, Siarto said he noticed a change in the tone of comments, and was glad he could be a part of doing something productive.

"People were more focused on getting their point on the map and making sure others were communicating outages and restorations," he said.

The map already has more than 1,000 points and continues to grow. As power gets restored, Siarto wants to see the points change from red to green.

The outages on the map are reported by individuals, and have not been independently confirmed by WILX or by the Lansing Board of Water and Light.

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