Bringing Transparency to the Power & K-Electric
K-Electric has never failed to disappoint us whenever a weather calamity shows up in Karachi. From heat wave to even tiniest rain in the city, K Electric always fails to provide power to the Karachites. Surprisingly, when you complain; they claim that more than 80% of the city has been restored. It is just your (my) area that is in the process of being restored.
Upon inquiry, all we hear there is tripping is the feeder and they are re-energizing the feeders as we speak.
Most of the reasons/ information usually from their call center, is well scripted. Same goes with their social media support. They have a pre-scripted reason for the power failure which they carelessly copy-paste for our consumption.
Looking at all the situation, I thought perhaps we could develop a framework whereby there is some amount of transparency about the information that is being passed on to us. Yesterday, as I was suffering from a 12 hours+ breakdown, the K-Electric representative at their call center as well as their social media was screaming that more than 80% of Karachi has been restored. As it happens, consumers sitting DHA, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Nazimabad were also facing the same.
The Problem with K-Electric
I have friends/ colleagues living all over Karachi, so once I heard the claim, I heard back telling me otherwise. I called the call center back to express my frustration, but as always it was of no use. So it occurred to me, why not should we a power outage monitoring system deployed in Pakistan, which can of course start from Karachi.
It is necessary to have such a framework. The reason for the hypothesis is our general and corporate behavior in Pakistan, where doing a cover up or providing falsified information is no big deal. Covering up for corporate has become a norm for companies in Pakistan. Not only it is a norm, it is very easy to fall through with a cover up story. The unfortunate part is doing so is very easy and there is no way to find out what the real story should anyone decides to cover up.
K-Electric, though has become a private organization in past few years, yet it is a public utility company. It is imperative that transparency must be prevail in public interest as well as a watch dog.
The technology will require to have two end of the same system. One can be a self powering unit deployed at the consumer houses by their will; the other will a set of servers which will present the information on a website. The website will be available for open access. Anyone who has access to internet can view details on the website with a common internet browser (even K-Electric).
The unit will have a connection to the power grid at the power consumer’s location. The unit can possible have the ability to record events like power failure and resumption from the grid. Deploying Such a system strategically can monitor the maximum number of power grids of Karachi. Perhaps be also using the consumer unit will also allow record power quality information such as voltage and frequency from the K-Electric power grid. Frequency and voltage are key to record as they are most vital units which reflect the quality parameters of the power from the grid and are usually responsible for blowing up electrical equipment if not confined in the prescribed parameter.
All the receiving information from the consumer end unit will relay the information in real time and be available on the website. Hence it defeats the policy of covering up information by the power provider and distribution companies
Go-to Market Strategy
Without any doubt, the K-Electric or any other power provider in Pakistan will not want to make this information public. They may want to monitor the information using the concept but would definitely discourage the former.
The project requires not just will but also technical and expertise and inventory. Which means cost. Such a project must have help of funding agency. Perhaps an organization which takes interest power and/or energy initiatives can support in the matter. Preferably an International Non Governmental Organisation helping will be beneficial to ensure impartiality and data integrity.
It is important to conceive such concepts and initiatives in existence so more transparency possible between the public utilities and the consumers. These concepts serve as a watch dog and a pressure group to large organization and force to create more transparency and ensure the provision of quality of service provided to the consumer.
After all the consumer does at the end pays to keep the utilities running and it is the right of the consumer to know. Especially matters which directly concerns them.
I believe adapting this concept is a must.