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    What information demands in times of blackouts

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    In the Department of Institutional Communication of the Ciego de Ávila Electric Company, for many months the hustle and bustle has been greater than in "normal situations". Any breakdown in a thermoelectric plant or instability in the National Electric Power System puts stress on your routine.

    The high deficit in electricity generation faced by the country worries these workers to constantly update data that has become vital for planning daily life, such as the number of megawatts (MW) turned off, the affected circuits, information on the schedules of scheduled interruptions and breakdowns in the transmission networks.

    The growth of the channel in the Telegram messaging application has been exponential. If on August 11, 2022, the statistics registered 3,614 subscribers, until last November 2 they reached 19,935.

    Roberto Delgado Mejías, main specialist in Communication, refers that since October 2020 the channel had already been created, but little was published and it was not given the importance that it gained much later.

    "From the first days of last August, the Electrical Union (UNE) directed the country's electricity companies to keep this information channel updated, taking into account the worsening of the energy situation."

    One of the biggest questions from the population to this service is why they do not enable the comments option. “We can't cope with responding to all customers, can you imagine responding to thousands of followers? That is not humanly possible with the amount of personnel we have, that is why we leave it only as an information channel”, Delgado Mejías says.

    There are seven administrators of the Institutional Communication space. From the Department of Communication they update from Monday to Friday between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm; From that time onwards, and until the next morning, the entity's Management Center, which works in shifts, is in charge. While on weekends the workers of the Telephone Center (or Comprehensive Customer Service Center) carry the channel until 2:00 in the afternoon and from then on those of the Management Center.

    Several factors threaten a constant update, Dunaska Alcalá Ferrer, manager A in Communication and Marketing, says from connection problems with the company's servers with Havana, or from administrators on their mobiles at home in times of blackout —which slows down mobile data—, to the added burden of this work to that of jobs with other functions to fulfill.

    “We want to do the information as much in real time as possible, but it is difficult, because it does not depend on us, but on the information of the Provincial Cargo Dispatch. The dispatcher also has a great responsibility, because he has to send the guard car from the different municipalities, observe the behavior of the transmission lines, giving reports to the national one, and check the voltage and frequency to adjust the system parameters.

    “The call center supervisor, if she's serving a customer, can't quickly update the channel either. It is not that we fall asleep or are unconcerned about the information, these mishaps happen to us and they will continue to happen”.

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    One of the solutions, if not the ideal, would be to create positions for communicators in the Provincial Office to better serve until the energy contingency ends, a situation that seems delayed in time, in addition to ongoing maintenance and investments.

    “In the case of programming, it depends on the existing deficit, that is why there are weeks when two and three are done. With two blocks in the province of 60 to 65 MW each, when these figures are exceeded, everything runs. We eliminate the old affectation plan and fix the current one, we put a correction note, because, if not, the subscribers get confused”, Alcalá Ferrer explains.

    The work does not stop, daily these communicators prepare a report for managers and those involved, with the incidents of the previous day, with a view to improving the information offered to users, says Roberto Delgado. The programming is also circulated by the Radio Surco station, and is sent to the email lists of various companies and institutions.

    With the annoying blackouts, the flow of calls to the Telephone Center (18888) of the Electric Company has not stopped either, rather it has increased, even with the appearance of the channel on Telegram, Yunier Rodríguez Hernández, main specialist, confirms.

    “Some customers call to find out all the planned outage schedule for the day on their circuit and others; the operators, when reading everything to them, take several minutes, something that affects other calls not being able to enter at that moment”, the manager explained.

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    When carrying out a small analysis of the similar Telegram channels of other electricity companies in the country, the one in Ciego de Ávila stands out among the best, due to a greater number of subscribers in proportion to the total population of the territory, and the level of updating and more details in your notifications; despite aspects still to be perfected, as already mentioned.

    At all times, but more so in the current ones of various contingencies that the country is going through, communication is a strategic value to provide a better service to the people. Taking advantage of the new communication channels that the Internet allows must be the task of governments and entities, beyond directives or orientations; make it a constant quality practice.