Power Outage? There's an App for that

As Tropical Storm Don approaches the Texas coast — Houstonians are once again reminded that it's time to have all your hurricane gear in order.  And now there's a new iPhone app that could help in the process.

The Reliant OutageAssist App isn't just for hurricanes.  It's a tool for any time your power goes out, no matter which electricity provider you have.  But the features on the app are designed to be most helpful during big storms.

Jonathan Jones is with Reliant and helped develop the app.  He says they noticed during power outages, people rely heavily on cell phones and social media.

"The first thing it lets you do is report an outage, that's obviously the most important thing to do — let your TDSP know that your power is out. So we've provided all the different TDSP's numbers in there with a click-to-call functionality so there's no digging for numbers or trying to find out who to call. You just find your number and click it and you can report your outage immediately."

You don't have to be a Reliant customer to use the app and Jones says it's free and doesn't contain any ads.  He says people often get upset by the lack of information during a power outage, so the app also pushes Facebook and Twitter updates to your phone.

"We've built in a live Twitter feed into the app into the bottom of all the pages. So you know in here we're reporting information from Reliant, but at the same time we're reporting information from the TDSPs, maybe information from the local news channels, weather, or even information from local governments."

The app also has a built-in flashlight.  Right now the OutageAssist app is only available for iPhone and iPad, but Jones says they're working on an Android version as well.  Of course if the power goes out and you want to use the app, you'd better hope you remembered to charge your phone.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...