In the wake of hurricane Sandy I created a status dashboard for the NYC power grid to show the extent of outages and keep track of repairs: NYCpowerstatus.com.
Hurricane Sandy hit NYC on the 29th of November and my East Village apartment lost power around 8 pm. I wasn’t too worried though, ConEd had announced they might turn off power temporarily to protect their equipment. After all, I had wine and an awesome book. When I powered up my kindle I was greeted with the terrible ‘low battery screen’. Bad timing.
The next day I went to stay with good friends in Bushwick who had power and Internet. It wasn’t until I walked across the bridge and got some 4G back that I realized the scope of the disaster. An electrical substation on 14th st had exploded and all of lower Manhattan was without power. Other parts of the metropolitan area got completely devastated in what’s probably the worst storm NYC has seen in modern times.
Finding information in a crisis
As I was trying to stay informed about the outage I realized there were no good tools available. The official ConEd Storm Center had plenty of real-time data, but it was presented in a convoluted and inconsistent way. For instance, their map had several markers next to my block, one claiming 3 outages and another stating 65 000 outages.
The bad user experience inspired me to take this data and present it in a better way. I created a dashboard where it’s easy to get an overview of the current outages and keep track of how the repairs are progressing. The project is live on NYCpowerstatus.com and the complete source can be found on Github.
Today, a week later lower Manhattan has it’s power back, but other areas are still in the dark. I hope NYCpowerstatus.com will be helpful for those affected and that the project will inspire others to build useful tools in this time of crisis.