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Episode 12 - Piloting Remote Inspections

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Episode 12 - Piloting Remote Inspections

ESA’s Vice President of Operations, Eric Kingston announces the development of its very first app for remote inspections and details how the organization has improved its online services.

With around 420,000 inspections a year, it’s vital that the ESA have the best means of communications between its inspectors and its licensed electrical contractors (LECs). That’s why it's developing a brand new app for remote inspections to maximize LECs’ time.

Eric Kingston, ESA Vice President of Operations, said the development of the online platform will simplify the remote inspection process for LECs. “It provides us a more efficient way to conduct low-risk inspections particularly in low-risk areas,” he said.

In this episode, Kingston explains the latest online service improvements and dives into the in’s and out’s of the app, its new inspector mapping tool and how LECs can give their feedback on the developments.

When can I use a remote inspection?

Like many other organizations, the pandemic forced the ESA to rethink their approach to business. During COVID-19, the ESA learned that remote inspections can be an efficient way to conduct business – especially on lower-risk inspections.

Since then, the organization has worked on ensuring it can become a permanent part of the ESA’s service options.

“Standardizing and enhancing remote inspection tools is very important, as it will greatly simplify the submissions of photos and videos for LECs,” Kingston said.

This tool will be particularly important for inspections with a low risk rating. When LECs are operating in more remote areas, it can streamline the process and bring better turnaround times for the public.

“Take for example, a low-risk defect correction in the far north, where we do not visit as frequently,” he explained. “A photo would be a great option for the LEC, inspector and the end customer.”

If you think a remote inspection could maximize your time, it’s important to remember that the decision ultimately resides with the inspector on whether or not photo submissions will be adequate for the review.

Those decisions will be based on the level of risk of the job.

“Just because you send us photos, we may still choose to physically inspect based on the level of risk,” Kingston said.

How will the app work?

In developing its very first app, the ESA wanted to ensure the tool would be a valuable resource for LECs in their day-to-day work. That’s why it took the time to not only pilot the program, but to ask LECs directly for their feedback on what’s most important to them.

“We want to make things a lot simpler and incorporate the learnings from our pilot program and the LEC survey,” he said.

The survey showed that 93% of participating license holders were in favor of implementing a permanent service option for remote inspections. And, 64% of participants said they preferred submitting photos over videos or live streaming.

One of the biggest pieces of feedback was that a mobile online portal was a must in making remote inspections easier. That’s why the app will be launching this year.

“The app is going to be compatible with all phone and service provider types. We’re also going to have specific guidance on the criteria for photos and videos,” Kingston explained.

The app will also have geo-coding built in – meaning it will be able to detect where each photo submission was taken and verify it is from the correct site.

Additionally, the photos will attach to the LECs notification and be available for viewing in an online portal.

“We will of course be following up with users to capture their feedback as the tool evolves,” he said. “This is new and we’re very excited by the possibilities.”

Optimizing communications

Remote inspections are just one part of a larger picture of improving communications between LECS and inspectors.

The inspector mapping tool is another valuable resource to give LECS a better indication of when an inspector might arrive. In some areas, inspectors will now be able to send messages letting contractors know when they’re on their way or even giving an estimated time of arrival.

“While things can change throughout an inspector’s day, we recognize the value of this communication,” he said. “We’re always looking at simplified and different ways to improve communications.”

In addition, a number of improvements have been made to online services and cultivate a better experience for mobile users. This includes:

  • The ability to reissue invoices after making changes to the site information or purchase order numbers
  • Updates to the scheduling screen, like enabling the final inspection flag
  • Better search tools
  • Adding exit buttons on tabs

That’s just a few of the many, many enhancements implemented. More information on these improvements is available on the website. Listen to the full episode to hear more of the latest online resources for LECs.

Follow Grounded in Ontario wherever you get your podcasts. Got a technical question or an idea for an upcoming topic on our show, we want to hear from you! Email us at podcast@esasafe.com.

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Content Related to this Episode

Link to all ESA online portals such as LEC, ME, CSS, etc.

Learn more about recent and upcoming enhancements to the ESA Online LEC Portal 

The Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) is proud to be selected as the inaugural CIO award winner by International Data Corporation (IDC) Canada and Foundry's CIO, for the implementation of an inspector mapping tool. 

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