It’s early December and I am sitting in my office—it’s a nice 57 degrees outside, however, this time tomorrow it will be below freezing. With this drop in temperature most of the country is getting ready for some type of precipitation, whether snow, rain or somewhere in-between. Now is a good time to review your Outage Settings and verify you have your Winter Storm Settings ready to go. As you know, getting hit with freezing rain and sleet can be a real mess and having your system configured to handle the outages created in this type of event versus a summer thunderstorm can make a big difference. Check out these four links on the NISC Community to set your OMS storm settings and learn about some new features as well: Communicating Outage Information and Status (iVUE 27 only) The First Big Outage Event of the Summer Tips for Managing Major OMS Events Tips for Managing Major OMS Events – Part 2 of 2 Stay safe and warm out there and as always if you need any support or assistance, our team is just a phone call away. Current weather alerts for 12/04/2013 at www.weather.gov
At NISC, your security and the security of your customers’ confidential information, including credit card data, is extremely important to us. For that reason, we do our best to provide payment solutions and services that are not only Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant from NISC’s standpoint, but that will assist you in meeting your PCI compliance requirements. A lot of people, though, think that PCI compliance may not pertain to them. Common misconceptions are that if an organization is not storing credit card data, or do not generally process a large amount of credit card data, they don’t have to worry about compliance. This is not true. Operating solutions outside of PCI compliance standards can result in fines from regulatory agencies, legal fees and fees from other financial institutions, extra compliance work and a loss of trust from your membership. According to First Data, the average cost of a security breach is $5.5 million. 78 percent of customers said they would not shop at a store if they knew it had suffered a card-data compromise. While NISC does our best to provide PCI-compliant solutions, compliance doesn’t stop there. PCI compliance requires that a Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) be completed by all merchants that process credit card payments. The SAQ requires answering questions to procedures and processes that pertain to your organization specifically. NISC is working with First Data to provide a solution to help our Members understand and meet PCI compliance requirements. The First Data Rapid Comply Solution provides an easy to use online guide featuring a step-by-step, self-guided approach to help you complete the SAQ, pre-filling many of the answers, and provides integrated network scanning if required. In an increasingly digital world, being able to [...]
iVUE® to power West Carolina Tel's financial, engineering and customer care functions Mandan, N.D., November 19, 2013 -- National Information Solutions Cooperative® was selected by West Carolina Rural Telephone Coop., Inc. (West Carolina Tel) to support its financial, engineering and customer care functions. For over sixty years, West Carolina Tel has been providing enhanced communication services to approximately 13,000 subscribers and businesses in western South Carolina. "West Carolina Tel started the process by evaluating over a half dozen companies,” said Jeff Wilson, CEO/General Manager. "As West Carolina investigated options, the field was narrowed to two vendors. We prioritized four points in our search: functionality, innovation, service and price.” According to Wilson, West Carolina spent a great deal of time calling existing companies from each vendor to isolate which vendor could take them forward while also providing the service and support West Carolina needs. Wilson added, "If all things had been equal, and they weren't, West Carolina would have selected NISC because its cooperative structure is stable, and we know NISC is going to be here tomorrow. NISC is very good at what they do!” "It was extremely gratifying to work with Jeff Wilson and West Carolina Tel through this entire process. The professionalism and their unwavering focus on selecting the IT partner to ultimately best serve their customers was next to none,” said Vern Dosch, NISC President and CEO. About West Carolina Tel For over sixty years, West Carolina Rural Telephone Coop., Inc. (West Carolina Tel) has been providing enhanced communication services to subscribers and businesses in western South Carolina. With offices located in Abbeville, McCormick and Iva, West Carolina Tel provides voice, internet, digital TV and wireless services to approximately 13,000 area residences and [...]
In October, electric linemen from across the country gathered in Bonner Springs, Kan., for the 2013 International Lineman’s Rodeo & Expo. This expo is a unique event featuring several events – such as the pole climb, a hurt man rescue and several mystery events – in which electric linemen compete to test their skills. When the results were posted, they displayed several NISC Members with great finishes in the 2013 event. Leading the senior division in first place is Black River Electric Cooperative. In the Journeyman REA, EMC and Co-op division, Farmer’s Electric Cooperative, Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative and Snapping Shoals EMC were among the top 10. In the apprentice REA, EMC and Co-op division, Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Co-op, Consumer’s Power, Southside Electric, Cumberland EMC, Morgan County REA and Lyon-Coffee Electric were all among the top-10 finishers. Congratulations to these and all of our Member organizations that competed in this year’s International Linemen’s Rodeo & Expo!
Lake Saint Louis, Mo., October 8, 2013 - Marietta, Georgia-based electric cooperative Cobb EMC has selected National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) to be its primary utility software services provider, as part of the co-op’s plan to realize efficiency gains across all of its customer operations areas. Chip Nelson, Cobb's President and CEO, said the move to NISC, a suburban St. Louis-based IT cooperative, was made after a rigorous internal assessment of its current information technology (IT) capabilities, costs, emerging technology opportunities, and the needs of a changing suburban consumer base. "We evaluated multiple options for utility service providers and, at the end of the day, NISC came out on top,” he said. “NISC serves hundreds of cooperative utilities across the country and has done so in several cases for more than 40 years. That stability, coupled with its innovation, strong references from our neighboring co-op utilities, affordability and a strong culture of customer support, led us to our conclusion that NISC was ideally suited to help Cobb EMC meet our needs and vision.” Nelson said that NISC’s enterprise solution, called iVUE®, will eliminate time-consuming manual processes and bring Cobb EMC’s operational data in one place, where it can be quickly and efficiently shared by the co-op’s operational and geographically-diverse business units. Cobb EMC will use NISC’s Customer Care & Billing, SmartHub, Meter Data Management and Automated Mailroom Services solutions. At NISC, Vern Dosch, President and CEO, said the organization welcomes Cobb as the newest NISC Member-Owner. “We were impressed by Cobb’s careful, deliberate and thorough evaluation of IT service providers, and we are grateful to Chip and his team for selecting NISC,” he said. “We have learned that Cobb EMC puts a high priority on efficiency [...]
Last week we wrapped up the record-setting 2013 Member Information Conference (MIC). Almost 2,500 Members, Customers, guests, partners and NISC staff gathered in downtown St. Louis to discover the possibilities that only leading-edge technology can bring. More than 150 sessions were offered and instructed by both NISC subject matter experts as well as the users themselves --- our valued Members. NISC Members, from the office to the field, shared their experiences and knowledge about NISC solutions.MIC kicked off with a networking social on the Skyline Terrace of the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch—the MIC host hotel. Hundreds of attendees gathered and “talked shop” as they took in the riverfront and St. Louis Arch views. The first official day of the MIC started with the Opening General Session focused on collaboration, technology, gratitude and innovation. NISC President and CEO Vern Dosch discussed where NISC is today and what the future may hold. Insight into what it means to be a successfuOGS.pngl organization of the 21st Century was presented by CEO of Northwestern REC, Michael Tirkpak. Dan Wilbanks, Vice President /COO, Laura Matthews, Usability Team Lead, and Brad Molander, Technology Evangelist, each represented a key strategy of NISC’s Research, Development and Quality Division (RDQ). Their presentations provided informative yet futuristic perspectives of what lies ahead. Topics covered by the RDQ team ranged from NISC embracing usability as a way to improve the users’ experience to learning about how new technologies like Google Glass may impact our industries. Dosch then ended the session by thanking every member of the audience for being a part of NISC and sharing how thankful we are to have them as partners. For the first time, the Industry General Sessions followed [...]
Lake Saint Louis, Mo., October 1, 2013 — National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC), an IT and software solution provider to 700 utility and telephone organizations, announced at their 2013 Member Information Conference a new Smart Grid Distribution Analysis module for their popular Meter Data Management System (MDMS). As part of the new Distribution Analytics solution, transformer load conditions and feeder losses are analyzed using advanced circuit-modeling capabilities along with interval meter usage data. Utilities can now proactively locate and replace critically overloaded or underloaded transformers at every customer service location. Recognizing and replacing these overloaded transformers will help utilities avert failure, which translates into significant operational savings. “NISC is pleased to make this new module available to the 120 utility Members currently using our cloud-based MDMS,” said Todd Eisenhauer, Vice President of Engineering and Operations for NISC. “The robust underlying modeling used for Distribution Analysis will serve as the foundation for bringing additional engineering analytics into NISC’s core products going forward.” Using hourly data available from the smart grid, the NISC Distribution Analysis solution scans 720 times more data points than past transformer-loading solutions, which ran on monthly data. NISC MDMS provides verified, validated data which leads to a more precise solution that is highly-accurate in detecting anomalies in transformer load. As a cloud-based and distributed architecture, the NISC MDMS is accessible from virtually anywhere, and can scale to perform the computationally intensive processes required by hundreds of utilities all collecting advanced meter data. All operational reports are dynamic, customizable and easy to share with anyone in the organization. “We are very pleased with the timely feedback and analysis being provided by the new Distribution Analysis module,” said Tom Musick, Director of Engineering and Operations [...]
National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC), a leading provider of information technology products and services to utilities and telecommunications organizations, has added Trena Quinn as Regional Business Manager focused on the south central region of the United States. “We are thrilled to welcome Trena Quinn to our Regional Business Manager team,” said Susan Imm, Utility Manager, Business Development and Sales at NISC. “Trena brings a wealth of experience to her new role which will prove very valuable for our members. Her enthusiasm for NISC is contagious.” Quinn comes to NISC after spending 14 years at Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative in Gilmer, Texas, where she served as both a supervisor of consumer accounts and most recently office manager. She served as project lead for Upshur through a conversion to iVUE that is scheduled to be live in September. “I’m excited,” Quinn said. “I liked the values that NISC stands for. Most co-ops have a strong foundation, and I really like the cooperative principles of the business.” Having spent the past 26 years living on the Upshur lines, Quinn is very familiar with the cooperative business model. After graduation from the University of Texas at Tyler, where she earned a degree in accounting, she became a Certified Public Accountant spending time working for her father as a CPA. In 1999, she discovered a position with Upshur and stayed with the organization until joining NISC. “I followed in my dad’s footsteps by going into accounting and becoming a CPA,” Quinn said. “He was a CPA and he had a public accounting tax firm. I worked for him for a while and decided that I enjoyed the business side of accounting more so than the tax side. I knew cooperatives [...]
Tornado activity throughout the Midwest has been particularly destructive this spring. Nowhere has it been more intense than in the state of Oklahoma. Four major tornadoes caused billions of dollars of damage, killed almost 50 people and disrupted the lives of thousands. The storms left devastation in both urban and rural areas. To extend a helping hand to those affected in co-op service areas, Blackwell, Oklahoma-based Kay Electric Cooperative has come up with a unique way to raise funds for tornado victims living in electric co-op service areas. Working with NISC, Kay Electric is marketing "Oklahoma Proud" t-shirts, with all the funds going into the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperative's (OAEC) Touchstone Energy Cooperative Oklahoma Relief Fund. The Fund is a 501c3 organization, with all donations tax-deductible. According to Joe Harris, CEO of Kay Electric, the fundraising effort underscores the Sixth Cooperative Principal: Cooperation among Cooperatives. “The tornadoes that ripped across our state have caused loss and heartache in co-op territory,” he said. “We know the unpredictable path of tornados can hit anywhere, at any time. While we're thankful to be spared damage and disruption, many of our Oklahoma neighbors were not so lucky.” Harris and the co-op's Member Relations/Public Relations Representative, Austin Partida, contacted NISC which, through its iGEAR division, printed in excess of 1,000 "Oklahoma Proud" t-shirts for the effort based on Partida's graphic design. “We saw the need and we developed the fundraising plan. We needed the t-shirts and we contacted NISC,” said Partida. “NISC immediately saw the need and the opportunity to support our effort through iGEAR. They ordered the shirts and printed the design at their facilities.” The Kay Electric team is marketing the "Oklahoma Proud" t-shirts through the organization’s [...]
On June 26, NISC hosted our first NISC Board Meeting in Cedar Rapids. It was the first visit to the new office for many of the Board members as well as their first opportunity to meet our team. We had an opportunity to share information about the past year and all of the exciting projects happening with our organization. With the constant change the industry is facing, there were also critical decisions needed to be made for the next fiscal year. NISC’s management just completed an intense planning effort that is an important part of how NISC is managed. The executive team outlined the planned strategies for continued growth and improvement for the next year. The session concluded with the approval of the fiscal year budget. We appreciate the Board’s continued confidence in the NISC management team and are looking forward to another successful year.