Providing your customers with communication options is essential as we rely more on technology to stay connected. Making that communication simple is critical. Now, you can enhance that connectivity and communication by leveraging the new outage two-way texting feature. Powered by the NISC enterprise, the new two-way texting feature utilizes the accessibility of SmartHub, along with the communication power of Messenger and NISC's Outage Management System (OMS), to provide an easy, convenient way for your members and customers to report and receive updates on an outage. "Efficient communication is always essential, but has become critical during these uncertain times," said Amber Wesche, NISC product manager for SmartHub. "The ability to report an outage and receive updates via text is going to give our Members more flexibility and more options to reach their members and customers efficiently and effectively." Through two-way texting, your members and customers will have the ability to text a key word to you in order to report an outage or receive a status update regarding a current issue. Customers can text OUT to a designated text number to report an outage or STATUS to check the status of their service during an outage, and will receive an automatically generated message to keep them updated. "Two-way outage texting supports our strategic initiative to provide robust outage communication for our members," said Keith Stapleton, chief communications officer at Sam Houston Electric Cooperative. "They've been asking for it, and we expect outage texting to increase member satisfaction." To take advantage of two-way texting, your member or customer must be a registered SmartHub user with a phone number listed as a Messenger contact. Also, NISC's OMS system is a requirement for use.
As remote working ramped up in response to COVID-19, there has been an increase in opportunistic actors who are testing the defenses of businesses as their workers shift to home offices, NERC said.Cyber criminals, for instance, have targeted remote work technologies, such as video conferencing services even as many of their targets, employees working remotely, are more vulnerable by being distracted by domestic circumstances and anxiety about the threat of COVID-19. And, in many cases, those employees and their employers are even more vulnerable because they are working on computers that had to be made secure quickly.“We are lucky to be able to do it, but working from home comes with risks,” Scott Kaylor, manager, member cybersecurity and networking services at National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC), said.“Overall, our workload for supporting our Members in their work-at-home transition has increased by at least three times,” Kaylor said. “We are still seeing Members sending workers home and our calls are still about two times what they are under normal circumstances.”With so many employees working from home, “the threat has grown immensely because now you have all these unknowns,” Kaylor said. All those devices greatly increase what IT experts call the “attack surface” available to cyber criminals.In late April, the FBI’s cyber division reported receiving 3,000 to 4,000 cybersecurity complaints each day. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the unit received about 1,000 complaints a day.Part of that challenge comes from trying to provide high level information technology security in an environment that had to be put in place quickly. A utility’s IT department has little control of how an employee connects to the internet when they are working from home. “A virtual employee is more of a challenge” [...]
Welcome to episode 4 of our Navigating COVID-19 Podcast series! In this episode we’re speaking with Katie Pfennigs, Marketing and Communications Supervisor for Flathead Electric Cooperative in Kalispell, Montana. Katie shares how Flathead continued some of their Annual Meeting traditions despite having to cancel their meeting this year, and other ways the cooperative is supporting their community during this time. Have a story you’d like to share? Please email Jennifer Segelle at email@example.com.
Lake Saint Louis, Mo., May 4, 2020 – National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC), a leading provider of software solutions to utility and telecommunication companies, has launched an upgraded version of the NISC Community, NISC’s online communications and content sharing platform for Members and employees. The NISC Community, which was first established in 2008, is a one-stop-shop enabling users to discover valuable resources and information to assist in their jobs, share information with NISC subject matter experts and peers across the country, and grow through collaboration and training opportunities. The upgrade marks the fifth generation of the NISC Community. “Just as we continually update our solutions and software, we’re always looking for new ways to enhance the NISC Community for our Members and employees,” said NISC Engagement Analyst and Community Manager Tammy Eck. “We’re excited by the new capabilities available with this upgrade and for what’s to come as we build out our roadmap for future offerings.” For more information regarding the NISC Community, please contact Community Support at firstname.lastname@example.org. About NISCNational Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) is an information technology organization that develops, implements and supports software and hardware solutions for our Members. We deliver advanced solutions, services and support to 844 independent telephone companies, electric cooperatives and other public power entities. NISC is an industry leader providing information technology solutions including billing, accounting, operations, automated mailroom services, third-party integration as well as many other solutions. With facilities in Mandan, N.D., Lake Saint Louis, Mo., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Shawano, Wis., Blacksburg, Va., and Austin, Texas, NISC and its subsidiaries employ more than 1,300 professionals.
Lake Saint Louis, Mo., May 1, 2020 – National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) strives to provide maximum value to its current Members, while continuing strategic growth of its Membership. That growth was exhibited by the NISC Board of Directors' approval of several new Members during its April meeting. The approvals, coupled with the consolidation of two Member organizations, brings NISC's Membership total to 844. The following utility and telecommunication companies were welcomed to the NISC family. Utilities Bridger Valley Electric Association, Mountain View, Wyo.Cowlitz County, Public Utility District No. 1, Longview, Wash.Dixie Electric Membership Corporation, Baton Rouge, La.Surprise Valley Electrification Corp., Alturas, Calif. Telecoms Citizens Telephone Company, Hammond, N.Y.Consolidated Business Services, Mt. Angel, Ore. "Membership growth enhances NISC's economies of scale, while allowing for an annual investment of more than $50 million in research and development and steady Membership rates," said Susan Imm, NISC vice president of Sales and Marketing. "Now more than ever, we understand and appreciate the critical role our Members play in their communities," Imm said. "We're grateful for the trust these new Members have placed in us to leverage technology, improve efficiencies and help them provide reliable service to those who depend on them." About NISCNational Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) is an information technology organization that develops, implements and supports software and hardware solutions for our Members. We deliver advanced solutions, services and support to 844 independent telephone companies, electric cooperatives and other public power entities. NISC is an industry leader providing information technology solutions including billing, accounting, operations, automated mailroom services, third-party integration as well as many other solutions. With facilities in Mandan, N.D., Lake Saint Louis, Mo., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Shawano, Wis., Austin, Texas, and Blacksburg, Va., NISC and its subsidiaries [...]
At NISC, we see our Members as not only our Member-Owners but also part of our IT cooperative community. In regard to cybersecurity, an educated community is a safer community. We want to help you all achieve a secure workplace – whether in your physical building or in your employees’ homes. Here are the top five threats we are seeing during this pandemic and pointers on how to reduce the threat. Social Distancing, Not Social Engineering In today’s cyberworld, everything is fair game, even your employees. Cybercriminals will go to extreme lengths to trick your employees into opening a hole in your network for them. Now with the coronavirus pandemic, the opportunities for social engineering trickery have increased. With unemployment and stimulus payments being deposited, thieves leverage these hot topics to lure in those unsuspecting victims. Everything from emails with malicious malware embedded to exploit your critical business data, to spam mimicking a legitimate financial institution to trick recipients into giving up their login credentials, the cybercrime tactics evolve where they see a weakness. During times of uncertainty, it’s human nature that the numerous distractions cause our guards to go down. Train your employees to identify signs of a potential phishing campaign and remind them the risk is even greater right now. Is the spelling correct? Does the sender match the email address? Am I expecting this email? Does the email want me to click on or download something? Who should I contact if I see something malicious? When in doubt, follow up before opening up. Remote Collaboration Concerns It is hard to replace face to face communication. Fortunately, technology is helping bridge this disconnect. From emails to instant messaging to video conferences, it is [...]
Welcome to episode 3 of our Navigating COVID-19 Podcast series! In this episode, we hear from Steve Sjoberg, Manager of Communications and Public Relations for Cass County Electric Cooperative in Fargo, North Dakota. Steve discusses Cass County’s recent donation of more than 1,000 face masks to health care providers and first responders in their community, as well as how they are working with other local community leaders to navigate COVID-19. Have a story you’d like to share? Please email Jennifer Segelle at email@example.com.
Welcome to episode 2 of our Navigating COVID-19 Podcast series! In this episode, we hear from Bill Gerski, Senior Vice President of Business Development, Lori Lowe, Manager of Customer Service and Billing Support, and Pete Yastishock, Safety Director, from Tri-Co Connections in Wellsboro, Pa., as they discuss Tri-Co's efforts to continue deploying broadband services in a time when users need it most. They also share some of the cool things they’re doing to help employees in the midst of this pandemic and the measures they are taking to protect both employees and customers. Have a story you’d like to share? Please email Jennifer Segelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Coronavirus pandemic has presented many challenges for our organizations, but it has also showcased our Members’ deep sense of community and innovation. We’ve been so inspired by the good work our Members have been doing to take care of their members/customers and communities, and we wanted to highlight some of those stories to shine a light on their efforts and spark ideas for others. We’re excited to bring those stories to you in our new Navigating COVID-19 Podcast. Our first interview was with Jennifer Prather of Totelcom Communications in De Leon, Texas. Hear how Totelcom has been giving back to their community during COVID-19, and Jennifer’s advice to other organizations looking to get involved. Have a story you’d like to share? Please email Jennifer Segelle at email@example.com. Thanks for listening!
Delivering exceptional communications and energy services has always been essential, but now those services are more important than ever. COVID-19 has completely changed the way businesses are operating and seeing the incredible ways our Members have navigated recent challenges to support their communities has made us so proud to serve these industries. NISC Member San Isabel Electric Association (SIEA), based in Pueblo West, Colo., is just one of those organizations working diligently to serve members with minimal interruptions in light of COVID-19. San Isabel General Manager, Reg Rudolph, shared his thoughts on how the co-op is adapting in the transition to remote work. “We had to quickly procure the necessary hardware for our employee base to work from home,” Reg said. “It’s been challenging because our virtual private network (VPN) has been struggling due to the number of users logging on and some of our employees are limited by their bandwidth and WiFi speeds at home. Providing some training for our employees on work from home procedures has been crucial to this transition.” San Isabel has also closed their office to in-person payments and is taking extra precautions with their employees in the field. “Field work has definitely been limited as we have to keep a safe distance from our members and one another,” Reg said. “Some of our larger jobs requiring multiple SIEA employees have been halted for the time being.” Among the solutions helping Reg and San Isabel continue to serve members is Messenger, which they have been using to quickly notify members of changing practices such as suspending disconnects for non-payment, waiving fees and notifying members that their offices are closed to walk-in traffic. San Isabel has also been utilizing SmartHub to [...]