New App Is for the Birds

Nesting habits often place osprey near energized electrical equipment – jeopardizing their well-being and potentially causing power outages.

May 28, 2020

It’s satisfying, and efficient, to have a simple, easy way to take care of a problem as soon as you spot it.

The FirstEnergy Avian Incident Reporting Application is a perfect example. The new app will enable employees to use their smartphones to report avian-related issues in real time – streamlining the process to protect nesting birds and enhance electric service reliability.

Birds of prey, like ospreys, often seek out tall structures including electric transmission towers and poles to build their nests, which can measure up to three feet wide. These nesting habits often place the birds near energized electrical equipment – jeopardizing their well-being and potentially causing power outages.

Employees can use this screen on the app to quickly report a nest on a company structure.

With the avian app, employees can submit photos and answer key questions through drop-down menus to report the location of nests or other bird-related issues along the company’s power lines.

“Efficiently identifying and responding to bird activity along our power lines is critical to preventing service disruptions and protecting wildlife,” said Amy Ruszala, advanced scientist, Transmission Planning, and avian expert. “This all-in-one app simplifies the reporting process and saves a lot of time. Now, employees can report a variety of avian issues with just a photo and a few taps on their smartphones.”

The app, which was designed exclusively for FirstEnergy by an outside environmental firm, has been rolled out first to Penn Power and JCP&L employees. Historically, these utilities experience the most reported bird activity.

“As we gain more experience using it, we plan to launch the app across our entire service area over the next year,” said Amy. “Ultimately, it will be available to any FirstEnergy employee who might find it useful, not just environmental and utility workers. The more people we have reporting these issues, the better we can take action to remedy them.”

When available, employees will be invited to self-register to receive the app. Watch for more information as the app is rolled out across FirstEnergy in the months ahead.

Better for Birds and Customers

Over the past two years, the company has made great strides enhancing its avian protection efforts. We’re using drones to inspect bird nests and providing labor, equipment, funds and materials to install nesting platforms​ a safe distance from electrical equipment. These efforts also are designed to reduce power outages caused by nesting birds.