Popular load-shedding app EskomSePush now has over 2.2 million users, a figure boosted by multiple bouts of load-shedding in recent weeks.
The free smartphone app – which is available for Android and iOS users – was first launched back in 2015 by co-creators Dan Wells and Herman Maritz.
The tool holds a database of load-shedding schedules from municipalities, making it easier for South Africans to be notified of when load-shedding will hit certain areas they select.
According to Maritz, there were around 1.59 million current installs of EskomSePush from the Google Play Store, while all-time installs from the Apple App store stood at just under 760,000.
The app has seen sharp growth since the start of 2021, with 120,000 new unique Android users and 20,000 additional Apple users.
Maritz shared the Google Analytics graph below, which showed the number of active users on EskomSePush over the last 90 days.
This increase came amid confusion over load-shedding schedules among Gauteng residents in recent weeks.
Johannesburg’s City Power changed its typical four hour load-shedding schedules to two hours without giving residents prior notice, despite the distribution utility previously stating it would not be optimal to reduce load-shedding times in this manner.
This was after Eskom announced it would be reducing four-hour load-shedding slots in Stage 2 to two hours for its direct customers across Gauteng.
The City of Tshwane also recently changed its load-shedding slots to run on even hours. Where a certain block would have been load shed between 13:00 and 15:30, this has been amended to 12:00 to 14:30, for example.
These types of changes have caught many South Africans unawares, and EskomSePush had to make changes quickly to avoid backlash.
Updating the schedules
MyBroadband asked Maritz how they manage to keep the schedules up to date, particularly with regards to how municipalities and Eskom have abruptly changed these in recent weeks.
“We rely on users reporting issues with the schedule and then us sourcing them on the municipality websites,” he stated.
“Dan [Wells] then spends a lot of time mapping them manually to Google Sheets and loading them to the system,” Maritz added.
He said that the bigger problem in handling this was that all the municipalities had their own particular way of presenting the data.
“We do wish that there was a simple template for all cities to use. We need one Excel sheet to rule them all,” he stated.
New chat feature
One of the major features EskomSePush added in the last year was chat functionality, which was necessitated by power outages outside of load-shedding.
“We get many emails saying ‘Your app sucks, you did not let us know about load-shedding’. It’s usually just a local outage and no load-shedding,” Maritz said.
“Now people can ask their community what’s up with the power, water, or even who is playing the trumpet [in the area],” Maritz said.
Helena gets it :) pic.twitter.com/IYSwGhcuea
— Herman Maritz (@hermaritz) April 12, 2020
EskomSePush is not available on many Huawei devices which no longer support GMS services.
Maritz said that although they want to launch a version of the app on the Huawei App Gallery, they rely heavily on Google tools such as Flutter, Firebase, and Google Maps.
“It’s not an easy thing to do if you’re just two guys doing this after work,” Maritz stated.
He added, however, that they were working on some new features which they hoped to launch soon.