Blackout Mapping in Cambodia

Urban Voice, a Phnom Penh-based crowdsourcing initiative, has mapped the blackouts which have become frequent in the city and other parts of Cambodia. In the past two months, Urban Voice has received over 110 reports of power cuts with some districts experiencing ten-hour long power cuts.

Last May 22, a power failure in south Vietnam plunged Phnom Penh into darkness. Vietnam provides Cambodia with some 40 percent of its power supply. The massive blackout sparked online discussion about the country’s power supply situation. Citizens are demanding explanation about the recurring blackouts in recent months.

Although power returned around 8pm, Phnom Penh’s residents remain disgruntled. The mass outage follows a month of severe power cuts around the city, resulting in extensive socio-economic costs due to their unpredictability.

Blackout mapping in Cambodia. Image from Urban Voice

Blackout mapping in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Image from Urban Voice

My Sovann of Urban Voice presented the mapping result to Electricité du Cambodge, the country’s electricity provider:

The issue at stake here is thus not that power cuts occur, it is their unpredictability. Not knowing when, where, and for how long power cuts will take place, imposes socio-economic costs on businesses, organisations, and individuals. These could easily be avoided if Phnom Penh residents knew when to expect power cuts, and would hence be able to make alternative arrangements.

Urban Voice urges the company to publish the schedule of the power cuts:

Here’s our message to the Electricité du Cambodge (EDC): Publish the Power Cuts, or give us a better explanation for why disclosing a schedule is supposedly “impossible.”

Image from Urban Voice

Image from Urban Voice

Here are some reactions on Twitter about the blackouts in Cambodia:

@CarrieJeanneJ Longest blackout in my Cambodian history. I'm sitting on our roof with a (slight) breeze,listening to geckos “geck-o”-ing&crickets chirping.

@C_Panhavion and it's raining, let it pour down and frozen the earth. damn hot recently since the electricity usually cut off.

@Sokly543 Electricity is cut off. I can't do anything now


  • […] by Mong Palatino · comments (0) Share: Donate · facebook · twitter · reddit · StumbleUpon · […]

  • […] By Mong Palatino,  May 30, 2013 […]

  • Juan Mario Inca

    Really interesting Mong, thanks​!

    ​Given your interest, I think that you (and the other readers here) would be really interested in some recent research that I have come across that theorizes about crowds and such similar phenomena.​ ​

    It’s called “The Theory of Crowd Capital” and you can download it here if you’re interested:

    In my view it provides a powerful, yet simple model, getting to the heart of the matter. Enjoy!

  • Lee Solomon

    How do you define “blackout”? Is it it simply the power going off? Is it the power going off for a certain duration? Because if it’s the former, there are blackouts every day, or very nearly, at least in my current neighborhood and my old neighborhood (Santormok and Psar Moan Ang), which, according to this map, don’t experience blackouts. Sometimes our power goes out for only a few minutes, sometimes for several hours, but this occurs daily, as a general rule.

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