Load shedding notification application EskomSePush went from 2,500 active users a week ago to over 400,000 users on Tuesday, co-creator Herman Maritz said.
This after embattled power utility Eskom, for the first time in history, implemented stage 4 load shedding on Monday morning, leaving up to 20% of the country without electricity. Around a third of Eskom’s 45,000 MW capacity is offline.
Maritz said the application is likely to reach 500,000 by the end of the week, when Eskom is reportedly set to suspend load shedding.
He said they’ve received some 1,400 emails every day since Monday, from three last week.
“Sorry, we’re not replying to all the emails anymore,” Maritz jokingly told Business Insider South Africa.
Maritz co-created EskomSePush with Dan Wells in 2014 while they were building banking apps.
“We wanted to know when load shedding was happening so that we could plan around it over our December holidays,” Maritz said.
“We laughed about making this simple push notification service.”
They originally used a service called PushBullet to send us notifications, and in 2015 - six weeks after launch - they had over 100,000 users.
“[We] peaked at around 250,000 active users before load shedding was suspended later that year,” Maritz said.
The app received awards at MTN’s 2015 App of the Year awards for both People's Choice and Breakthrough Developer App.
The application automatically detects and alerts users when load shedding stage changes occur. It provides detailed information of over 50,000 locations in South Africa.
“The system is 100% automated in terms of load shedding stage changes and push notifications,” Maritz said.
Maritz, who now works as a engineer for online Classifieds OLX in Germany, said the application was until recently fully funded by themselves, but they brought in a few ads to “keep the lights on”.
“I hate ads, and we’re thinking of different solutions, but Dan needs some cash flow to keep the app running,” Maritz said.
Wells added: “We enjoy keeping it running! It’s a rush!”
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