Week 123 | May 24, 2016 ~
I have long wanted to write on this subject having spoken with several different customers from this sector whose needs are unique greater than the usual facility or campus. Municipalities and local city governments are an enigma unto themselves. Not because they are puzzling as a municipality/city, but because each one is completely different from the other. They are all different sizes and have different responsibilities, landscapes, environments and budgets. What’s important to one might not be important to another. Also, what’s important to a city in the United States might not be the same as a city in Canada, Mexico, Israel, Asia, Africa or India for that matter. How do you address all of the intricacies that face today’s modern and diverse municipalities?
Having just come back from the Electric Power Conference in New Orleans, this subject came up quite a bit since several Municipalities Supervisors, City Managers and/or contractors that work with them stopped by the booth. In addition, we will be holding a seminar and summit in Longview, TX addressing these issues on June 22, 2016 “The Lightning Protection Summit for Water & Wastewater Facilities, Towers & SCADA systems” . So I thought the subject was timely.
If we think about the basic responsibilities of a municipality/city, we think public schools, fire protection and emergency services, law enforcement, jails, sanitation and sewer service, public transportation, public libraries, and/or water resource management. But In addition to these, there are cities which manage their own utilities and electric power in association with SCADA systems, communications and a whole host of other integrated systems that depend on sensitive electronics which cannot be disrupted without a huge impact on the citizens and businesses which they serve.
When people think of a city, I doubt they realize how comprehensive the responsibilities, oversight and systems are. As different as these entities might be, the one thing they have in common is that they need to stay operational and cannot be knocked offline. All of the aforementioned services depend on electronic equipment these days, so if it goes, so does the system for however long it might take to get it up and running again and ultimately so does the service.
Lightning is a major culprit for creating mayhem in a municipality/city environment. Considering all the vulnerabilities there are and services which are managed by the local government. There are always going to be unknowns in protecting operations and assets, but if you know that you can prevent one threat from occurring it is best to incorporate protection into your plan.
Because each situation is different we have designed proprietary solutions addressing the areas of concern for our municipal customers for many years across the country from Florida to Texas, up to Colorado and beyond. We have solutions in Canada and across the globe. Especially when it comes to the utilities, waste water facilities, communications towers and SCADA Systems, although in some cases far beyond that for emergency management and additional communications and data centers, including 911 call centers.
If you think about all the areas of a municipality that are susceptible to a lightning strike and how that can affect a city from operating it is mind-blowing. Not only can it be an inconvenience, but it costs businesses thousands, and depending on the business, sometimes millions of dollars. If emergency services are impacted, people can die, buildings can burn down, and traffic can be halted. So much depends on a municipality being operational. There are risks that cities have to take and then there are risks that they don’t. Being struck by lightning is not one of them and many cities have realized this over the years. Why leave yourself vulnerable? It is a risk you don’t have to take.
If you are a city manager or involved with any of the aspects of city operations you should be looking into a full lightning risk mitigation plan for all aspects of your city. Not just surge, but one that includes proper grounding/earthing, as well as direct strike protection for extremely volatile and high-risk areas. Not only should you be considering this course, but you should also be extremely wary of collecting a strike into any of the environments mentioned in this article. The dependence on electronic equipment has made it extremely important not to collect a strike into one’s environment or even within close proximity. This will slowly deteriorate your equipment and overtake your budget.
Be prudent and aware. If you are overseeing any of these services, it’s time to take a good look at what needs attention and implement solutions which will work. In the long run, it will save you time, money and valuable resources.
As always if you have any questions or need additional information please feel free to contact me at LightningDiva@lecglobal.com
Be careful out there! Visit www.lightningprotection.com for all your lightning protection needs. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn for more information and updates as well as some great photos.