Guest Blog: “Been hit by Doris? Call 105!”

JRC 1We get so used to our electricity supply being there whenever we need it that we forget what to do when it goes off for more than a few seconds. Perhaps that’s because on average you’ll only experience a power cut once every two years, and then it will only be off a little over 40 minutes.

But if it doesn’t come back on, what do you do?

Fumble in the dark for a telephone directory or one of those phone cards with important numbers on (if you’re my age) –but most of you will grab your smart phone or tablet.

Being all telecoms specialists, you’ll all know now that you just ring ‘105’ and get straight through to the electricity distribution company – the one that fixes the wires and answers the phone in seconds, not the supplier who sells it to you and may take a little longer to answer phone calls.

But what happens if the phone is dead because the local mobile phone mast is on the same power supply as your home and has failed as well?

TV won’t work, broadband router has no flashing lights, and your cordless phone’s lifeless. If only you could remember where that old wired phone was – the old one with the rotary dial, you’d be ok.JRC2

February 2017 - Storm Doris moved across the UK bringing gusts of up to 94 mph accompanied by heavy snowfall across Scotland.

STORM DORIS IMPACTS

Doris – for we name our storms now hit overnight and into the morning of 23rd February. Doris, as befits a lady of that 

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name, was far more powerful than Conor who preceded her and Ewan who followed. The centre of the storm moved 

through Northern Ireland, then across northern England. The storm brought heavy snow to Scotland during the morning rush hour causing widespread disruption.

The highest wind was in North Wales where a gust of 94 mph was recorded at Capel Curig.

Transport was disrupted from the M80 in Scotland to the Dartford Crossing - the Port of Liverpool was closed for a time. There were delays and cancellation to train services and flights throughout the day, and .... 50,000 homes lost their power.

RESTORATION

So how is power restored when nature does its worse? Telecoms to the rescue!

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Even as faults develop, fast acting teleprotection detects the faults and isolates power before damage is done. Then, automatic monitoring and switching systems rapidly reconfigure the electricity network where possible to restore as many people as possible within a few minutes. Where damaged infrastructure cannot be bypassed by remote switching, repair crews have to be despatched – using wireless telecoms of course. And then the tricky bit: after repair the power has to be safely restored with further communication between repair crews and control room.

Without resilient telecommunication systems, electricity would be off for a lot longer, which is good news for most people – but not candle makers I suppose?


Guest blog by Adrian Grilli, Managing Director, Joint Radio Company for techUK's "Good to Great Connectivity for the UK" Week.

Get involved at #ConnectedFuture. More information is available on techUK’s Communications Infrastructure Programme.

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