There are many monitoring systems available for remote automatic monitoring of Obstruction Lighting Systems (OLS). But how do you choose the best one to meet your needs? If you already have a monitoring service, are you sure they are providing the service and value you need?
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The FCC is encouraging owners of towers taller than 350 ft. AGL to take advantage of lighting changes passed by the FAA, to both help save migratory birds and reduce operations costs.
“Lighting changes on towers taller than 350 ft. AGL involve extinguishing L-810, non-flashing, side-markers and do not require any additional cost or fees,” states a message from the FCC to tall tower owners. “Lighting changes on towers 150-350 ft. AGL involve reprogramming non-flashing, LED, side-markers to flash synchronously with flashing L-864 lights.”
“New tower lighting schemes should now follow the revised guidance, and operators of towers with the old lighting system should submit plans explaining how and when they will transition to the new standards,” according to the FAA in 2016.
Testing conducted by the FAA determined that birds are not attracted to the flashing lights of towers but are attracted to the non-flashing, steady-burning L-810, side-marker lights. In response to these findings, the FAA determined that extinguishing the L-810, non-flashing lights on towers taller than 350 ft. AGL and reprogramming L-810 lights on towers 150-350 ft. AGL, is safe for aviation. In December 2015, the FAA changed its red tower lighting recommendations to systems without non-flashing L-810 lights and said that minimizes bird collisions by as much as 70 percent and on towers taller than 350 ft. AGL, reduces tower construction, maintenance, and energy costs.
Extinguishing the non-flashing lights on existing towers taller than 350 ft. AGL can be completed without climbing the structures, according to the FCC. Similarly, the elimination of continuously burning security lights on the buildings under towers will minimize bird attraction to the site. If security lighting is required, the FCC advises using motion sensor triggered security lighting under your tower.
Here’s how to file the necessary paperwork to process the change. A “lighting deviation” can be used to extinguish or eliminate L-810 steady-burning side lights from an existing registered tower taller than 350 ft. AGL and to reprogram L-810 steady-burning side lights to flash on registered towers 150-350 ft. AGL.
What to do:
- File a Marking and Lighting study electronically with the FAA (https://oeaaa.faa.gov/oeaaa/external/portal.jsp) requesting the elimination or omission of steady-burning lights (L-810) or requesting that steady-burning lights flash with Form 7460-1, Notice of Proposed Construction or Alteration. Designate structure type: “Deviation from Red Obstruction Light Standards.”
- Once the FAA has approved the request and assigned a FAA Study Number, file Form 854 with the FCC via the Antenna Registration System (ASR). Please select “MD – Modification” and choose the appropriate FAA Lighting Style. The FCC typically will approve the application and modify the registration within 24 hours.
- Once the lighting change for a tower has been granted by the FCC via ASR, the L-810 steady-burning side lights can be extinguished on towers taller than 350 ft. AGL and reprogrammed to flash in concert with L-864 lights on towers 150-350 ft. AGL. Extinguishing L-810 lights and reprogramming lights are typically accomplished in the tower transmission building and do not ordinarily require climbing the tower. Per the FAA requirements, flashing red lights should flash at 30 FPM (+/- 3 FPM).
January 9, 2018 via InsideTowers.com
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Tower lights not working at a broadcast station in Arkansas got the FCC’s attention. The Enforcement Bureau sent a Notice of Violation to Bobby Caldwell owner of East Arkansas Broadcasters, Inc.
Checking its Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) database, officials find the broadcaster has received four NOTAMs since February. The latest will expire at the end of December and the agency says it has not received any indication saying the lights have been repaired. The tower is (Registration 1038728) in Jonesboro, AR, according to the FCC’s ASR database.
“Replacing or repairing of lights, automatic indicators or automatic control or alarm systems shall be accomplished as soon as practicable,” writes Ronald Ramage, regional director of the bureau in the notice. Unless reasons provided by East Arkansas Broadcasters, Inc., prove otherwise, a duration greater than seven months is beyond the bounds of “as soon as practicable.”
The broadcaster must respond within 20 days, explaining how the violations occurred, actions taken to correct them and prevent the tower lights from going out again. The response will help the agency determine what, if any, enforcement action is required to ensure compliance.
Story via InsideTowers.com
Let’s face it, the cost of painting that tower to stay in compliance with FAA rules is expensive and time-consuming! The pain of scheduling transmitter downtime, scheduling the crew, ensuring proper disposal of hazardous waste and a plethora of other issues just make doing this task something no one wants to deal with.
DON’T DO IT!
Just upgrade your obstruction lights to the latest in LED technology.
As widespread power outages continue in Puerto Rico, about 92.5 percent of cell tower sites in the U.S. territory aren’t working, down slightly from 95.6 percent on Saturday, according to data submitted by communications providers to the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS). Indeed, it appears there has been “minimal improvement to the communications networks in Puerto Rico since the Hurricane departed,” according to the agency. DIRS is now activated for all counties in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).
Of the 78 counties in Puerto Rico, 37 (down from 48 on Saturday) have 100 percent of.their cell sites out of service, according to Sunday morning’s data. More than 75 percent of the cell tower sites are not operational in all counties.
In the USVI, 61.3 percent of cell sites are not operational, down from 66 percent on Saturday.
The two emergency call centers in Puerto Rico appear to be working normally, according to the primary service provider. In the USVI, the St. Croix 911 Call Center has been reported as completely down. FEMA has reported significant damage to the building. The St. Thomas 911 Call Center is unable to retrieve certain location information for wireless and VoIP callers.
AT&T sent planes with restoration equipment, (including generators) personnel and humanitarian supplies to Puerto Rico and the USVI over the weekend; additional flights are slated for the next few days, a carrier spokesman told Inside Towers.
“We are coordinating with local and federal authorities to support recovery efforts,” said spokesman Jeffrey Kobs. “We are working to keep our customers connected and to restore services to areas where storm damage, power outages, and flooding have interrupted service.”
In the USVI, AT&T set-up a portable cell-site near the airport in St. Thomas, and has restored some power there and on other islands. The carrier plans to bring in additional resources.
AT&T is automatically issuing credits and waiving additional fees to give unlimited data, talk, and texts to AT&T wireless customers and unlimited talk and texts to AT&T PREPAID customers in Puerto Rico and the USVI through September 29. The company is also extending payment dates for impacted AT&T PREPAID customers with voice and text service through September 29.
Sprint extended its waived text, call and data overage fees for Sprint, BoostMobile and Virgin Mobile customers in Puerto Rico and the USVI through September 29. Fees will be proactively waived during the specified timeframe. “As authorities and our teams on the ground assess the situation,” stated Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure.
Story taken from Inside Towers.
One observant citizen in northeast Ohio spotted a light not working atop a 150-foot high cell tower and notified the landlord—Stow-Munroe Falls City School. AT&T had already been notified about the light failure, and the episode prompted a local newspaper, the Stow Sentry, to explore cell tower light outages and how they’re repaired.
“The cell tower behind the high school has a broken aviation/navigation light at the top. When that happens an alarm goes off and AT&T is notified,” Mark Fritz, the director of operations for the Stow-Munroe Falls City School District, told the Stow Sentry. “The FAA was then notified and they have rerouted air traffic for the next two weeks until AT&T can get a technician out to repair it.”
As tower companies well know, the FAA is involved in the tower development stage very early, as the agency gets a say on whether or not the cell tower will interfere with aviation safety, even before the FCC issues permits. The FCC has and will issue fines from the $10,000-to-$25,000 range if a tower light is out and repairs are not made immediately. Even when tower lights are functioning properly, pilots are aware of cell tower locations and avoid the structures in their flight plans.
“As a rule of thumb, we avoid the towers anyways,” David Poluga, the Kent State University Airport manager, told the Stow Sentry.
An anonymous complaint led agents from the Philadelphia field office of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau to WGBN’s door in 2014. Several tower violations have now tripped up Pentecostal Temple Development Corporation, owner of the AM in Lincoln Borough, Pennsylvania. The FCC cited Pentecostal for failing to light and paint its tower and for not informing the FAA of the lighting outages.
“Such structures present a significant public safety risk, especially to passing aircraft,” stated the Commission in its decision. “Pentecostal has previously been warned that it must repair the required lights and repaint the antenna structures to bring them into compliance with the Commission’s rules.”
Pentecostal owns four towers at the Lincoln Borough site; when agents returned to the site in 2016, they found faded and chipped paint on two structures. Also, the top level beacon on the tower registered under ASR 1026648 was out, and one of the two side steady burning obstruction lighting globes was out on the tower registered under ASR 1026650. Under agency rules, “any observed or otherwise known extinguishment or improper functioning of any top steady burning light or any flashing obstruction light, regardless of its position on the antenna structure, not corrected within 30 minutes” must be reported to the FAA.
After the owner neglected to bring the tower into compliance after repeated warnings, the agency determined WGBN’s owner is apparently liable for a $25,000 fine. Pentecostal has 30 days to appeal or pay.
Call it a love of nature. Call it new FCC guidelines, either way large tower owners are adapting their lighting infrastructure and, according to the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), it is having a positive impact on our feathered friends. New guidelines for communication tower lights spell out how tower operators can save birds and energy without sacrificing safety, according to the ABC, which bills itself as “the Western Hemisphere’s bird conservation specialist.” The FCC and FAA say the guidelines strongly encourage tower operators to turn off or reprogram steady-burning red or white lights in favor of flashing lights, which are less harmful to birds yet still alert pilots to the towers’ presence.
The FAA and FCC have officially recognized that: birds are attracted to non-flashing red lights, such as L-810 side-marker lights; and birds are much less attracted to flashing lights on towers, such as L-864 and L-865 lights.
The FCC guidelines state: “As of December 4, 2015, FAA no longer permits red non-flashing lights on new towers over 350 feet. It also asked owners of existing towers to submit plans for changing their tower lights. The FCC and FAA have developed a process by which registrants may extinguish non-flashing lights on existing towers over 350 feet AGL. After September 15, 2016, towers between 150 and 350 feet AGL will also be expected to have only flashing lights.”
Steady burning lights on communications towers disorient migratory birds at night, Christine Sheppard, ABC’s Bird Collisions Campaign Manager said. As of late October, operators of more than 750 tall towers nationwide already updated their lighting systems under the new guidelines. Making the switch, the Conservancy said, saves energy, reduces operating costs, and reduces bird collisions substantially.
As many as seven million birds a year die in collisions with towers and the guy wires that support them according to The Conservancy studies. “By extinguishing the non-flashing lights on towers, we can reduce night-time bird fatality rates by as much as 70 percent,” Sheppard said.
“We wish to thank the operators of the 700-plus towers that have already switched their lighting to help reduce mortality of birds,” Sheppard said. “But there are still some 15,000 tall towers across the U.S. with outdated lights that are dangerous for birds. We are asking all tower operators to make this cost-saving and life-saving switch to help migratory birds.”
The FCC and FAA are expected to release specifications for flashing lights on towers 150 to 350 ft. AGL soon.
The FAA is calling on owners to eliminate the use of non-flashing lights on all towers. “New tower lighting schemes should now follow the revised guidance, and operators of towers with the old lighting system should submit plans explaining how and when they will transition to the new standards,” the agency said in a news release.
Read FAA Federal Lighting Regulations here.