Network outages and climate risk prevention

Apr 15, 2024

Natural disasters cause havoc wherever they are. There are so many things people must think about when it comes to preparing for, surviving, and rebuilding after natural disasters. One thing people should not have to think about is being able to pick up the phone and contact first responders, family, and friends. Unfortunately, that has been the case for so many of these recent disasters.

Communications is almost always the first to go during a disaster. People need to be able to communicate with family, friends, and first responders. On Maui, thousands of people on the island went without cellular service during the worst of the August wildfires preventing them from contacting emergency response teams or their friends and family. Most recently, Hurricane Idalia’s 90 mile per hour winds and flooding caused power and network outages impacting nearly 300,000 homes.

Preventative measures for existing towers:

Frequent site inspections are vital for assessing towers and ongoing safety measures. These inspections are crucial for preserving firebreaks and removing any vegetation around the tower site. Proper training of maintenance crews is just as important to ensure they are ready to handle emergencies whenever they may occur. Post-maintenance monitoring is also important to ensure there was no damage to a site during an inspection. Regular monitoring of sites also deters the threat of vandalism and maintenance of winter weather that may accumulate over time.

Video surveillance is an easy way to monitor towers. One of the leading causes of tower damage is vandalism, but video surveillance can be even more beneficial. With the help of the latest technology, video systems can spot and detect wildfires sooner and contact those who need to act. Video surveillance has the potential to save money and lives.

Considerations during new tower construction

Prior to construction of a new cell tower factors like location, building materials, and arrangement of essential components on the site all influence how climate risks could affect a tower. Some factors to consider when wanting to reduce fire risk include:

      • Building with concrete
      • Increasing tower site dimensions
      • Incorporating gravel barriers on all sides of a site
      • Burying power lines and fueling tanks

Proactive due diligence options for telecom

In addition to taking proactive measures like those listed above, continuing due diligence will keep you aware of anything that may hinder a tower’s ability to perform during an emergency. Thus, giving you the ability to take necessary steps to fix, with the help of EBI, any issues that may be found in the process.

NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) Reports and Regulatory Compliance

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which outlines mandatory environmental compliance and regulatory guidelines, ensures environmental regulatory compliance, and minimizes the potential negative environmental impacts of a project. EBI offers an extensive range of services specifically designed to assist with NEPA compliance. Through NEPA screenings, environmental assessments, wetland surveys, and more, EBI helps clients meet these national guidelines. Our due diligence team has completed tens of thousands of NEPA screenings and environmental assessments nationwide helping clients make informed decisions that are best for them and the environment.

Climate Risk Assessments 

Climate risk assessments (CRAs) are a cost-effective way for companies to identify potential risks to telecommunications property from climate stressors including flooding, wind (hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.), heat stress, water stress, drought, wildfires, and earthquakes. Our team can not only identify risk, but to also provide follow-up site analysis and assessments to develop mitigation strategies and design plans so you have one team from start to finish. 

Phase I Environmental Site Assessments 

Phase I environmental site assessments (ESAs) are reports that provide disclosure on possible or existing environmental contaminants on a property site or its surroundings. Phase I ESAs are a great tool to gain a comprehensive understanding of a telecom property. 

Importance of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) for telecom 

Cailtin Garvey, Associate Project Manager for ESG, stresses the impotence of building with climate resiliency in mind, “It is important to be aware of how climate-related risks can impact your business, including your network, infrastructure, and investor relations, and how resilient your business is to those natural hazards. Natural hazards have correlated to increased damage and financial repair costs. Additionally, investors and regulatory agencies, such as the SEC, are pushing to increase the requirements on sustainability and climate-related disclosures. At EBI we help ensure that your telecommunication operations are resilient and operational during any natural disaster – when communications are most essential.” 

Conclusion 

Whether its hurricane force winds, flooding, or fires, cellular carriers and internet providers need to be prepared to protect towers and infrastructure to ensure the wellbeing of its customers and the ability of first responders to do their jobs in times of crisis. 

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