Electricity is the backbone operating much of a modern city. It ensures safety through lighting and traffic signalling systems and enables communications with broadcasting, Internet and phone services. Medical equipment relies on electricity as do the electronic payments used in stores and banks.
But disruptions to the supply of electricity can occur. Hurricanes, earthquakes, severe droughts, and flooding are some of the natural catastrophes that are occurring more frequently and with greater intensity. These events can have a devastating impact on cities and the services provided to its residents.
The IEC has recently published IEC 63152 to serve as a best practice tool for city planners. Given the increased frequency of natural disasters and the destruction they cause, this standard proposes guidelines to sustain a variety of city services following a disruption.
According to Tatsuya Shimoji, who serves as Project Leader for the IEC SyC Smart city project team on city service continuity, “We need to ask ourselves: if such a big disaster happens, how can we, as a city, survive? This is the concept that we are trying to address.”
Continuity planning is a key factor to minimize cost and damage should critical infrastructure become inoperable. It ensures that potential disasters have been considered and local plans developed for the restoration of services. Because no city service can operate without electricity, getting the electricity supply to function again is the most urgent and important task following a disaster.
As Shimoji notes, “With this standard, we want to provide documented procedures to guide organizations and ensure the continuity of electricity supply to maintain city services. In order to secure services in a city at a minimum level during grid power loss due to a disaster, each organization which provides services should establish a business continuity plan to secure its electricity supplies appropriately.”
Planning and preparation is essential
Cities face many threats. Natural disasters, which can happen in any region of the world, have caused blackouts. Non-natural disasters, such as cyber and terrorist attacks, can also threaten a city’s electricity supply. And, as COVID-19 had demonstrated, we rely upon electricity for survival.
As Shimoji notes, “Disaster prevention is important. But, unfortunately, we cannot foresee when and where such a disaster will happen, nor can we completely escape the effects and damages caused by a disaster in reality. So, planning and preparation become very important tools to minimize the damage and keep city services available as much as is possible or to allow for the recovery of services as quickly as possible.”