Real Time Video Tower Monitor
Source: UFTO
Date: 8/23/96    Record No.: 10399
Contact: Ed Beardsworth, 415-328-5670, fax 415-328-5675

Real Time Video Tower Monitor
A local company here in Silicon Valley has outlined this new concept and wants to see what the utility industry's level of interest would be.

Imagine that you could have a video camera on each and every transmission tower, sending real time images that would provide warnings about weather, forest fires, sabotage or other suspicious activity, and mechanical and electrical phenomena at the site. Sensor data could also be provided, such as temperatures, wind, stresses and strains, EM fields, etc.

This is a very different approach to maintaining, operating and monitoring equipment that rarely has a problem, but when it does, the consequences are large. Recall instances where storms have pulled down miles and miles of towers in remote areas where the only access is by helicopter. A decision to take the line out of service might have been possible, avoiding the shock to the rest of the system. Better yet, there may be things that could be done dynamically to minimize damage. At the very least, repairs could be undertaken with far better information about the problems at hand.

Instead of the usual periodic inspections and repairs, we're talking about real time monitoring. This hasn't been considered feasible to date (except for very special and isolated situations) because of the high costs and technical challenges, but suppose those problems were solved.

Clearly, this would have to be cheap and readily integrated into operations. The low power devices would not require grid connection--a small battery/PV panel would suffice. The technical details are highly proprietary at this point, but assume for sake of discussion that it really can be done cheaply and reliably.

Suppose it were offered as a service by a third party, who would install and operate the system and provide filtered or analyzed data and alarm condition warnings as appropriate.

The question is, would you be interested in this kind of capability? What would the value be? What would you be willing to pay for such a capability (e.g., $ per month per tower)?

Your reactions and those of experts in your company would be much appreciated.

Topics: T&D