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Commercial Lightning Protection

The original XkyFire Lightning Services product. The entire network was conceived out of a near-miss lightning strike against a rope-way operation. The question naturally arose the following day that asked how the response and preparation for such an event could have been handled better. Part of the answer revolved around better awareness of lightning. The moment that strike occurred there was blue sky overhead, but a storm many miles away and out of sight behind obscuring mountains. Operators could not be expected to respond to something they had no way of knowing about.

Or could they? Suitable instrumentation that sensed, recorded, mapped, and generated alerts based on proximity, recency, frequency and lightning type was simply what was required. But at that time there was no such system accessible for commercial use.

Enter XkyFire.

A North America-Wide network of sensing antennas connected together through the internet now provides coverage in all areas from the mid-Atlantic to Hawaii, and from the North Pole to Ecuador. Co-located with GPS receivers that stamp hyper-accurate time records on each strike sensed, the detectors report to data collection servers that assemble and categorize the data in a live database continuously, second to second, twenty-four hours every day.

The XkyFire application then interrogates that database to map the location of strikes and compare strikes as they are occurring to the location of client sites. Where there is proximity and recency and frequency near a client site an alert is automatically generated. If the frequency reaches a certain threshold, alerts are automatically upgraded to warnings. Alerts and warnings are sent to eMail addresses and, more directly, to user cell phones by way of SMS text messaging. All users can also view the live real-time map to gain the situational awareness they need to make informed decisions about operational safety during severe weather events.

Any commercial operator has two imperatives with respect to storm operations. Worker safety, and continued production. In some examples too there is an obligation to protect visitors to your site if the operation is public facing, as with an outdoor market or something like a car dealership.

<Lightning Alert - AirsideOps - +CG Lightning has been sensed 6147.2m away on 237.20 – 06/21/2020, 16:37:42h>

In the context of worker safety, advance warning needs to be sufficient that they can safely abandon work underway (e.g. fuelling an airliner), move to a position of shelter while the storm passes through then, with a minimum of delay return to the task and complete the job. Airport operations are one of the best examples of work that comes with some pressure to get the job done and with the given standard that it will be done safely.

<LIGHTNING WARNING- AirsideOps – Dangerous +CG Lightning has been sensed near AirsideOps  – 06/21/2020, 16:44:17h>

The second imperative, production, is a tougher question because resuming production operations should not compromise anyone’s safety or well-being.  This is where XkyFire really shines because all of the subjective guess-work that has existed in the past as to when it is safe to “get back out there” is removed. With XkyFire, there is a “line in the sand”, and there is either recent lightning on this side of it, or there is not. The question is absolutely black and white.

When no dangerous positive cloud-ground lightning has been observed within the last 30 minutes anywhere within the alerting ring (that the client defines the radius for!), then an all- clear message is immediately transmitted to the cell phones of all users associated to that site.

<Lightning CLEAR- AirsideOps – No +CG Lightning has been sensed within the last 30 minutes near AirsideOps  – 06/21/2020, 17:21:52h>

And production restarts. Totally objective, and as safe as could be defined under a commercially reasonable best efforts basis. Also, recorded and documented for later recall as required. If the question arises at meetings the next morning (Why did you guyz all stop working for an hour and a half last night??), then show the boss how the decisions were made by bringing up the map and pointing at all of the nearby lightning activity the XkyFire system recorded and mapped.

Any outdoor operation with workers exposed to the elements will benefit from improved safety from automated sensing and alerting services, to reduced down time secondary to storm related safety stops. Airport ramp workers, rail-yard operators, highway maintenance or safety workers, linesmen, tower painters, window washers, highway patrol, dock workers. Given the extent of offshore coverage that is available, maritime work aboard ships or work platforms can also see a significant improvement in efficiency and safety with the XkyFire service. If you work outside, we can help keep you safe.

For Commercial operations with more expansive warning needs, Dual and Tri-Alert sites with multiple approach rings are also available. Begin building your situational awareness early in the day with alerts for a Distant Alert Area, then alerts for an Approach area, then Alerts and Warnings for the Close operations. You will never again be surprised by the sudden arrival of a thunderstorm.

For operators with more than one location, Multi-site accounts allowing for up to twenty different locations, all reporting and tracking and mapping and alerting simultaneously are available.

Stop depending on an odds forecast for your region and start getting objective, real-time information and alerts that are specifically relevant to you and your operations. Certainly you are aware of the forecast each day and typical content within it such as “60% chance of thunderstorms this afternoon”.  Then, you need to keep an eye on the sky for the rest of the afternoon. With XkyFire, you will be alerted automatically whenever a lightning storm is approaching. No need to worry about it. No need to even watch for it. The XkyFire system will take care of that for you.

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