On 22 May 2020, Tropical Cyclone Mangga swept across the West Australian coastline. It was heralded as a once-in-a-decade storm, due to the extensive area it affected, extending from Karratha to Esperance. Wind speeds reached up to 126km, while in places, 45mm of rain fell, causing flooding. 

Damage to infrastructure was extensive and Ventia's telecommunications client suffered a mass disruption of their sites due to blanket power outages. Lines were down, power poles toppled. Utility providers struggled to restore supply, staggering their crews to cope with demand. Restoration was naturally hampered by the weather.

Vital coordination role

During any mass disruption, Ventia's National Operations Centre (NOC) is responsible for putting strategies in place that will ensure specific sites are supported and communication lines maintained. This is a vital coordination role, as these key sites holdup essential telecommunication backbones across all states and territories. 

In the case of Cyclone Mangaa, the scope of the deployment to support recovery efforts was challenging as such vast area of Western Australia was affected. With more than two hundred sites off the air, the NOC used every technician and contractor available to deploy multiple trailers of generators and field staff battled adverse weather conditions to ensure generators made it out to sites most "at risk". 

Supporting sites and prioritising safety

With years of partnership experience and a strong knowledge of mission critical assets, the NOC stayed in touch with technicians and client representatives throughout the recovery, relaying information in real time, supporting crucial sites and prioritising staff safety. An average of 30 field staff were working in journey management at the NOC at any given time during the outage to ensure the whereabouts of all technicians were known, to manage their routes, monitor and support their safety and wellbeing.

Throughout the mass disruption, the NOC managed 203 tickets of work, physically deployed 50 generators, and repeatedly refuelled those generators at 23 sites. Around 35 technicians were enlisted to ensure that network communications were maintained. Whilst the high volume of sites affected meant that full site coverage was not possible, all critical sites were attended to ensure network integrity - all without incident.

The NOC has managed seven mass disruptions in 2020 alone, including two in Western Australia. While the mass disruption in WA was unusual because cyclones generallyrun their course before May, it was representative of what the NOC has come to regard as 'the new normal'. That is extreme weather occurs more frequently, and our processes become more streamlined to reflect this.

The Ventia NOC orchestrated a successful field campaign throughout a major storm event and our client was delighted by the result, benefitting from our experience and expertise in disaster recovery.