Lights Out!

Perth 5th February 2013

I am not an American Super Bowl fan, but when I read that last Sunday’s grand final was interrupted mid match by a lighting failure, I obviously took notice …forget Beyonce and her performance, …it’s the lights! According to public comments made by the venue management on the lighting failure, the system detected as per design specifications that there was some “bug” (overload?) in the system and proceeded, also as per design specifications, with an automatic shutdown to isolate (read switch off) the affected area. After a 30+ minute interruption the “fault” was rectified, lights restored and play resumed. Rated as the single highest live TV sporting event in the world with an estimated more than 100 million viewers, the last thing you want is a failure of the main component of the game for viewers to see (Light!) to be failing. An auxiliary back up system prevented the field from going totally dark…imagine the panic for the near 75,000 spectators. Apparently also all the escalators, concourses so prominent credit card machines stopped working, bar some minimal emergency floodlights…The networks covering the event seemed to have their own back up and I read that at no time did they lose any of the event’s coverage. Considering that one 30 second spot of commercial on the night was about U$ 3.8 Million, they better not! There is talk that the extravagant lighting and video effects from Beyonce’s show may have been at the origin of the problem as the failure occurred shortly afterwards….LED’s again?

As lighting designers designing for emergency situation is also part of our scope, while not always prominently spelled out. The trouble for us as lighting designers only is that we do not control the electrical installation and often it is the power structure that causes the breakdown. Our task is more to allocate the lights to be used in emergency situations and keep a tap on the electrical loading needs for our lights, but the actual trigger and power management is part of the electrician’s scope. I think it all brought everyone back to earth…we are human after all and failure is part of life! We design for people and that includes emergency situations!

Light Watch 4-22: Lights out at the New Orleans Superdome…btw who won? :)

05. February 2013 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: light watch, lighting and culture, lighting applications | Leave a comment

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