ExecutiveChronicles | What Is Joint Use Management Software? | The logistics and engineering governing who is responsible for utility poles and communication infrastructure is, predictably, complex. While the average person probably doesn’t spare that infrastructure a thought as they go about their day, they do depend upon it a great deal, for everything from electricity to cellphone service. That’s why most utility poles are pulling double-duty, at the very least, and often doing a lot more than that, as utility and telecommunications providers must work together in order to ensure these services are offered without a hitch.
Pole joint use management software is the key to successfully managing utility pole joint use infrastructure. In this article, we’ll explain exactly what this software is and how it’s used to coordinate operations in a given geographical area.
What Does “Joint Use” Mean?
Utility poles are usually owned by one company but utilized by several others to deploy much-needed services in the public right-of-way. All these entities must work together to coordinate the use of the utility pole. This collaborative effort is known as pole joint use.
For joint use to be safe and effective, all parties facilitating the attachments must be able to communicate consistently with one another. This includes the owner of the utility pole and all the attackers who offer their services using that pole.
Constant communication about many aspects of the joint use process is vital to public safety, including engineering code compliance (e.g., NESC), maintenance, power usage, attachment permits and contracts, and much more. If this communication isn’t organized properly, it can lead to major problems, such as overloaded utility poles, which can ultimately cause systems to fail and lead to public safety hazards, power or internet outages, and customers being deprived of critical services.
Joint use starts with ownership. Usually, it’s a single entity that owns a utility pole and the surrounding land. This is typically the local electric power utility, though telecommunications companies own some poles, particularly in the eastern US. The attacher must rent space on the utility pole from the owner. And it’s unlikely that they’ll be the only tenant on that pole.
The complexity of the joint use process has skyrocketed in the last few decades as the widespread availability of broadband has necessitated the need for utility poles to be used by more and more clients. Many new communication providers have entered the market over the last 20 years, complicating processes, communication, and liability.
If you wish to attach to an existing utility pole, you’ll first need to notify the utility and draw up an attachment agreement with the pole owner while providing proof of liability insurance. Then you have to draft a pole attachment request for each pole. This request will include the type of equipment your service will be using, pole loading impacts, and power requirements or other details. Pursuant to local laws, owners are usually not allowed to “play favorites.” That is to say, they are not allowed to refuse reasonable attachment requests unless their utility pole is structurally unable to handle the added equipment.
Once the request is approved, the installation process can begin. This requires communication with the owners as well as other attachers to the utility pole, to avoid problems. This coordination must also extend to the contractors working on the utility pole and anyone else involved in the process.
Problems That Can Occur with Poor Communication
Poor communication leads to all sorts of problems and can ultimately cause delays or even failures in service: overburdened equipment is one of the largest and most common problems. It’s often caused by a failure of the entities involved in the joint use process to coordinate with each other, and it can lead to costly problems for everyone involved, including the risk of property damage, outages, and injury to nearby people. If more equipment is attached to a utility pole than it can handle, it cause it to fail, such as in a windstorm, for example, and this is a common problem if important work orders and other communications are missed.
Regular audits of utility pole facilities are also important since bootleg attachments can happen with sloppy communication and untrained contractors. This can be a major issue, particularly regarding emergency power restoration. For example, if a snowstorm takes out your power and the utility crew heads to the pole at 1:00 a.m., finding unexpected, unpermitted equipment may cause significant delays to the power restoration until they engage the attachers or procure the right equipment. When people’s power or internet is out for an extended period, it becomes personal.
Illegal use of these utility poles is more common than you might think and can go unnoticed if regular audits are not performed and the results are shared with every relevant entity.
Streamlining the Process
Advances in technology mean joint use is more relevant and multifaceted than ever before. However, technological advances also mean that there are more resources available to owners and attachers.
Enter joint use management software, an automated system that helps to streamline every step of the process for owners, attachers, and contractors. A software program such as Joint Use 365 is an absolute must for utility pole owners since it helps to ensure that each aspect of the joint use process is carefully organized.
Best Software for the Job
Joint Use 365 is integral to every step of the process, starting at the beginning with contracts and attachment requests. Every element of attachment permitting is carefully tracked, managed, and automatically communicated, from surveying, approval, and construction inspection.
Joint Use 365 software also handles the management of pole joint use after permit approval. This means everything from installations to maintenance and ownership changes, which must be carefully monitored to avoid costly problems. Attachment and make-ready billing are also rendered fast and easy with this software, further freeing up your company’s much-needed resources and ensuring you are fully compensated.
The software automatically sends reminders about contracts, bills, insurance, and other important requirements. This helps ensure everything occurs correctly and on time, keeping this complicated process running smoothly.
The right joint-use software can simplify otherwise confusing and complicated processes, freeing up your joint-use staff to focus on other critical tasks. Contact the Joint Use 365 team to request a demonstration and get started today.
Photo by José M. Alarcón on Unsplash