BRCA Bytes Q1 2020

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Welcome to the Q1 2020 issue of BRCA Bytes for Registered Cablers

What a crazy start to the year! I don’t think Australians have ever had their lives so disrupted as this year – bushfires, floods, COVID-19. And we’re only a quarter of the way through it!

While I don’t want to take up too much of your time talking about COVID-19 (we’re all tired of hearing about it in the news), I did want to convey to you what BRCA is doing about it, so you know how to contact us if you need technical or regulatory support, or need to update any of your registration details.

The BRCA office is open. In fact, I’m writing this article to you from the BRCA office in Cheltenham, Melbourne right now. The office will continue to be open unless we’re specifically instructed by Government otherwise. That means you can call us on 1800 306 444 or 03 9583 3445 for any assistance. The only thing is, I’m in the office on my own, practicing social-distancing. None of the other BICSI or BRCA staff are in the office – they’re all working from home. So if I don’t answer your call, it just means I’m on another call or participating in a webinar (more on that later). Just leave a message on our answering service and I’ll contact you as soon as possible, usually that same day.

I don’t expect our office to be closed by COVID-19, nor should most of your activities as cablers. That’s because telecommunications, data cabling, ICT infrastructure – whatever you call it – is an essential service. I’m sure many companies and individuals have anxiously contacted some of you, desperately needing the internet capabilities fixed or improved in their houses with better cabling or Wi-Fi so they can work from home.

In this issue of BRCA Bytes, we’ll provide some information about COVID-19 that’s relevant to our industry; but we’ll also address some other important topics like fake documentation, lead-in cabling and education opportunities. We trust you’ll find some or all of the articles worthwhile reading.

During this challenging global pandemic, we hope you and your family stay safe. Please adhere to government and medical directives to minimise the spread of COVID-19 so we can get back to ‘normal’ as soon as possible.

One final thought about great Aussie heroes – the firefighters and rescue workers during the bushfires and floods, and the healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. All of them courageously fight immense challenges that threaten their wellbeing and very lives to protect the lives and wellbeing of all Australians. If you are one of these heroes, we sincerely thank you. And if you know, work with, or are related to any of our healthcare workers, please frequently thank them – better still applaud them – for their great acts in helping saving thousands of lives and livelihoods.

Paul Stathis
CEO, BICSI Registered Cablers Australia

BRCA Statement Regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The safety and well-being of all registered cablers, BRCA/BICSI staff and the industry as a whole is of utmost importance to BRCA/BICSI. Our office is actively monitoring the situation surrounding COVID-19 around the world and is following the federal and state government directives about hygiene, social-distancing and activities.

Since millions of Australians are suddenly having to work from home for self-isolation, the importance of cabling and ICT infrastructure has come to the fore. It is an essential service because people need to still communicate safely – be it for productivity or just for their own mental health.

As such, we anticipate that most of you will still be working, or at least remaining active in industry activities like education, quoting, helping clients, tidying up accounts, etc.
Currently the BICSI office in Melbourne is open and staffed by one person to answer phone calls and emails, while the rest of the staff are working from home. So we are functioning business-as-usual to support the needs of BICSI Registered Cablers. Many of you have recently called the BICSI office and been pleased that someone answered the phone to immediately assist them. We welcome any cabler to contact us for assistance in regulatory or technical matters by Phone on 1800 306 444 or Email: info@brca.com.au

Unfortunately BICSI has been affected by COVID-19. We have had to cancel a number of educational events this year including our Australian 2020 conference and all of our Q1 and Q2 seminars held around the country. Many BICSI registered cablers have attended these seminars in the past and value their educational benefits.

However, to maintain the provision of technical and regulatory education, BICSI has now commenced a fortnightly web seminar program, which you are most welcome to attend. We held two pilot web seminars recently on GoToWebinar and WebEx platforms. These were enthusiastically attended by BICSI members, so we have now committed to regular fortnightly web seminars on both platforms. Some of the topics we’re covering are the latest cabling and technology standards; Wi-Fi 6; WLAN heat-mapping; Datacentre power; and SCEC/T4 cabinet security requirements. Go to www.bicsi.com.au/events-and-conferences/up-coming-events/ to review topics and to register your attendance.

Additionally, many industry organisations have recently started offering their online courses free or discounted, to assist the cabling industry increase its knowledge while perhaps at home in self-isolation. We have compiled a list of some of these courses and you can them listed in this newsletter.

We are constantly monitoring government and health official announcements and guidelines to assess the status of the COVID-19 pandemic. While our aspirations are to provide education and networking opportunities for our members, our primary concern is their health, safety and well-being, so we will only reinstate our physical events once we have the confidence that our members, our industry and our communities are no longer at risk. Above all, we are committed to facilitating educational opportunities for our members, professional development opportunities (CECs) for our credential holders and various means for our members to network with each other and the industry at large.

Lastly, we wish to remind all registered cablers that, in times like these, our knowledge and skills as ICT professionals come to the fore. As communities and businesses increase their call for self-isolation while endeavouring to operate ‘business-as-usual’ , the dependency on reliable ICT infrastructure intensifies. Please stress to all your clients the vital service our industry provides in delivering real solutions in these challenging times.

Free & Discounted Online Cabler Training from BICSI and Other Organisations

With so many people around the world being forced to work from home due to COVID-19 lock-downs – including the ICT industry – many companies are offering their online training courses for free or at discounted rates. This is a great way to not only increase your knowledge, but also retain your sanity while perhaps being stuck at home.

Below is a list of online courses from various industry organisations including non-profit associations and commercial companies that we’ve come across recently who are offering free and discounted online courses: ·

 

Topics of courses that are free include:

  • cabling design for intelligent buildings, healthcare and school facilities; IoT; data centre physical security; trends on copper connectivity; trends in optical fibre connectivity; pathways for cabling infrastructure; single pair cabling for IoT; DAS; and indoor wireless to name a few.

Topics with 30% discounted courses include:

  • remote access, virtualisation, and network services; IoT; cloud computing fundamentals; project management; and network storage and security to name a few.

Free Avixa (professional AV association) online courses till 12 June – www.avixa.org/avixa-stands-with-the-av-industry

  • Topics include: building, installing, configuring and testing AV systems to name a few.

Free online supplier courses from:

Free online industry webinars:

  • Cabling Installation and Maintenance mag (US) – www.cablinginstall.com/webcasts – including fibre cleaning and inspection standards; installing, terminating and testing high-density fibre; applications beyond 100G; and more.

If you’re able to, we encourage you to avail yourself of some of these courses. Also let your colleagues and customers know about these courses. Many of them are in need of quality ICT education and perhaps have the time to acquire it now.

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Fake Documents Are Fraud – Go Directly To Jail

This article, written by Paul Stathis CEO BICSI South Pacific, was first published in ECD magazine April 2020 – Vol. 19, No. 1; www.ecdonline.com.au/ and reprinted with permission from WF Media

If seeing an article with this title in a ‘technology’ column seems weird to you, it’s even weirder for me to be writing about it. But sadly our industry has recently encountered what amounts to fraudulent activity, so I feel compelled to write about it.

In a recent meeting between all the cabling registrars – BRCA (BICSI), TITAB, ACRS (NECA), FPAA and ASIAL – and the telecommunications regulator – the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) – it was brought to our attention that some unscrupulous people were presenting fake cabling registration cards on worksites and falsifying application documentation to become registered cablers.

Fake documents, no matter how trivial they may seem to be, amount to fraud.
An RTO whose documents were falsified has already reported the matter to the Police, while the registrar who had false documents presented to them in applications will be referring the incidents to the Police and naming the individuals.
While only a handful of people would stoop so low as to falsify documents, such incidents can put our overall industry in a bad light, in spite of the good work done by the vast majority. Do you recall the impact of the ‘Infinity cable’ disaster a few years ago? While that cable represented only a small percentage of the overall electrical cable installed in Australia, it did massive damage to the reputation of the industry – all because non-compliant and dangerous cable was imported into Australia without legitimate safety documentation. The importer was fined a paltry $33,000, but the enormous cost of remediating the collateral damage was mostly borne by the retailers. Sadly the reputations of many electrical contractors were severely damaged through all of this.
Another sad reminder of the consequences of falsified documentation is the Lacrosse Building fire in Melbourne’s Docklands in 2014. A small balcony fire was propagated up much of the building’s façade by combustion within the aluminium panels that clad the entire building.

According to a City of Melbourne report on the fire (ref: https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/sitecollectiondocuments/mbs-report-lacrosse-fire.pdf):

 

The MFB [Metropolitan Fire Brigade] has identified in this case that the product used in the construction of the lightweight wall was a product called Alucobest. This product does not have technical specifications readily available on its website for supply in Australia.

“A review of the documentation lodged by the Private Building Surveyor with Council has highlighted:

  • That the documentation does not provide sufficient detail to determine if the wall was
  • designed to be non-combustible or not,
  • There is no evidence within the fire engineering design report as to whether this wall was
  • considered to be not non-combustible.
  • No specific documentation lodged by Private Building Surveyor with Council, proving that the wall system was approved or accredited.

The MFB have also obtained a sample of wall cladding material for testing. The findings of the testing have determined that the material and wall cladding system is not non-combustible when tested in accordance with the Australian Standard AS1530.1.”
Unfortunately it took a major fire to highlight erroneous documentation. If it had been qualified from the start and compliant product used, perhaps the fire would have been contained to the balcony, rather than spreading to much of the building and causing millions of dollars in damage.

Some of you may say that communications cabling isn’t in the same category as fire safety. On the surface, that may be true. But when you recognise that most, if not all building services are going digital and being internet-connected, the importance of communications cabling will, in some instances, be more important than fire safety. In a healthcare facility for example, patients’ lives are dependent upon monitoring. In smart buildings, digital technologies can instantly detect and enunciate fires, with occupants being quickly guided out by sophisticated egress guidance. Autonomous vehicles will move people much safer than human-driven vehicles. But what if a cheap non-compliant connector fails to deliver PoE (Power over Ethernet) and a powered heart-monitor fails? What about an untrained ‘lackey’ terminating cables so badly that it fails intermittently and a fire detector doesn’t work at the worst possible time – when there’s a fire. The connector may have a bogus sticker on it claiming compliance that fools the installer. And the ‘lackey’ may have a bogus Registered Cabler card that fools the induction officer to get access to the worksite. But when things go wrong, the investigators – Worksafe, the insurer, or the coroner – won’t be fooled. Someone is always held to account. And if you’re the one who tried to fool people with fake documentation, you’re in for a world of trouble.

When asked for a legal opinion, Forensic Engineer Peter Turnbull qualified that fake documents can’t classified as fraud until proven so, but should be called “negatively augmented” or “negatively enhanced” documents. But if it’s alleged that you issued “negatively augmented” or “negatively enhanced” documents, you’re likely to go to court. And if you lose, then it’s fraud. We call this a “business-ending event”. Depending on the severity of the incident, it could even be a “life-destroying event”.

In a 7th March Sydney Morning Herald article, NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler stated that “making fraudulent declarations, [can get] up to two years in jail.”
In reviewing these incidents of “negatively augmented” documents, the ACMA stated that while assessing fraud was outside its remit, such documents are in fact statutory documents and therefore compel individuals to be truthful. In other words, if you fraudulently present yourself as something you’re not, you are in serious breach of the law. And if charged by the police, you’ll end up with a criminal conviction. So, is it really worth trying to fool people with fake documentation?

We’re presenting this information because most of us in the ICT industry are professional and want to do the right thing. We certainly don’t want unscrupulous ‘cowboys’ tainting our industry’s reputation with fake documentation, simply to make a few extra bucks profit with cheap non-compliant products or lowly paid unskilled labourers. All of the registrars are vigilant in checking documentation to ensure individuals legitimately qualify to be registered cablers. We’ve been on-the-front-foot to report suppliers selling illegal copper-clad aluminium cables to the regulator. And we actively communicate to the wider community the importance of engaging qualified registered cablers for dependable communications cabling work. That’s why so many induction officers demand presentation of registration cards before allowing access to the worksite; and why so many consultants call for evidence of registration in their tender documents.

With the surge in Internet of Things (IoT) and PoE applications in smart buildings and smart cities, and the greater reliance of digital life-safety and medical systems on connectivity, the importance of quality cabling will only intensify. So much will depend on the quality of your workmanship and the quality of the products you choose to use – lives may actually depend on what you do and what you choose. There is no place for fake documentation in our industry. The registrars won’t tolerate it. Nor should you.

Duty of Care with Telstra Plant

Telstra recently issued a statement concerning work being done in the vicinity of telecommunications plant, noting the ‘Duty of Care’ that must be observed by all, including cablers working on adjoining premise cabling. As a knowledgeable cabler, you could also share this information with people from other services (eg. plumbing, electrical, hydraulic, construction, excavation) that you may work with, who need to know about working around Telstra plant.

Telstra warns that its complex network requires expert knowledge to interpret information, to identify and locate components, to pothole underground assets for validation and to safely work around assets without causing damage. If you’re not an expert and/or qualified in these areas, then you must not attempt these activities. Telstra will seek compensation for damages caused to its property and losses caused to Telstra and its customers. The 5 P’s to prevent damage to Telstra assets are listed below. Construction activities and/or any activities that potentially may impact on Telstra’s assets must not commence without first undertaking these steps. Construction activities can include anything that involves breaking ground, potentially affecting Telstra assets.

1. PLAN: Essential first step in preventing damage
You must have current Telstra plans via the DBYD (Dial Before You Dig) process. Telstra advises that the accuracy of the information provided by Telstra conforms to Quality Level D as defined in AS5488-2013. This means the information is indicative only, not a precise location. The actual location may differ substantially from that shown on the plans. Steps 2 & 3 below outline how to determine actual location prior to proceeding with construction.

2. PREPARE: Essential second step in preventing damage
Engage a Telstra Accredited Plant Locator (TAPL). To be able to trace and identify individual subsurface cables and ducts requires access to Telstra pits and manholes. Only a TAPL is authorised to access Telstra network for locating purposes. A TAPL can interpret plans, validate visible assets and access pits and manholes to undertake electronic detection of underground assets prior to further validation. All Telstra assets must be located, validated and protected prior to commencing construction. If you’re not authorised to do so by Telstra, you must not access Telstra network or locate Telstra network. All Telstra Accredited Plant Locators are required to have DBYD Locator Certification.

3. POTHOLE: Essential third step in preventing damage
All Telstra assets must be positively identified (validated), by physically sighting them. For underground assets, this can be done by potholing by hand or using non-destructive vacuum extraction methods (‘validation’ is defined in AS5488-2013 QL-A). Underground assets located by electronic detection alone (Step 2 above), are not deemed to be ‘validated’ and must not be used for construction purposes. Some TAPL’s can assist with non-destructive potholing for validation purposes. If you cannot validate the Telstra network, you must not proceed with construction. Telstra will seek compensation for damages caused to its property and losses caused to Telstra and its customers.

4. PROTECT: Essential fourth step in preventing damage
Telstra assets must be protected to avoid damage from construction activities. Minimum working distances around Telstra network must be maintained. These distances are outlined in a more comprehensive document found at www.telstra.com.au/consumer-advice/digging-construction

5. PROCEED: Only proceed when the above steps have been completed
More details on each of these steps that involve working around Telstra plant can be obtained from various sources, depending on what you’re looking for:

Telstra also offers free Cable Awareness Presentations. If you believe your company would benefit from this, contact Network Integrity on Ph: 1800 810 443 or
E: NetworkIntegrity@team.telstra.com
All damages to Telstra Network must be reported immediately:
Swift Economic Recovery Expected After COVID-19

We‘ve been confronted with a lot of negative economic consequences of COVID-19 lately – some of the worst single-day losses in stock-market history, massive jobless claims and the steepest and fastest decline in global economic activity on record.

But international market research firm Statista has compiled information that shows an optimistic bigger picture.

While all these figures are alarming, there is one thing that separates the economic crisis brought about by COVID-19 from past crises. As opposed to say the financial crisis of 2009, the current downturn wasn’t caused by something fundamentally wrong with the financial system or the overall economy, but by the measures necessary to contain a public health crisis.

When asked about the frequently drawn comparison to the Great Depression of the 1930s, former US Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke told CNBC that the current crisis “is really much closer to a major snowstorm or a natural disaster than it is to a classic 1930s-style depression,” which leaves hope for “fairly quick rebound.” That is, if the aid package passed by US Congress last month proves effective in keeping affected businesses and households afloat during the shutdown period.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) most recent World Economic Outlook fuelled hopes of a ‘V-shaped recovery’. The IMF revised its GDP growth forecast for the global economy from 3.3% to -3.0% for this year, but expects a return to growth in 2021. That’s assuming, according to the IMF “that the pandemic fades in the second half of 2020 and containment efforts can be gradually unwound.” The IMF is calling for effective policy measures to be taken to limit the economic harm done by lockdown measures, thereby predicting a V-shaped recovery for the world economy. The contraction this year is expected to be severe, but the IMF carefully predicts a quick recovery in 2021.

In economic terms, a ‘V-shaped recovery’ is broadly defined by a sharp decline in output, employment or any other metric measuring the health of the economy, followed by a quick and sustained recovery. It is different from an L-shaped recovery, in which the economy slumps for a longer period of time.

A ‘V-shaped recovery’ is what economists are hoping for in the current COVID-19 crisis. Trying to contain the spread of COVID-19, countries around the world went on more-or-less complete lockdown, resulting in a sudden drop of economic activity. Businesses operating in the travel, tourism and leisure sector lost their entire income stream practically overnight as strict social distancing measures were put in place, forcing airlines to ground their fleets, hotels to close doors and restaurants to pivot to takeaway service. But since there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the economy, many are hoping that the recovery will be just as swift as the downturn itself, once the outbreak is under control or a vaccine is found.

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Have you checked out www.registeredcablers.com.au yet?

If you’re doing any cabling that has the potential to be connected to the NBN, you’ll need to visit this site regularly to keep up with the latest information on premise cabling, the NBN rollout and the technologies enabled by the NBN. You can also register there as a qualified cabler for consumers to contact when they need cabling carried out in the homes and businesses.

Click on the image below to visit the web site.