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  5. New International Standard for City Service Continuity against Disasters Issued

New International Standard for City Service Continuity against Disasters Issued

- Effort for minimizing impacts caused by electricity supply interruption in disaster situations -

September 23, 2020

Based on a proposal submitted by Japan, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) issued a new international standard for “electricity continuity systems contributing to city service continuity against disasters.”

Assuming the cases where city service operators refer to this international standard as a reference of the guidelines on Business Continuity Plans, the standard is expected to contribute to fortifying disaster prevention functions of cities and towns to be developed under the guidelines (i.e., helping such cities to secure the minimum electricity supply for providers of vital city services, such as medical care and public transportation).

1. Purpose of and background to the proposal

Large-scale disasters and other serious events may cause failures in electricity transmission and distribution facilities, and other equipment, and this situation may lead to emergency circumstances where cities face disruption of electricity supply from power grids, an essential element for maintaining city functions. Establishing a system for minimizing impacts caused by such emergency circumstances and for helping cities continue to provide vital city services even during such circumstances is indispensable to quickly and smoothly advance cities’ activities for recovering from impacts caused by disasters.

As global society is facing more serious damage caused by natural disasters and other events in recent years, Japan, as a country that has experienced such unprecedented disasters as the Great East Japan Earthquake in particular, has been stating the importance of disaster prevention measures, taking a variety of opportunities as seen in its proposal for the “Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction,” which was adopted by the United Nations in 2015, and it has been advancing efforts for this purpose. As part of these efforts, in the field of standardization as well, Japan has proactively been advancing international standardization of systems for minimizing impacts of disasters while taking advantage of its lessons learned from past disasters and knowhow on recovery from damages and reconstruction of cities.

Specifically, the Japanese Standards Association (JSA), to which the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has commissioned a project, formulated a proposal for the development of a new international standard for “electricity continuity plans (ECPs) and electricity continuity systems (ECSs) that contribute to improving city service continuity,” which focuses on electricity continuity as a function playing a central role in continuing a variety of city services. This proposal was submitted to IEC and, since September 2017, IEC has held repeated deliberations on the proposed standard with related member countries. As a result, in July 2020, IEC officially approved and issued a new international standard based on the proposal.

This standard is the first international standard stipulated by the IEC SyC Smart Cities, a body established in 2016 under the leadership of Japan.

2. Outline of the international standard

The newly issued international standard* requires city service operators (e.g., companies’ divisions responsible for facility management, companies engaging in management of commercial facilities and other buildings, and municipalities’ divisions responsible for management of public facilities) to consider cases where any earthquakes, floods, cyber terrorism and other events occur from a view point of business continuity plans (BCPs) and to stipulate their own ECPs, referring to and based on their BCPs, and also to stipulate requirement specifications for ECS to carry out the ECPs so that providers of vital city services (e.g., medical institutions, public transportation and distribution businesses) are able to secure the minimum electricity that they require. Moreover, the standard provides guidelines on basic matters, such as management of ECS and the types of information to be exchanged among respective service areas in each disaster phase (e.g., information on connection to power grids, expected period of time of blackout, and information on operation of reserve power sources and remaining power therein).

*Note: The official title is: “IEC 63152: 2020 Smart Cities - City service continuity against disasters - The role of the electrical supply.”

Examples of specific information to be described in an ECP and an ECS specification:

ECP: Methods for calculating a required capacity of power sources, procedures for separating from and connecting to power grids, procedures for refilling in-house power generators with fuel, etc.

ECS: In-house power generators, storage batteries, disaster information sharing systems (e.g., L-Alert), energy management, etc.

Explanations of the figures

Figure 1: This figure describes an ECP based on a BCP. Concerning this model, the standard stipulates that a city service operator should formulate a BCP-based ECP for important city services, e.g., medical care and transportation, and introduce a specification necessary for such services into an ECS.
Figure 2: This figure describes a model in which a city service operator aims to achieve its BCP targeting a wide area by linking multiple ECSs. Concerning this model, the standard stipulates the following three types of ECS linkage so that a variety of cities will be able to make use of ECSs for general purposes against some types of threats.

3. Expected effects

In future, when this international standard is referred to in developing BCP guidelines for city service operators worldwide or if financial institutions introduce the standard into their terms and conditions for loans against the backdrop of risk finance, the standard is expected to contribute to encouraging municipalities and companies to invest in infrastructure facilities and systems in conformity with BCPs and thereby fortify disaster prevention functions of cities and towns to be developed across Japan (i.e., helping such cities to secure the minimum electricity supply for providers of vital city services in disaster situations).

Furthermore, as the standard has a high affinity with specifications of facilities and systems in Japan, their introduction and adoption in overseas countries is expected to contribute to the promotion of international business and trade.

Division in Charge

International Electrotechnology Standardization Division, Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment Bureau