August 24, 2019 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Safety Risks of Dead Zones in Westside Canyons

By Keldine Hull

While a hike through the Santa Monica Mountains is an ideal opportunity to unplug and take a break from technology, lack of cell service throughout different communities in or near the mountains poses a safety risk. An ability to contact emergency services or to be alerted in the case of an emergency can have devastating effects, especially in areas more susceptible to wildfires.

During a Brentwood Community Council meeting on February 13, Daniel Branscome, Treasurer of the Mandeville Canyon Association addressed the lack of cell service in Mandeville Canyon and other Westside canyons.

“On the morning of December 6, a fire started in the Sepulveda Pass on the east side of the 405 and over a very short amount of time, spread and was almost 400 acres. A little over four years ago, a fire in almost the same area started a little further, closer to Mulholland and Sepulveda, and spread all the way to Malibu.” Branscome said, “This is something that’s really concerning for people on the Westside of LA. That is where these fires historically have started and because of winds, have spread to the ocean. Early morning on the 6th [of November], I got a text from one of my neighbors, ‘Did you get the alert?’ I said, ‘What alert?’ The city had used the amber alert system in our community, but because of cell phone service, I didn’t get the alert. On the 7th [of November], there was a structure fire on Mandeville Canyon Road. At 10 p.m., I’m standing on my front lawn looking at flames coming up from a house just below us on Mandeville Canyon Road. What I found out the day after that fire is that the person who saw the fire was driving out of the canyon. They saw flames, but they didn’t have cell phone signal. They had to drive all the way out to Sunset to place the 9-1-1 call to report the fire. We need to do something about cell access in West LA.”

Branscome explains that due to the unique geography of the Santa Monica Mountains, signal service is much worse than how it appears on a coverage map, an issue that affects thousands of residents in the area.

“Anyone who has ever driven up these canyon roads knows that you’re very likely to lose signal once you leave Sunset. You may reacquire signal once you get to your house, if you live up on a ridge line or if you get to your house and you have WiFi assist to provide signal. Most likely you’re in a situation where you’re going to have gaps in coverage. If you look at any of the cell provider maps of where they provide coverage, they all claim that all of this area has at least some coverage, and it’s just not true,” Broscome said.

While a tower may be present in any given area, obstruction between the tower and a device will result in a loss of coverage. Weather also plays a factor; the marine layer and cloudy conditions along the Westside also have an impact on coverage.

With advancements in technology, there are possible solutions and steps that residents can take to improve service in areas with weakened reception. According to Branscome, one solution is to reach out to carriers and encourage them to build additional cell towers within the boundaries of the Brentwood and Pacific Palisades hillside neighborhoods. In addition, AT&T’s Mark the Spot mobile app allows users to report dropped calls and other network issues. AT&T uses the feedback to better target network optimization and address issues that are concentrated in specific areas.

A second solution is to request that city planners install Philips’ SmartPoles, in collaboration with Ericsson, that help to boost broadband coverage throughout the city. According to Ericsson’s website.

“Los Angeles is the world’s first city to deploy Philips’ SmartPole street lighting with fully built-in 4G LTE wireless technology from Ericsson. The collaboration between Philips and Ericsson delivers on the latest Internet of Things (IoT) innovation and provides a double benefit to LA citizens: high quality, public lighting that is energy efficient, as well as improved network performance in dense urban areas.”

in News
Related Posts

Santa Monica Sees Nearly 9 Percent Spike in Part 1 Crimes

February 4, 2019

February 4, 2019

SMPD Chief Cynthia Renaud gives crime update. By Sam Catanzaro Over the past month, Santa Monica has experienced a string...

Man Charged for Murdering Mother

February 4, 2019

February 4, 2019

Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office files charges on Stephen Lloyd Fader. By Staff Writer The Los Angeles County District...

Fighting Fires, Tackling Homelessness, Saving Lives

February 5, 2019

February 5, 2019

The role of fire departments in 21st-century urban centers.  By Keldine Hull Do firefighters fight fires? Obviously, but most of...

SM City Defends Temporary Protective Status for Immigrants

February 5, 2019

February 5, 2019

By Staff Writer Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously at their January 22 meeting to join an amicus brief to...

SMPD Mounted Patrol Aids in Arrest

February 5, 2019

February 5, 2019

By Sam Catanzaro The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) carried out an arrest on February 1 with the aid of horses....

MDR Oil Well Explosion Sparks Debate

February 6, 2019

February 6, 2019

Jan. 18 incident sheds light on the dangers of oil wells in the city. By Tor Marom Discussions on public...

State of the City: Climate Change, Communication Among Challenges Facing Santa Monica

February 8, 2019

February 8, 2019

Mayor Davis delivers annual address. By Tor Marom This past Wednesday, the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce held its annual...

Santa Monica and ‘Big One’ Preparedness

July 8, 2019

July 8, 2019

All it took was 10-20 seconds for the 1994 Northridge earthquake to rattle Southern California in a way no earthquake had done before. Dozens of people lost their lives and thousands more were injured as the state reeled from a catastrophic event that cost billions in damages

Santa Monica Man Arrested for Attempting to Murder Girlfriend

February 12, 2019

February 12, 2019

Kevin Ferron charged with attacking girlfriend Anna Koosman. By Sam Catanzaro The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) have arrested a...

Fire Damages Santa Monica High Rise

February 13, 2019

February 13, 2019

Shores Apartments unit catches fire Monday night.  By Staff Writer A Santa Monica high rise by the beach caught fire Monday...

SMPD to Conduct Bike and Pedestrian Safety Enforcement

February 13, 2019

February 13, 2019

Citations and increased enforcement Feb. 15 and 18. By Staff Writer  The Santa Monica Police Department will be conducting bike...

Judge’s Final Ruling Orders Districts, Special Election

February 17, 2019

February 17, 2019

Final judgement calls for July 2 special election to choose new council.  By Sam Catanzaro  A final judgment has been...

Santa Monica Police Seize 29 Guns, Cocaine, Meth and Heroin

February 20, 2019

February 20, 2019

By Staff Writer  On February 15,  the Santa Monica Police Department’s (SMPD) Narcotics/Vice Unit along with SWAT served multiple search...

Adapting to Santa Monica’s Single-Use Plastic Ban

February 21, 2019

February 21, 2019

City’s disposable food-ware ordinance under effect. By Keldine Hull When an updated Disposable Food Service Ware Ordinance went into effect...

Council Votes Unanimously to Appeal District-Election Ruling

February 22, 2019

February 22, 2019

City of Santa Monica to appeal ruling that elections are in violation of CRVA.  By Sam Catanzaro On February 21,...