This Little Light of Mine
Weekly Update, January 20, 2023
In south central Massachusetts, there is a town named Wilbraham in the outer suburbs of Springfield. The high school in Wilbraham, which has some 1,200 students drawn from a few nearby towns, had been in the same building since. In 2012, however, the town built a brand new, quarter of a million square foot facility.
In order to make the new school the best it could be, the building was designed and built with a “green” lighting system that used software to optimize the best times for lights to be on and off. The lights were controlled by an algorithm run on a server in the school. And it worked too. The school saved money on electricity and ran more efficiently.
In August of 2021 teachers began to notice issues with their lights. They were unable to dim or turn off lights on their own. The lights were just… on. All the time. The software had failed, the algorithm glitched. And the lights were on. All the lights, all the time.
And it has been that way ever since.
The lights at Minnechaug Regional High School are on 24/7/365. They have tried everything short of a complete power cut to turn off the lights. They initially tried to reach out to the company that sold and installed their system, only to find out that the company had been sold. Several times in fact. They finally got to the current company, only for that company to scramble to find someone who knew the system and could help. When the school finally did get someone to troubleshoot and diagnose the issues, delays in the global supply chain meant getting the specialized parts they needed to fix the system took months.
The school system is hopeful that the lights will be under control soon. But they are still waiting on parts.
Sometimes we make the decisions that feel right. We make them with the best information that we have