FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Friday, September 02, 2005

Going Low-Tech in Katrina's Wake

Rescue workers in New Orleans and other sections of the Gulf Coast devastated by Katrina are learning the limits of technology. Waterlogged computers, severed data lines, downed cell towers, and an overall lack of electricity are making most communication devices useless.

The few working radios are running out of battery power, with no way to recharge them. The New Orleans police are using a single radio band for their radios, and many rescue teams are resorting to using drivers and runners to transmit messages. However, the Red Cross is working to get satellite phones into the region, and BellSouth has restored phone service to 150,000 customers (out of about 1.6 million) as of Thursday.

Four years after 9/11, we are still figuring out how to cope with widespread communications breakdowns. With technology being so ubiquitous and relatively inexpensive these days, developing contingency plans for keeping life-saving communications online should be a priority.

Source: AP (Excite)