Monday, November 14, 2011

Crisis Connections

What the flood situation in Thailand has shown once again is the power of social networks to fill the void of communication.

In recent times the role of Facebook, Twitter, and Blackberry messenger has been shown in good and bad light.  The same methods that released the Arab Spring have also been used to coordinate the London Riots.

Love them or loathe social networks are here to stay and what the floods show is how they keep people connected.  Some will say there should be no communication void if central government is on top of its game, but with a situation that can change so rapidly, and over such a large area the traditional press certainly struggle to keep the public up to date.

Twitter and Facebook have been saviours for those of us outside Thailand at this time.  With roving reporters and connected people like Patee Sarasin and Jetrin out doing and tweeting many more people are kept up to date.

Equally useful is the ability to time shift news updates through TV channel websites and YouTube.
All very good, but what would happen if this had happened in a country that had buried its infrastructure in the ground, like the UK?

With no power ant the access circuits under water many people would but unplugged! What brings this home is the pending roll out of fibre to the home/premise programmes.  This IP access platform is being touted as a replacement for internet, phone, and TV.  If this was swamped how would people keep current?

It certainly became an issue in Christchurch after the earthquake there.  Broad loss of power and severed phone circuits kept people in the dark.  Here the regional government and the crisis management agency still guided people towards agency websites! Sometimes you have to go old school, but maybe increasingly go aerial...

With government led initiatives knowing that some people will have to be served with fixed-wireless solutions maybe all access should this technology.  This would allow for more access options (mobile, net book, TV) without the need for in-premise equipment that a fibre option relies on.

All the more important when you consider the flood and fire events in Australia and the ever present earthquakebrisk in New Zealand.  What is the plan for these governments to meet the crisis connection need?

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