Mobile communication networks are one of the major pillars for disaster management. They have an important function in preparedness, response and recovery in disaster conditions. Mobile networks that can support effective communication during emergencies are essential, as people and first responders rely on mobile technology to communicate and use data to share information, images, and videos.
Mobile networks play a key role in minimising the loss of life, loss of revenue and infrastructure damage by ensuring that the population is kept well informed beforehand.
Major events require planning and design to ensure that the right priorities can be established along with the right equipment and training needs. Sometimes, for operators, following national requirements established by regulators might not be enough.
Official public safety systems are the most important networks during emergencies and disasters, as those networks allow emergency responders to gather information about casualties, coordinate rescue activities, and provide damage assessment.
First responders require access to instant and reliable voice communications to ensure that all the parts involved share and receive the same information from different sources right away. For example, this allows entities to make decisions on how to place physical resources to minimise risks to responders and victims.
The telecommunications networks play an important part during the recovery phase. Once the physical infrastructure has been repaired or replaced, and the network is not congested, the ongoing relief efforts and eventual recovery can continue.
Non-governmental organisations use the internet to collect funds, help victims, save lives, and keep people informed.
Telecommunication failures during disasters
The telecommunications infrastructure evolves with time and new services. For example, hospitals are becoming more dependent on network services due to increased usage of the internet to save and protect lives during crises. However, when events such as earthquakes, floods, storms, hurricanes, landslides, forest fires, terrorist attacks, bombs or wars strike, physical infrastructure may get destroyed or damaged, and thus, communication services like mobile networks, internet, TV networks, radio networks and fibre optic systems are disrupted.
Types of telecommunication failures during disasters:
- Physical destruction of network components: These types of failures tend to be more severe and last longer since it takes time and funding to repair or replace network components.
- Disruption in supporting network infrastructure: Service disruptions caused by physical destruction of the network infrastructure can delay relief efforts for days.
- Network congestion: When a natural disaster occurs, the first instinct is to contact friends and family. However, large volumes of calls, messages and internet usage simultaneously can result in an overloaded telecommunications network, which means that critical calls may not get through.
In 2011, there was an earthquake, which struck the United States in Virginia measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale. The damage in the infrastructure was minor, but it had a big impact on the mobile networks. During the first hour after the earthquake, first responders and residents were unable to make calls on mobile networks.
Network communications design strategy for crisis
Making the right technology investments requires careful consideration of factors including population density in cities and other regions, geographic and environmental considerations, and historical trend data.
An emergency communications network combines the use of the communications satellites. These have the objective to manage real-time information exchange in disasters as well as provide a technological platform useful for early warning, mitigation, and forecasting of disaster events.
Omnitele's approach in planning transformation to new communications technologies is to evaluate both the costs and benefits of different alternatives. Identifying the detailed requirements of the different critical-communications user groups is important to plan the most suitable solution for effective critical communications. One nationwide dedicated solution may not satisfy all the different requirements, and additional local solutions may be required to complement a baseline critical communications network. On the other hand, the resilience requirement may require a dedicated fallback option in addition to network capacity leased from public operators.
How can Omnitele help?
Omnitele assists critical communications user organisations in making the Mobile Broadband transformation by providing:
- Strategy Consulting services aimed at evaluating alternative technology solutions and identifying the best fit to the organisation’s network performance and capacity requirements, while optimising the associated costs,
- Design Services aimed at assisting the organisation in MBB network planning and implementation according to set performance and cost targets,
- Monitoring services to audit the performance of the MBB network against set targets,
- Optimisation services aimed at improving observed substandard MBB network performance.
Subscribe to our newsletter
get the latest news delivered directly in your inbox