When Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005, mobilizing rapid response support efforts meant something very different from the traditional National Guard dispatch model. Ten years ago, when personal communication technology was in a much more rudimentary state than it is today, “Citizen Samaritans “used next-generation wearable technology to help save lives in the temporarily ruined city.
While trying to make sense of the natural disaster unfolding as the levies gave way, GPS technology, satellite communication, and even social media engagement have connected displaced Louisianans in unprecedented ways. and clueless to those eager to lend a hand, both locally and globally. It is in part thanks to technology that rescuers have been able to locate victims more effectively than ever before and provide assistance and shelter to those in need.
Eric Hellweg from MIT Technology Review, in an article providing a better perspective on post-Katrina relief efforts, noted that during this time of uncertainty and doubt, citizens across the country – and around the world – have attempted to “find out what they can do as individuals, [while meanwhile] technology companies have rushed to put technologies on the ground that could meet the urgent need for better communication between rescuers and public safety officials â.
This is a pattern that has since been repeated as technology has evolved. Today, networks and technology can contribute even more to security and disaster relief, as they did in the aftermath of the earthquakes in Japan in 2011 and Nepal in April this year.
BlueCosmo Satellite Communications recently launched its own independent mission with an array of dedicated business partners, providing cutting-edge technology to aid the global earthquake relief effort in Nepal.
Trained paramedics, doctors and emergency medical assistants were determined to travel from village to village and provide essential medical assistance.
Satellite communications equipment, with wifi hotspot capability that would allow subscribers to communicate over a single, secure network via their ioS or Android smartphones, assisted medical staff throughout the shipment of the BlueCosmo team.
âWe were often in makeshift camps in villages like Towal in Dadhing District,â Jeff Evans, who participated in the BlueCosmo-sponsored team mission, told me.
â70% of Towal was flattened, so many people had to go up the hill to find safer ground and shelter. There were multiple tremors occurring every day and night and the villagers were still very afraid to enter the structures due to their lack of integrity after the earthquake â.
âWhen, literally, the seismic changes were regular but each time unexpected, it was extremely important to stay connected to those who can help us, monitor the progress and protect us,â Evans said. âUsing SMS messaging, GPS signaling, wifi stability and quick social media engagement, all from a satellite phone – services that wouldn’t have existed years ago – .. My team and I were able to find more survivors, coordinate the establishment of tactical camps, and most importantly, stay in touch with our affected loved ones throughout.
Jeff is one of the real-life heroes who braved the elements and the risks to create tangible change. It was an honor for our team to participate in this campaign through our diverse portfolio of BlueCosmo satellite communications and to see the expedition team reap the rewards of technological advancements on the âfront linesâ of global challenges.
Together we must turn to technology to close the gaps in security and rapid disaster response. Without a doubt, it is technology that will provide the solutions that will allow heroes like Jeff and relief workers around the world to do their jobs and make our world a little better in these uncertain times.
Ken Grunski is a BlueCosmo satellite communications Strategic Initiatives Officer