Disaster communication. Lessons from the Tohoku disaster

Communications save lives during disasters

Disaster communication: keynote at the 7th KCC Korea Communications Conference, Seoul

Communications save lives during disasters, and are essential for survival, for “situational awareness” (= to know what is going on), for decision making, and business continuity. Nobody likes to experience a disaster, but when disaster strikes there is no time, and decisions taken within a split-second can decide about life or death. Preparations need to be taken far in advance.

Victims and responders need “situational awareness” to take the right decisions

Japan’s continuing disasters have put Japan’s very advanced mobile and fixed line communications systems to an extreme test from which other countries can learn. Currently, Japanese operators are learning from the experience and are hardening communications and broadcasting systems. Understanding communications during disasters is essential for business continuity.

While traditional communications broke down due to overload, social networks showed resilience

It has been reported that mobile communications peak demand during the March 11 disaster increased to about 50-60 times normal volume, leading to a break-down or switch-off of mobile voice communications, and to an extended near-break down of mobile email.

Twitter and social networks showed strength and resilience, as did internet based communications. The internet was initially designed in the 1950s to provide communications during nuclear war.

The Korean Communications Commission invited me to talk about “Communications in disasters” at the 7th Korea Communications Conference in Seoul on May 12, 2011.

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