Having gone through the Christchurch earthquake a few years ago, and having worked as an emergency services operative for more than half my lifetime, I know only too well how critical communications systems are in times of disaster. After the Christchurch earthquakes in 2011, the cellphone networks were overloaded by concerned friends and family trying to make contact with people who may have been affected. While the emergency services communications channels stayed up, this was only partly through good management. Luck also played a part.
The reality is that communications, both civilian and emergency services, rely on traditional networks which are often overloaded or damaged in disasters. Haiti’s earthquake showed just how broken these systems can get in a disaster.