Last week's storm, Sandy, left more than a million people without connectivity, or even electricity.

 

On September 11. 2001, the attack on the World Trade Center in New York put the largest stress on a telephone network ever. According to CNN Money’s David Goldman, in the article What O.J., Katrina, and 9/11 did to AT&T's network, “People from all over the country tried to contact relatives and friends, and placing calls to Washington and New York was a near-impossibility for much of the day. Virtually every point-to-point network connection in the country was overloaded.”

 

During Katrina in 2005, mobile networks were overwhelmed with phone calls in and out of New Orleans. Plus, the storm destroyed cell towers in and around New Orleans, greatly diminishing network availability. 

 

Prevention and Recovery Planning

 

So how do we avoid overloading, or worse yet, completely losing connectivity in emergencies? And what about if electricity goes out? Not surprisingly, creating a plan helps:

Network recovery requires well-defined plans for:

 

  • Preventing connectivity loss – System redundancy enables system recovery. Redundancy means bringing secondary resources into service on short notice when primary resources are unavailable. A redundant system could backup data to an out-of- area data center or via cloud computing can ensure valuable data stays safe and accessible.
  • Reestablishing connectivity, even on a temporary basis – Identifying and repairing connectivity to critical systems are the first steps to recovery. Piggybacking onto other technologies, even older ones like land line connections, can help maintain communications during this period.
  • Keep or have access to a power generator. In many states, a company location cannot legally stay open without a generator to keep the lights or a heating/air conditioning system up and working.

For more information on keeping the lines of communication open during a network outage, see the Federal Communications Commission website, at http://transition.fcc.gov/pshs/emergency-information/tips.html.mann