Ask the Expert

Open source and natural disaster

Would the communications situation in New Orleans after Katrina been less drastic if telecommunications and Internet access were based on an open standard and open source software?

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I don't think so for two reasons: the physical nature of the problem and access. Open source software wouldn't have helped the fact that physical equipment (like cell phone towers) were rendered inoperable or that the government decided who would be allowed to restore service.

Amateur (short wave) radio, however, is meant for exactly this type of problem. Find out more at the American Radio Relay League site. You can also check out this story about how amateur radio was used during the hurricane disaster.

This was first published in October 2005

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