Featured in newly launched Politico Space newsletter: How Lessons Learned from Hurricane Maria Can Improve Disaster Preparedness and Response
Germantown, MD, DATE, 2018—Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES), the global leader in broadband satellite networks and services, today issued a new white paper, Lessons from Disaster Relief - The Importance of Communications Resiliency and Preparedness, outlining specific emergency preparedness recommendations ahead of the 2018 hurricane season. Featured in the inaugural issue of Politico Space newsletter, it documents lessons learned after being one of the first organizations on the ground providing communications support in Texas, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands following one of the worst hurricane seasons on record.
‘There is an urgent need for emergency preparedness plans to include communications networks,” said Tony Bardo, Assistant Vice President of Government Solutions at Hughes. “Terrestrial communications alone are vulnerable to storm damage, making satellite connectivity an essential part of resilient networks needed to support first responders and critical decision-making across multiple agencies.”
Hughes makes specific recommendations for network infrastructure preparedness centering their message on network path diversity. In Puerto Rico for example, Hurricane Maria compromised the 90-year-old Guajataca Dam while the island was without power and terrestrial communications. By connecting a previously installed Hughes VSAT to a power generator, government officials were able to call agencies in the U.S. and implement an immediate evacuation order for an estimated 70,000 people. In this instance, path diverse satellite connectivity helped avert a potential catastrophe.
Specific recommendations outlined in the white paper include the following:
- Deploying Path Diverse Network Backup Channels – Satellite systems provide seamless backup connectivity for critical networks like 9-1-1. Commercial retailers, gas stations and other businesses are also strongly encouraged to utilize path diversity to keep credit and debit point-of-sale (PoS) transactions online.
- Storing Emergency Systems – Prepare and identify locations where fly-away satellite terminals can be safely stored. Having systems readily available for rapid deployment are critical to support urgent communications for response and recovery missions.
- Increasing Awareness and Government Funding – Lack of awareness about the need for network path diversity and lack of government funding both contribute to a deficiency in readiness. Government agencies should look to adopt path diversity and resiliency especially ahead of hurricane season. This would ensure less time spent trying to procure and deploy communications solutions during the chaos following a major emergency.