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In The Face Of Climate Change, Communication Must Evolve

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Disaster Communication: How Climate Change Made VoIP Necessary

The environment is changing. After centuries of rhythmic cycling, the encroaching forces of climate change mean an increasing number of natural disasters and long periods of recovery.

It’s not just that we’re seeing more disasters like hurricanes and tornados, but also that they’re touching new places, areas with no experience preparing for such events, and that’s changing how we think about disaster planning. And so we ask questions, such as “how do we transport food and water?” or “who will provide aid?” but we also ask, “how will we communicate when disaster strikes?”

Rethinking Communications

Because our phones go just about everywhere we go these days, most people assume they’ll have access to some form of communication no matter what. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case during periods of flooding and extended power outages. Entire regions go dark, and businesses and individuals alike need to make other plans. That’s where Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) comes in.

VoIP, a kind of multimodal communication system, is ideal for disaster scenarios because the protocol can be run on a phone or tablet, relies on limited power compared to computers, and can accommodate video, voice, and file transfers. In the face of disaster, that’s like having access to an entire office. Additionally, the best business VoIP offers long tail distribution providing higher degrees of access when other channels go down.

Preparing For The Worst

If you’re an environmentally conscious business looking to enhance your disaster preparedness and shift away from high-waste models, VoIP can offer valuable assistance. For example, if you’re struggling to reduce paper waste because you’re concerned about having access to necessary records if your server goes out, using remote storage supplemented by file transfer via VoIP could provide the solution you need. Upgrading to a VoIP system can also provide your business with the necessary incentives to take other disaster preparedness steps.

During an emergency, understanding the mechanics of your particular communications system can make a big difference. During preparations for Hurricane Harvey, Verizon reinforced some network switches, but the real precautions took place long before, during the network’s design. The same is true for your business’s communication system. You can’t assemble a disaster ready system in the days before a storm. Charge your phones and tablets in advance and invest in backup batteries. Core VoIP systems are typically low power and can run off of similar backup systems.

VoIP Goes Real Time

Using VoIP during a disaster isn’t just theoretical. When Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Island in late 2017, VoIP systems partnered with satellite Internet provided the necessary connectivity to get businesses back online and reconnect families across the islands and on the mainland. Because satellites connections could be deployed via emergency aperture terminals, response teams didn’t need to worry about infrastructural harms during the storm.

If you’re planning to use VoIP as part of your disaster response plan, make sure to choose a hosted plan, as on-site systems could be damaged during a disaster. After all, your goal is to build the most secure, long-lasting communication plan possible so that you can focus on more immediate needs next time disaster strikes.

Communication shouldn’t worry you. In an uncertain world, digital connections are a tool of survival.

Bill is a green living geek writing about various topics including; sustainability, fuel economy vehicles, green design, branding and marketing.

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