One vital aspect of storm response and recovery which might initially be overlooked is communication. First responders and people distributing aid must know where help is required and coordinate efforts to get it there. Officials may need to communicate plans with their communities, update responders and organizations on community needs, and keep in touch with the rest of the community as recovery progresses. People in general can find comfort in hearing from friends, relatives, and other communities, and can be more prepared for disasters in the first place given information about how to prepare, as well as timely warnings about what to expect.
Unfortunately, Puerto Rico’s communications were largely paralyzed by Maria, for reasons ranging from extended loss of power and staff to the wholesale destruction of infrastructure. To help ensure the aforementioned functions for communication can be fulfilled in the future, we’ve devised a collection of proposals regarding technologies such as satellite, cellular, and radio-based communications, as well as general guidelines for education and mental health, and emergency alerts.
General use, calls and text messaging, emergency alerts
|General public||Can provide access to online sources, communications while|
A large quantity of infrastructure can be disrupted in storms
|Online||General use||General public||Wide variety of information available, on-demand||Communication lines can be vulnerable to storms|
connectivity to areas without
|General public||No |
dependence on existing
|Not yet widely available for |
public use (but similar system
|Expensive to |
Receiving and distributing information when available, especially for visuals
|General public(mostly |
one-way), journalists and reporters
|Audio and |
|Minimal two-way communication, |
|Radio (AM)||Primarily |
unavailable, or if preferring
|General public(mostly one-|
Although there are other means of communication which we do not touch on, including some listed above, those which we chose to address we believe to be representative of the widest variety of roles in storm response and recovery.
Communication is an issue which may warrant funding from the Puerto Rican government and outside donations. Some services like public and private radio stations which operate as informational centers during the storm are vital, but may not be profitable enough to autonomously afford certain infrastructure modifications suggested for long-term resilience.
Donations from communities may be viable, given the value provided by communications services; it is in the interests of the public, organizations and businesses to keep communication infrastructure well maintained in case of emergency. Some of our proposals regarding radio stations and emergency alert systems require relatively little funding, and may be well-supported by donations and volunteer work.
Our funding proposal mainly focuses receiving funds from the government and donations, but certain projects, such as Project Loon and Cell on Wings could be invested in by businesses.
Project Proposal Budget
|Project Proposals||Estimated Cost (USD)|
|Iridium Communications Company satellite phones||$552,000|
|Mental Health Programs||$4M|
Figure 2: The estimated cost of providing communication during emergency, investing in improving the education plan and mental health programs.