Friday, September 09, 2005

Blackberry worked when other communications failed

This isn't a paid announcement, just an observation: the Blackberry PDA proved to be a reliable, survivable means of communication during and after a massive national disaster. As a Blackberry user, I recommend it more than ever.

Even when all radio, TV, Internet, telephone and cellular phone service went dead during Hurricane Katrina, the Blackberry's email function kept right on working. I'm not a techie, but I do know the following.

My friend in the New Orleans area kept in touch with the world, and helped his neighbors do the same, through his Blackberry. He used it first to find out which roads were passable so people could evacuate. Later the Blackberry enabled him to get reliable news, to spread news in the stricken area, to get rumors confirmed or debunked, and to help locate and unite relatives feared lost by the disaster.

Through his Blackberry messages, friends outside the disaster area were able to post notices on the "missing" and "survivor" Websites about who was accounted for, who was not, and how people could find one another. They sent the many responses back to him and his neighbors. With such news, people were able to drive to shelters and pick up their loved ones. One of those located and reunited was a disabled man who was feared dead but had been evacuated to Baton Rouge. My friend, now this blog's unofficial Katrina correspondent, also sent messages about locations where people still needed to be rescued. Friends outside forwarded his messages to the Coast Guard and Red Cross.

As of today his voice and Internet communications remain dead, but we keep trading Blackberry messages as easily as ever. Now I see why every US senator is issued a Blackberry. The head of FEMA should get one, too.


Post a Comment

<< Home