How to pick a disaster-proof comms system that meets your needs.

After a Disaster

When a hurricane or other disaster sweeps through, it doesn’t only create heartbreaking devastation, it also slows rescue and recovery efforts by knocking out communications. First responders and others face reduced efficiency and increased risk at these crucial times when they can’t get real-time updates and must rely on outdated information and plans.

In Louisiana after hurricane Ida, for instance, 52% of cell towers in the hurricane’s path were out of service with many areas remaining affected for days. In some places even 9-11 call centers were out of service hampering critical communications.

In order to transcend these outages, teams need to have alternatives that don’t depend on terrestrial infrastructure. The best, most practical solution is satellite. Unlike radio and cell towers, satellites are not impacted by hurricanes, ice storms, terror attacks, and similar situations. This makes satellite communication systems resilient and reliable in the wake of disasters.

Making a Bubble

One of the most popular ways to establish satellite connections in affected areas is by deploying mobile cell sites such as COWs (cellular on wheels), COLTs (cellular on light trucks), and other temporary cell towers. These units are self-contained and fully functional. They replace compromised or missing cell towers and create a connectivity bubble which restores service to their immediate area.

Anytime you have a concentration of people in a limited space, COWs or other similar options can be a great solution. After a hurricane moves through or some other disaster causes outages, COWs can be quickly set up. Urban areas, headquarters, and dispatch centers especially benefit from this solid bubble of coverage.

COWs are incredible for those working in fixed locations, but they aren’t much help to others who have to go further afield. Even the most impressive COWs can only create a bubble of connectivity for a limited distance. What happens when you need to go outside the bubble?

Outside the Bubble

Is there a way to get reliable satellite connectivity outside the bubble? Yes! With a Skymira GoKIT™ or mobile Explorer package, you can create your own roving comms bubble. The Skymira GoKIT™, a plug-and-talk RoIP (radio over IP) gateway in a rugged case, allows you to establish a connection anywhere you go. A mobile Explorer package turns your vehicle into a roving satellite gateway. Both the GoKIT™ and the mobile package provide real-time communications outside the bubble and can be integrated into your current LMR (land mobile radio) network.

Whether you work in a remote area and rely on satellite all the time or find yourself in urban areas with good LTE or WIFI and only utilize satellite during outages, these reinvented RoIP systems are ideal for mobile teams and those working in multiple locations.

Flat-rate, month-to-month satellite plans with latencies on par with LTE and 5G make this a viable option. Automatic failover and redundancies mean you don’t have to set these systems up after a disaster – they’re already in use. And updated RoIP technology means these packages provide incredible interoperability.

Quiz – Assessing Your Needs

Depending on your needs, one or both of these solutions – COWs and/or Skymira’s portable and mobile solutions – could be what you need to disaster-proof your communications network.

How can you pick the resilient communications system that will best meet your needs? Here’s a quick quiz to help you assess your needs.

Do you have…

  1. a) Fixed site location(s) with many users
  2. b) Changing or fixed sites with single user or several users
  3. c) Both large fixed sites and small roving sites

If your answer was…

  1. a) For your application you might want to look into a COW or COLT unit to efficiently supply large amounts of coverage to small, fixed areas during outages and disasters
  2. b) In this case you might want to consider integrating Skymira’s GoKITs or mobile RoIP packages into your communications network to provide seamless coverage regularly and during outages and disasters
  3. c) You might consider integrating both COWs and Skymira’s mobile or portable solutions into your emergency preparedness plan to ensure comprehensive coverage in case of outages and disasters

Disaster-Proofing Your Comms

Are you ready to harden your communications plan to ensure you’ll stay online after the next disaster? Contact a communication systems engineer to learn more about how you can develop a resilient communications system that’s reliable through outages and after disasters.