Free wifi a tool for Emergencies?

This is a very quick post, because it feels far too much like intruding in private grief to pump out “lessons of the Boston bombings” posts.

However…….

I’ve been banging on for years now about the need for free wifi in public spaces, especially in hospitals (see http://freehospitalwifi.wordpress.com/). Time and again I have had to deal with criticisms from people who think I am arguing for rich people to have carte blanche to play with their expensive toys at the public’s expense.

But…. have you ever noticed how the mobile phone networks fall over when there are big crowds gathered in one place? I certainly have. And, as the Boston tragedy unfolded yesterday, there were lots of tweets about how people were struggling to get communications through on the local networks. This was then followed by “official” announcements that the networks were being closed down to prevent remote triggering of further bombs.

And then I saw tweets appealing for local businesses with wifi networks to unlock them to allow people in the area to use them to communicate with relatives to let them know they were safe.  I hope this happened.

So public wifi could be a key tool in allowing communications to continue during emergencies. This is another compelling reason why we need it in more locations.

Perhaps we can discuss this at BlueLightCamp 2013

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