The same principle that makes your microwave oven work is the one that give my satellite system nothing but headaches. It all started in 1945. Percy Spencer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Spencer) was working on magnetrons which create the radio signals for radar. He noticed that the chocolate bar in his pocket started to melt when he stood in front of it. Then he intentionally put popcorn in front of the transmitted and popcorn popped all around the room.
The recent Tsunami in American Samoa highlights all the problems that may be encountered with island operations. American Samoa is extremely remote relative to the lower-48 states, and this can lead to all sorts of additional complications. It makes work on Puerto Rico, Hawaii and the US Virgin Islands looks simple. This is just going to be the series of challenges to provide technology to disaster relief operations with island operations and considerations to overcome them.
In reading Andy Opsahi’s article Satellite Technology Provides Disaster Communications When Cell Towers Fail at http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Satellite-Technology-Provides-Disaster.html, I was at first heartened with the statement:
Emergency managers know that having foolproof disaster communications plan is nothing more than fantasy. That’s because even the most redundant backup strategies can leave responders unable to communicate.
Unfortunately, Andy missed two major drawbacks to satellite communications in the article that appears bias toward the positives of using satellite. It isn’t surprising as they are frequently overlooked. A clear view of the sky, and the spot beam capacity. Although he was dead on when he said it was expensive.
The following text is from an interview that did with Satellite Evolution. They are UK-based company in case you are wondering about any of the spelling. The original text is posted at http://www.satellite-evolution.com/issues/SEA-Nov-2008-web/redcross.pdf on their website.
Satellite communications: helping millions
The Red Cross of America is humanitarian association that helps millions of people year recover from disasters across the world. The use of satellite communications within the humanitarian sector has seen marked rise in recent years. Helen Jameson spoke to Keith Robertory, Disaster Services Technology Manager for the American Red Cross to find out how the organisation is using satellite based technology and why.