Amateur Radio is certainly the one medium that can be activated almost instantly in any emergency. Of course, for those applications that require instant alerting at any time, other means may provide a better link to those running the show. That may possibly have helped a bit in the case of the tsunami disasters, but probably it would not have made any difference in the various earthquakes. Bandwidth is the big deal, along with access to those in charge. Those are the two areas where satellite communications may be valuable, but the price may be an issue.
One other point, not mentioned previously, is that communications by itself is of marginal value without some response being made. Passing bad news does not usually provide any benefit until a response is made.
The presumption that these "wonderful" radios are going to make the response much more rapid is ignoring the fact that communications is only part of preparedness. Also, not all of us need pictures and video to understand a situation. Some of us older folks are still able to understand a situation based on text descriptions.
These comments are not intended to be disparaging, but rather to point out that communications is only part of disaster relief.
Do you know what emergency communications system costs LESS, requires NO infrastructure, does NOT need satellites, and is ALREADY depolyed world wide? Amateur Radio. Amateur Radio was sucessfully used in New York after the 9/11 disaster; it was used in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake; it was used in Japan after the March 2011 earthquake; and amateur radio operators continue to offer their talent, training, and equipment on a volunteer basis to provide emergency communications when needed.
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