How the CrisisCommunicator could have helped in the Gujarat Earthquakes of 2001

In the early months of 2012 I was talking to the president of the local HAM operators club in Kollam, Kerala, India, Mr. K.R. Nagarajan about the CrisisCommunicator long before this became as big as it is today... and he got really excited!

He told me how, if something like this had been available during the Gujarat Earthquakes, a whole lot of "airtime" (HAM-speak for time spent talking on the radio) could have been avoided... 

I wanted to know how...

Kerala is in the south of India, and Gujarat is in the north.  A lot of young (and not so young) people from Kerala work and live in Gujarat, especially in the larger cities.  When the earthquakes happend which levelled a huge swath of the state, there were a lot of concerned relatives in Kerala, worried about their sons/daughters/fathers/mothers who were in Gujarat at the time.

The radio clubs all across the country set up radio nets to relay information out of the disaster zone.  Radio was practically the only way to get information out of the area.  More and more people were coming to Mr Nagarajan, asking him to send a message up to Gujarat, asking about their son or their daughter.  Mr Nagarajan, every morning during the communication net, would relay the message up to Banglaore, from where it would be repeated to Hyderabad, and so on, after 3 or 4 hops, the message made it up to some hard-pressed communications worker somewhere in Gujarat, who would, when s/he had a moment, go to the bulliten boards and see if there was any information about that person... the next day they'd relay a message back, if they had any news.

The whole process took many people's time, and took days to get an answer, if one came at all.

So how does the CrisisCommunicator fix this?

First of all, the CrisisCommunicators in the disaster region will hold digital copies of the refugee list, and the list will be spread throughout the region.

Since the CrisisCommunicator device is a computer at heart, one of the CrisisCommunicators at the fringe of the disaster zone could be connected to the rest of the world by internet. Thus, the refugee lists, material requirements, and other important information could be spread online.

In this case, worried parents and relatives could access the database from their homes and directly know if there was any news about their loved ones.  This would save a lot of time for people on the ground, freeing them to work on more important things.

And that's the whole point behind this device: use technology to save time, so that more can be done with the resources at hand.

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