Disasters usually mean destroyed or impaired terrestrial infrastructure AND an exponential increase in the need for good communication. There will always be disasters: hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunami, floods and even terrorism. In every case, the first thing emergency responders need, is communication. Communication with each other, and communication with the rest of the world.
National and international relief agencies will always head to a disaster zone, but often airports and roads have also been damaged or blocked, and much needed equipment, including communications equipment, can sit around for days or weeks before it can be transported to where it is needed. Meanwhile local first responders are hampered by lack of adequate communication facilities.
Terrestrial communications infrastructure, which is essentially linear in nature, relies on the whole network remaining intact. One downed pole can cutoff an entire area. In rural areas, cellular networks are similarly affected, in urban areas, fallen towers cause overload on the remaining towers, also severely hampering communications.
Satellite systems, on the other hand, are much more resilient. Satellite systems are the only communication networks not impacted by terrestrial disasters. The second point in the network is 22,000 miles above the earth: impervious to destruction on the ground. Unlike terrestrial infrastructure, satellite communications are enabled with the flip of a switch, providing instant high capacity bandwidth wherever needed.
Advance planning is the key to successful disaster management. Strategically integrating satellite communications into the every day communication infrastructure provides continuity of operation and the ability to immediately respond when disaster strikes. Having satellite systems in place as part of the infrastructure prior to a disaster reduces response time and saves lives. At a very minimum satellite should be incorporated into network design to provide full redundancy in the event of failure.
Rural areas in Puerto Rico and most places in Cuba, where many schools and hospitals lack good connection to the Internet, satellite could also be used to provide that connection on an ongoing basis, meaning that the equipment will be installed and used to best advantage.
Geostationary satellites can be used for the full range of communication services – from emergency broadcasts, to connection to the Internet and cellular backhaul. C-Band is particularly resilient, as it is not impacted by heavy rain.
Satellites provide several advantages over terrestrial telecommunications:
They can communicate to everywhere in the footprint, which in the case of a geostationary satellite is approximately one third of the earth.
The equipment is “self-contained”, that is, it doesn't rely on anything else on the ground in order to function. A connection can therefore be established in minutes, not days or weeks!
Additional connections can be added as needed with no disruption to the existing service.
Center for Preparedness and Response
CPR is a model of a Satellite based, Resilient and Innovative, Emergency Telecommunication Infrastructure, that will provide Backup and Business Continuity services to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands
Campo Rico Group (CRG) Communications is a satellite internet service provider with the capacity to provide timely cost-effective solutions for sustained communications before and after of natural disasters in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. As a member of the Global VSAT Forum and the UN Global Emergency Telecommunications Cluster, CRG proposes the creation of a Caribbean Preparedness and Response Center or CPR, which aims to organize and manage local, customized, scalable consortiums of organizations with common interests and a strong willingness to collaborate in an emergency. Together, the members of these groups will take part in a coordinated satellite communications network as an innovative solution to efficiently prepare for, and recover from, natural and other disasters.
Satellite communications infrastructure has indisputably proven to be the most resilient when it comes to terrestrial emergencies. Terrestrial communications infrastructure is centralized and linear in nature which make them highly susceptible to natural disasters. A single break in that linear infrastructure disconnects countless communities proceeding it. On the other hand, the satellite communications link is impervious to terrestrial disasters. With merely a low capacity back-up power supply, hospitals, police stations, community centers and municipalities emergency centers can restore communications right after the event and independent of each other.
Reconnecting a coordinated satellite network takes only minutes to hours, after which predetermined protocols can be put in place to deliver much needed help to those who need it and provide a way to share the information necessary to know what to expect and what resources are needed. CRG's model for an integrated preparedness and response network (CPR) future proofs the island of Puerto Rico against being cut-off in emergencies.
Key Institutions to Benefit
Emergency satellite telecommunication services allows institutions and organizations to continue providing their services without interruption.