Government Technology

Hawaii Quake Emphasized Value of Text Messages in Emergencies

October 19, 2006 By

HONOLULU -- RU OK? In the crush to communicate with family and friends after last weekend's 6.7 earthquake on the Richter Scale, sending text messages proved to be a quick, efficient way to communicate, according to Verizon Wireless. In the aftermath of earthquakes, hurricanes and floods, voice call traffic rises exponentially. In fact, call volume on the Verizon Wireless network in Hawaii increased 250% over a normal Sunday during the height of the emergency. Text message volume also soared. Some cell sites were affected during the emergency. The network was operating at full strength within 19 hours.

"Verizon Wireless customers have many options to communicate vital safety information and our early numbers indicate many residents and visitors turned to text messaging following the quake and its aftershocks," said Hal Navarre, head of Verizon Wireless Hawaii network operations. "We encourage the general public to use text messaging during an earthquake or other disaster because it can be a faster and more efficient use of the network, and also saves battery power on your phone, which is especially important when commercial power is out."

Teams of Verizon Wireless network technicians worked around the clock to ensure the vital communications network remained operational during the emergency. "We prepare for emergencies all year long because we know the critical role of communications in public safety. And when disaster strikes we mobilize people and equipment to respond," said Navarre. The company has invested more than $100 million in its Hawaii network during the last five years to expand coverage, add new capabilities and enhance reliability features including backup battery power and generators.

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