by Matt Lacy –
In a move that has provided fuel for critics of government solutions to problems, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been telling storm victims of Hurricane Sandy who are without power they should go to the Internet for information.
Politico noted that FEMA has been advising people to use social media such as Twitter to receive information about the disaster. Sandy
They noted that a call to FEMA’s desk revealed they have very little information that is available from non-internet sources. The primary advice is for people to call 911.
However, FEMA has not explained how a person is supposed to use the Internet to get information from the government if there is no power to use a computer. While some may use cell phones, there are still many who do not have smart phones. Additionally, there frequently is problems with cell phone coverage following these types of disasters as cell phone towers can be down, thus preventing reception.
Media outlets have been following the government’s lead, frequently omitting emergency phone numbers in favor of directing people to a website.
Matt Thome, a spokesman for the Safe American Foundation, a non-profit disaster preparedness advocacy organization told Politico the government mentality that people should just use the Internet is problematic.
“As we get further away from a time when people aren’t relying on smartphones to do everything for them, people are going to lose focus that not everyone’s going to connect to the Internet. What happens when it goes down? That basic level of preparedness has been lost.”
Thome noted that in these types of disasters, older technology can be more reliable because there are fewer things that can go wrong.
“The more basic you get, the technology has fewer areas where breakdown can happen,” Thome explained. “It used to be old landlines would get clogged up, but now with so few people having landlines anymore, they’re more likely not to go out.”
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