By Rajiv Kapoor
The past years in particular have witnessed India being affected by natural calamities or man-made disasters of mammoth order. This trend is not confined to any particular region or state but in fact the entire country has been affected in some way or the other. As per a United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction report published last year, India ranked fourth in the world on the list of worst affected countries due to disasters.
While the loss of lives and economic impact is irreplaceable, it is the aftermath of the disasters that make it more threatening. Immediate days after the disaster, chaos and disorder prevail with recovery tasks assuming a challenging role. In an otherwise connected world, unavailability and lack of access to basic utility services including communication needs causes a grave barrier to the recovery efforts.
The advancements in the field of wireless communication now offer a chance to overcome this age-old issue. Wireless Broadband in particular is emerging as the preferred avenue by stakeholders to manage disaster recovery pursuits.
Wireless communication systems are now built specifically to address and manage scenarios of disaster or natural calamity. Such networks can be setup at the quickest possible time thus enabling first responders such as medical, repair teams, fire, police and rescue access to critical aspects such as voice calls over VoIP, video streaming and data transfer. These network links are designed to be up and ready in a matter of hours.
A real life execution leveraging from the above involves a deployment of an advanced wireless broadband system in Houston prior to arrival of Harvey. The requirement was to support about 1000 users before the arrival of the storm. Furthermore the network also served as enabler of connectivity for the bedding camps of relief workers.
The solution under consideration involved the use of a specialized system designed for disaster recovery management with three-foot dishes to broadcast from a main hub in Seabrook, Texas. The solution involved thorough planning to provide outdoor as well as indoor connectivity. The main underlying proposition of the deployment was that the back-haul of the network was designed to be a permanent installation and not merely act as an ad-hoc arrangement. This strongly underlines the requirement of a network that scores high on reliability.
Further complementing the aspect of reliability, are the parameters of redundancy as well as simplicity of use for administrators to view and perform a full suite of wireless network management functions in real time, and optimize system availability, maximize throughput, and meet emerging needs of business and residential customers. With this information, network operators have an immediate view of current and historical performance to quickly allocate resources to expand or modify coverage.
These global case studies serve as ready reckoner for stakeholders in India to leverage from the use of such reliable and advanced wireless broadband solutions. Coupled with c, such a network mechanism can indeed serve as a savior during times of disasters. Allowing connectivity to play a center stage role in such situations certainly augers well for disaster recovery objectives.
(The author is the Vice President, India & SAARC, Cambium Networks)
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