When Hurricane Irma roared through the Caribbean and Florida, it caused a swath of devastation that devastated entire islands and impacted Florida from the southern tip to the northern border.

People can now access to Comcast’s internet through the hotspots. The good thing about the service is that it is open to everyone even for non-customers.

Irma was one of the largest hurricanes to ever hit the United States, and it made an incredible impact. At one point, more than 60% of business and homes lost electricity. Weeks later, officials are scrambling to repair the damage and restore power, sewers, roads, and water systems across the state.

According to Robert Gould, the Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for Florida Power and Light, “We understand what it means to be in the dark.” He also added “We understand what it means to be hot and without air conditioning. We will be restoring power day and night.”

The effect of Hurricane Irma is an obvious wake-up call for government and business to step up their game in the areas of weather and disaster recovery. Many businesses and companies have already developed services and technologies that would help people achieve fast recovery when calamity strikes.

The following services and technological advancements cater to resolving electricity problems, distribution of news, connection to the internet, and strengthened cell signals.

Smart Devices

Smart devices are in everything. There are smart devices, meters and sensors throughout the electric grid and in many devices in homes and the workplace. They actually helped to limit the damage that Irma caused as the hurricane blew through the state. Smart devices can sense when there is a sudden change or something amiss. They can either shut current or other devices down, or notify monitors of the problem. Without smart devices, damage to the Florida power grid would have been much worse.

Florida Power and Light installed smart devices like smart meters, sensors, and monitors on their electric grids. The action allowed them to check and detect issues. The devices are making it easier for restoration specialists and line workers to restore power and return Florida to normal.

Drones

Drones have already become a major player when it comes to innovation. They have already been instrumental for entertainment and fun as well as monitoring different industries from agriculture to oil exploration.

After a calamity like a hurricane, drones have the capability to do a great deal to help restore order. They are being used for search and rescue, to monitor conditions in areas that can be hard to reach and to deliver emergency supplies like medicines. They have also been instrumental in inspecting power lines, roadways, bridges and a lot more. The small flying vehicle can travel anywhere, making assessment and search more efficient and easier.

Cell on Wheels, Cell on Wings

Cell service is important especially in natural disasters, when information is essential. But what if cell sites are damaged? Cell service providers, and emergency services, have created a number of options for providing cell service in hard hit areas, even when towers are down or without power.

drone with medical kit in sky

ICS Industries developed the Cell on Wheels, a portable base station that provides temporary cellular network signal for emergency events.

The Cell on Wheels has its own:

  • Mounting Pole
  • Outrigger
  • Generator Inlet
  • Air Conditioner
  • Will-Burt Mast
  • Trailer Hitch

The Cell on Light Trucks is like Cell on Wheels but in a larger vehicle. It provides needs that are much bigger than what the smaller van solution offers. And Cell on Wings is literally a drone that sends LTE signals.

Xfinity WiFi Hotspots

Comcast is the biggest cable television and broadcasting company in the world by revenue. The company has made extensive efforts to make their system robust in the face of natural disasters.

The company developed a service called Xfinity WiFi Hotspots. People can now access to Comcast’s internet through the hotspots. The good thing about the service is that it is open to everyone even for non-customers.

Websites, Applications, and Social Media

Websites provide instantaneous and constantly updated news. MiamiHerald.com is a well-known 24/7 media website that offers a real-time information. During Irma, the website provided real time information and storm tracking, as well as information about available evacuation shelters.

Different mobile applications have also come to the rescue like Hurricane App, Headspace, WhatsApp, Firechat, Snap Map, Nextdoor, tracker.gasbuddy.com, Zello, NOAA Radar US, Waze, and Weather Underground. These apps are just some of the most useful tools for tracking weather events and natural disasters.

The presence of Facebook and Twitter will always be felt no matter what. Throughout the storm both outlets proved to be reliable information outlets. No wonder that people still continue to rely on social media to get news and to communicate.

These technologies may have had their largest real world test in the face of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. They provided real time information both in the warning stage and during the storm. Plus, they have been instrumental in restoring power, repairing damage, and helping people to learn where to find emergency services, FEMA services, and assistance. And of course, these technologies are a critical part of the clean up effort.

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