Purpose – The aftermath of hurricane Katrina has reinforced the role of communication networks and information management in providing effective response to a large‐scale disaster. The purpose of this paper is to examine the performance of communication networks and information systems during hurricane Katrina, list causes of failure and propose design for reliable and scalable networks. Design/methodology/approach – A detailed study of communication networks and information systems was undertaken in the Gulf Coast area. Findings – Breakdown of backhaul circuits, flooding of PSTN and disruption of electricity contributed to failure of communication systems. Overall wireless voice and data networks had faster recovery time and performed better than the landline networks. Absence of inter‐agency information system contributed towards delayed response. Practical implications – During the reconstruction activity in Gulf Coast and to prepare strategy for disasters in future, officials will need to refocus on the design of networks and information management systems so as to improve inter‐agency communication, speed up recovery efforts and limit loss in business value. Originality/value – It is imperative that organizations involved in the disaster recovery process have all the information they need – quickly and accurately. Quick response to disaster has the potential to significantly reduce total loss. This paper proposes integrated disaster management strategies for coordinated response to disaster.
Disaster Prevention and Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 1, 2006
Keywords: Natural disasters; Communication; Information systems; United States of America
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