A large majority of the country is now hunkered down and waiting for Hurricane Sandy to hit. Public transport up and down the eastern seaboard has been suspended indefinitely, and major news outlets like the New York Times and CNN have warned that 60 million people might be affected by the storm, with a large majority potentially losing power.
As many east coast residents may soon come to realize, losing power doesn’t necessarily mean losing telephonic communications, especially for those using a non-cordless landline phone (cordless phones function using electric power, so they will not work if power is lost).
Power outages can significantly contribute to the confusion and concern caused by natural weather disasters like Hurricane Sandy. With bridges, tunnels, roads, and transportation systems closed, many people rely on television and Internet to receive frequent and accurate storm updates.
But what happens if electricity goes out and citizens are unable to access these communications? Local and national authorities should (and typically do) have backup plans in place to disseminate critical information in the event that basic utilities fail. Landline phones, and recorded messages sent through IVR systems on these phones, are critical in maintaining contact with citizens in the event of a crisis.
When power goes out, landlines and mobiles can still function properly since they rely on a different power grid than the one that operates the city’s electrical grid. Phone systems, especially landlines, are highly reliable due in large part to their construction and simplicity
Per an article featured in Weather.com “Corded landline phones may work even if the power goes out, because they’re powered from the phone jack, which in turn is powered from the phone company’s facilities. These are equipped with generators and backup batteries.”
Per an article on the Discovery Channel, landlines often work when the power fails because “they don’t use much power, the wires for the landline telephone usually are buried underground and safe from most storms, and the telephone company has installed both a backup generator and a large array of batteries in case of disaster.”
IVR systems can relay prerecorded, geo-coded messages to residents based on physical location. Since landlines often still work long after the power has gone out, utilizing interactive voice response technology in combination with landline phone systems can offer the best way to communicate during a disaster, and can help in keeping people safe and sound.