What would happen to you,
your business, your community and even all the UK if all
the UK communications networks went silent for three
- Nice one, you think
if you happen to be at home with a well-stocked
larder and all your nearest and dearest are safe
and close to hand; just relax, enjoying the peace
- But how long before
the power fails too and the beer or wine is no
longer cool and you can't cook and, in any case,
the fridge and freezer are off so your food is
slowly rotting, and your central heating stops
- Not so nice if you
have children away at school - are they safe?
when will they come home? will they be able to
get home safely?
- And what if you
and/or your partner are also out of the house and
maybe too far away to walk home as the transport
systems, at first over-crowded, slowly grind to a
halt and the roads gridlock?
- And it is getting
dark and the hotels are full; where is it safe to
rest and wouldn't it be nice to find something to
eat and drink?
- And what if you
have an elderly relative who depends on your
regular calls or those of a professional carer?
- And a fire breaks
out down the street and noone can call the Fire
service or the Police when the corner shop is
- And you walk to a
local supermarket to find the shelves empty and
there is no petrol.
- And the water taps
slow to a trickle.
- And our Police and
Military would be very thin on the ground if
serious disruption occurred.
Fortunately in the UK this is
not a very likely scenario but our dependence on
communications systems is increasing to the point where,
at least in the short-term, we value communications more
highly than water.
And this progression will
inevitably occur if the outage persists long enough.
- In past times, we
might all have watched BBC1 on analogue TV but
now only 4 million can view BBC1 on digital
FreeView, with Sky and Virgin Media needed to get
up to similar coverage and limitations occur due
to dependence on networks for contributions and
- In earlier times,
we would have reverted to listening to Long Wave
AM - still there on (some) Radio 4, but
increasingly being displaced by FM and DAB; would
enough people still have LW radios and are there
network dependencies here too?
could the Police and Government track the situation and
how well can they now communicate with us at home and in
the streets and other public places? Could the Emergency
- Would centralised
messages to "stay indoors and remain
calm" be enough any more?
- How can 60 million
people pass on "I'm OK" or "Help
- How much damage
would be inflicted on our interconnected economy
before some form of normality is reinstated?
- How much of our
internationally mobile businesses would we have
lost, possibly forever?
- How close to a
post-earthquake Haiti would we descend?
days outage may well take several weeks to restore,
longer and it could be months; are we prepared as
individuals, families, businesses?
expectations may need to change:
- Maybe restoring
SMS-based Twitter might be far more effective
than restoring broadcast TV or introducing a
- Maybe restoring
limited local power is easier and faster than
restoring a fully-synchronised national grid?
- And getting
hospitals and related emergency services back
- And then there's
restoring basic food distribution, care services
- And FaceBook access
may now be more urgent than voice services.
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