Paging has been integral to workflows and emergency response processes for well over 30 years. And the value of paging remains high today.
In recent years, smartphones and apps have become an integral part of our daily lives. But even as usage of smartphones and tablets grows, it is important to recognize that paging’s survivable architecture and cost effectiveness retains clear advantages over cellular in many instances.
If anything, the proliferation of smartphones is making paging even more critical to medical and first response sectors going forward.
At a price that can often approach 10 times that of paging, one would assume cellular to be the more reliable technology. That is simply not the case.
Emergencies of all sizes and scopes have taught us that cellular technology cannot be counted on for crisis response. When emergency responders could very least afford it, cellular technology has very publicly failed.
Cellular Networks and Emergency Response
Cellular networks have a well-documented history of failing in emergency response scenarios.
- Moore Oklahoma Tornado
- SuperStorm Sandy
- Minneapolis Bidge Collapse
- Southern California Earthquake
- Virginia's 5.8 magnitude earthquake
In all these scenarios, congestion rendered cellular phones nearly useless for emergency responders
Reaction to Cellular Network Performance During These Events
"The big message now is don’t use telephones or cell phones in Southern California."
Reuters in the aftermath of Virgina earthquake:
"The Federal Communications Commission ... is assessing a significant disruption to cell service (as major cellular providers) all reported higher call volumes and network congestion in affected areas, making it difficult to reach out to family and friends after the quake over cell phones."
FEMA & FCC joint press release in the afternmath of Virgina earthquake:
"In the minutes and hours that followed, mobile networks experienced significant network congestion, temporarily making it harder for millions of people to reach loved ones and emergency services."
Why do Cellular Networks Congest and Fail?
Cellular is a mobile consumer and enterprise business so when disaster strikes, people get on their phones to talk about it. Cellular networks were not designed to handle that amount of traffic. Under normal circumstances, those design parameters are not an issue but when a disaster strikes, cellular network failure is a forgone conclusion.
Paging is not subject to the same congestion from consumer demand.
What about texting?
SMS is a not a guaranteed technology. Cellular networks are designed to give priority to voice communication. There's no reason to expect texting to be reliable in the wake of a disaster.
Paging's Survivable Architecture
- Network sites are deployed to provide overlapping coverage
- Device communicates with multiple towers at the same time, built-in messaging redundancy – dependence on single tower minimized
How do you prepare for the worst?
- Coffee and Batteries
- For the price of one cup of coffee, you can keep a pager on-hand
- Disposable batteries mean that you will be able to function independent of the power grid
- On-site paging
- Both 1-way and 2-way paging that is insulated from the outside world
- Connects to existing back-up power supply