Who knows whether mesh networks will become the third broadband option, but there is no denying that in times of disaster, mesh networks add up to a technology that simply works. The New York Times looks at the role of mesh networking in the current Katrina disaster recovery efforts; and how the mesh-based WiFi networks were used to jerry-rig a communications infrastructure in the New Orleans region.
WiFi meshes elegantly dodge our phone system’s central problems. They’re low-power and ultracheap – and decentralized like the Internet itself, which was initially conceived to withstand a nuclear attack. You can use WiFi to build a do-it-yourself phone system that is highly resistant to disaster.
The Times, thankfully does point out that despite failing in high-stress situations like New Orleans, the centrally switched phone systems works more often than not. Even the cellphone networks, that are overloaded during emergencies, can handle traffic, though not as optimally as the wired phones. Still, it makes absolute sense to develop a battery-powered mesh-based wifi system , that acts as an emergency communications network.