Last March, I published a blog entry titled: SMS may be the Only Reliable Communications Channel During Significant Events. That explained why SMS usage was encouraged when there were few other possibilities for people to reach out to others after the strong Chile earthquake on the 27th of February, 2010. Based on the events of this year, alone, that message bears repeating again:
When mobile communications channels are not completely destroyed or disrupted, SMS is a very reliable method of communicating.
In fact, after the recent New Zealand earthquake on the 22nd February, earlier this year, there were notices from authorities through a variety of media types, including Twitter stating:
#Earthquake: Keep cellphone calls short, or use SMS - #New Zealand…
Sybase is in a unique position, as it is able to track SMS traffic trends around the world. The devastating earthquake in Japan, today struck at 14:46 JST. International SMS traffic peaked in the 16:00 hour and has continue to remain at much higher than normal levels.
Last month’s New Zealand earthquake showed similar results and the traffic stayed at higher than normal levels for several days, until the situation was more stabilized.
Of course, through this year, we have seen numerous ups and downs of SMS service in Egypt, during the initial protests, with Internet and international SMS disrupted, to see it restored and the huge surge of texts, when it was announced that Mubarek had resigned. Libya has also seen its share of SMS disruptions that continue, for a variety of reasons, to this day. The ubiquity and strong penetration of SMS users also makes this medium a target for disruption in certain situations.
Despite all that we have, worldwide, now: Social Networks, Twitter, Online and Mobile media, various chat groups and IM services, it is still SMS that people continue turn to.