Sunday, September 04, 2005

Nextel Saves Lives

I've been tracking punditeria, hat tip LGF. These guys are doing wonders - if you haven't donated, send them money.

They're concentrating on getting high-value equipment to the relief workers, for example supplying Nextel Walkie-Talkie cellphones to hospitals.

Seven powerful Nextel Cellular Walkie-Talkies were delivered tonight to the hospital. These walkie-talkies have almost completely vanished from store shelves in south Louisiana, having been requisitioned by the National Guard. Serious damage to the phone system has rendered these Nextels critical to allowing staff members to travel more than a short distance from the hospital.

From the hellish morning of the hurricane until now, the doctors have been basically trapped, unable to go anywhere because that might put a needed physician out of radio range at a critical moment. Thanks to your donations, we are making good, steady progress in freeing the staff from a hospital that had become something akin to a virtual prison.

Walkie-Talkie cellphones doesn't exist in Europe - people use texting for low cost communication. But Walkie-Talkie has a key advantage in a disaster - it works when cellphone towers are down.

Direct Talk is an all-digital off-network walkie-talkie service that works between compatible phones within a range of up to 6 miles. Terrain, weather, foliage and man-made structures (such as buildings), among other things, may impact range availability. Direct Talk operates on the 900 MHz ISM public frequency and provides group and private walkie-talkie capability.

This valuable service is ideal for use in remote locations, as a back up for emergency situations, or when network coverage may not be available.

It's an elegant, low-cost feature that helps all sorts of people - our pool installer in Virginia used it to track his work crews. Now it's come into its own - I hope the designers get recognition when this is all over.