Why the future of disaster preparation belongs to the mobile web

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When disaster strikes, fewer things are more important than your smartphone.

So says mobile website platform Usablenet, which reported that mobile traffic to websites of utility companies like Con Edison increased by 16,000 percent both during and after hurricane Sandy.

Other sites saw major traffic boosts as well. Visits to transportation pages spiked by 495 percent, and telecoms saw their own traffic climb by 126 percent.

While these numbers are unsurprising on their own, they do show just how important the mobile web has become for finding information about natural disasters both before and as they are happening. The trick, then, is to ensure that people can access that information quickly and easily.

“The ability to access the mobile web becomes even more essential during times of crisis,”  Usablenet marketing chief Carin Van Vuuren said via email.

While Usablenet’s numbers don’t extend to weather sites, we already know that traffic to The Weather Channel increased a thousandfold during the storm. And much of that, certainly, came from smartphones.

All of this underscores one main conclusion: Investing in mobile infrastructure is the most important thing the government and utility companies can do to prepare for future disasters.

Photo: Flickr/David Shankbone 

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