Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hello? Can you hear me now?

The gamut of what is classified as “disaster” runs wide. The interpersonal hell of a couple divorcing is a type of disaster seeing an unwelcome growth. The unspeakable horrors of genocide fall on the larger scale of disaster. A semester of abysmal grades, the death of a family member, a terrorist attack, paella gone terribly wrong… In the aftermath of disasters we ask ourselves What Went Wrong?

Analyzing the reasons for the Katrina disaster brings with it the inescapable interconnectedness of the factors associated with the reasons, effects and far reaching consequences of the days of the hurricane. In the innumerable readings, video’s, documentaries and associated media we are exposed to a barrage of reasoning for why it all went so horribly wrong. Frontline’s investigation into “The Storm” examines how local, state, and federal governments dealt with the Hurricane Katrina Disaster. As with other documentaries, this one provided compelling footage into the real life events of the week in New Orleans that no one will forget. What was unique to this documentary was the apparent blame game that officials on every level played. From FEMA to the Bush administration “The Storm”

Questioned big wigs about who, and what was responsible for the ultimate fail to respond in a time of need, a need for action. And as stated by David Brooks the "human storm" – brought with it the recriminations, the political conflict and the battle over compensation.

Yet even as I sit and listen to the video’s message and read the scholarly writings that seek so vehemently to discover to true cause of the disaster, one word speaks volumes while the rest fall upon deaf ears.


Interoperability speaks to the need for people to be able to effectively communicate, to operate between bureaucracies. Something that was severally lacking within the agencies responsible for the clean up for Hurricane Katrina and the delivery of help to desperate people. While these agencies sat back bickering and placing blame on each other, people continued to die. So while the fingers for the cause of this disaster can be pointed at nature, at a lack of infrastructure, at an overriding racist mentality, or any other convenient reasons offered, the reason for what went wrong at the crucial hour was in fact the lack of interoperability between everyone involved.

We’ve long discussed digital communications both in our class and in our society, yet in a classic example, composed of the usual suspects, those same forms of communications did little to produce action. Along with a greater sense of preparedness there needs to be a more efficient way for government agencies to a) interact and b) get things accomplished. Without it, it’s like playing a game of broken telephone. One says “Guys, please help. Our phones have no service and our homes are flooded” and the other hears… “Our guys are being serviced, and I’m getting it all on my phone.”

1 comment:

CityChick said...

BTW, The formatting is not expected and unrequested.