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Coping When Technology Goes Off-line

NCJ Number
Becky Lewis
Date Published
June 2013
0 pages
This online article discusses Oklahoma City's efforts to deal with inoperable technology following the tornado that struck the region on May 20, 2013.

On May 20, 2013, a powerful tornado struck Moore, OK and other parts of suburban Oklahoma City knocking out communication among first responders. This online article from JUSTNET, the Web site of the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center, examines the damage to communications resulting from the storm. Law enforcement officials found that computers and phone systems were basically useless due to lack of power from downed wires and debris covering the roadways, making access and repair efforts difficult. Earlier storm planning efforts between city officials and the wireless provider suggested that cell phone service could be restored to damaged areas within 3-4 hours with the use of cell-on-wheels (COW) units. However, the powerful storm tore control boxes out of the ground, leaving the COW units unable to operate. As a result of the power outages, computers, cell phones, and even landlines were of little use to law enforcement and first responders. A microwave link available to the city through the Department of Homeland Security restored communications among agencies until the city's service provider could come back online.