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2004-08-14

Moport: An independent event-driven mobile blog network

I grew up on the Gulf Coast, and spent some time in Tornado Alley as well. Now, I live on the Ring of Fire. All three have their disasters; hurricanes, twisters and earthquakes.

I also know many volunteer disaster workers who had Ground Zero assignments. They found low-bandwidth texting (often through paging networks, since cell nets were down for many days) their best source of information.

Howard Rheingold's Smart Mobs website led me to this article on Moport, a text blogging net for mobiles, which will make its debut during the Republican National Convention in the Big Apple at the end of this month.

Why not establish a Moport for Hurricane Charlie, and then create protocols for quick deployment of other Moports for other natural disasters?

My motivation is that people deal with disasters better when they have a sense of being informed. Traditional disaster relief organizations, however, have to do that through the commercial media, who are rather cumbersome and have their own interests (i.e., 'what bleeds, leads') which can distort news coverage.

Texting from PDAphones and Moport can overcome that bias, and can allow people a better sense of what's going on.

Rumor Control, of course, must be addressed, as there will always be folks who delight in lying for the sake of sensationalism. This may be accomplished by allowing certified sources (i.e., Red Cross, Salvation Army, other VOADS {Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters} ) plus government agencies (police traffic departments, state highway departments) to have a special rating affixed to their statements. Yes, sometimes authority must be questioned, but through the transparent process of a Moport, we will likely get useful information from the authorities.

Wouldn't you feel better in a disaster if you had an independent channel of information through your mobile phone (that is, for as long as it works.. since ATT, Nextel, and T-Mobile can only support about sixty callers per cell, and Qwest, Sprint and Verizon only about thirty?)