Network outage problems experienced during the natural or human-made disasters, such as the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, or Hurricane Sandy had severe consequences that could have been avoided with proper planning and proactive management. For instance, the Hurricane Katrina showed the extreme importance of re-establishing power networks and communication channels for ensuring the effective response – something that first responders were unable to do for weeks following the hurricane (Leitl, 2006). This natural disaster that affected the Gulf Coast region severely rested the resiliency and reliability of communication networks, demonstrating the urgent need to reconsider previously used network management practices.
Strong winds and rain made it almost impossible for the technical staff to maintain the networks and repair the antennas. Massive flooding, in turn, affected almost all communication infrastructures by damaging the equipment and preventing the fast recovery. Finally, because power outages were prolonged, most generator fuel reserves proved to be not enough to maintain the functional infrastructure, thus rendering computer systems inoperable (Access Partnership, 2006). Large parts of the affected region did not have access to the Internet and Internet-based communication networks. All these issues paralyzed command and control and delayed the delivery of critical services.
Hurricane Katrina can serve as a reminder that network disaster recovery should be proactive, that is, should be based on adequate planning and preventive measures (Solomon, Kim, & Carrell, 2014). Among other solutions, researchers suggest making the following changes to minimize the disastrous effects of hurricanes: (1) identify single points of failure and improve infrastructure to avoid them in future; (2) ensure that all software is up-to-date; (3) set up a chain of command; (4) train and educate the staff to respond to network failures timely and effectively. The staff should be able to respond to faults and know when to escalate, that is, take extreme action (Solomon et al., 2014). With proper training, it would be possible to ensure the stable network functioning and fast recovery if needed.