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We've Got to Talk: Emergency Communications and Engineering Ethics

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1 Author(s)
Stephan, K.D. ; Texas State Univ. San Marcos, San Marcos

When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the United States on August 29,2005, it killed over a thousand people, destroyed billions of dollars worth of property, and caused a flood that forced the evacuation of most New Orleans residents for months. The sheer magnitude of the disaster and the sense that more could have been done to prevent loss of life and property have eclipsed some less visible but nonetheless important lessons that the Katrina disaster taught us. This paper deals with the question of emergency communications: how they can fail in disasters such as Katrina and the World Trade Center attacks, why they are so nearly invisible except in times of crisis, where ethical responsibility lies when communications systems fail, and what might be done to improve matters.

Published in:

Technology and Society Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:26 ,  Issue: 3 )