U.S. wireless communications networks should be made more resilient in extreme weather emergencies, according to a government task force studying the effects of Hurricane Sandy.
The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force recommended improving the communications networks so cellular towers and data centers can keep working “regardless of the status of the electrical grid.” In a report released today, the group -- led by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development -- made 69 recommendations for mitigating harm from future emergencies.
The $50 billion federal relief package following the October storm has included $5.4 billion in rebuilding funding from HUD and $3.8 billion in small-business aid and survivor distributions through the Small Business Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the report said. The Department of Transportation has tallied $6.8 billion in infrastructure recovery.
“We are working hand-in-hand with communities to help them rebuild smarter and better by providing the best data about the risks they face, setting clear resilience standards to help protect against those risks, and bringing a wide range of stakeholders together to foster innovative ideas,” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan wrote in an introductory letter. Many of the recommendations in today’s report have already been adopted.
The government already met a recommendation to create more “nationally consistent mortgage policies” to keep responsible homeowners from being forced out because of temporary financial hardships, the report said. After more than 650,000 homes were damaged or destroyed by Sandy, the task force also recommended making a sea-level projection tool more widely available, and encouraged homeowners and businesses to elevate buildings above flood levels.
The government has also focused on making the electrical grid more flexible and protecting the supply chain for fuel -- a particular problem after Sandy.