What Does BZ Mean?

Bravo Zulu when conveyed by flaghoist, morse code, or voice comms at the end of a mission means Well Done. It was introduced between allied forces in World War II.

This blog is a BZ to you.





Improving Emergency Management Communications with Starlink Satellite Internet

As the world develops closer links to technology, having reliable connectivity is essential for disaster management. Here we discuss the importance of maintaining communication during disasters and how satellite internet, specifically SpaceX's Starlink, can improve communication in disaster management. Ultimately, this blog post highlights satellite internet as one solution to provide reliable and fast internet connectivity to emergency managers in isolated and disaster-prone areas.

A breakdown in communication during a disaster is all too common. Nearly all case studies of disaster responses occurring in the last 30 years describe communication problems of some sort.

Bad communication (3)

Improving Disaster Communications

Enhanced communication is one of the key benefits of leveraging web-based emergency management software like D4H. Web-based means it requires an internet connection. Sure, capabilities exist when offline, but they will always be limited.

As the world develops closer links to technology, having reliable connectivity is essential for disaster management. Let’s explore how you can maintain the highest functionality from your web-based tools by ensuring your EMA or response team has a reliable internet connection.

Reliable internet for emergency management

Reliable Internet Options for Emergency Management

In the IT world, reliability is often synonymous with phrases like redundancy, availability, and quality management. In the disaster world, we need to assume what existed may no longer be available. The redundant connections all went to the same building, which is now gone. The land-based connections have a list of pre-conditions before they can operate, which may not exist during a disaster.

We need an alternative internet solution during a disaster.


Conditions for Internet Connectivity During a Disaster

  1. Availability: Disasters can occur in any area. The service needs to work from any location.
  2. Portability: We don’t know where or when services will become unavailable. Portability will ensure a prompt response includes quickly reconnecting online.
  3. Speed: The internet speed needs to meet our minimum needs. Simply being connected will not aid emergency management efforts if our tools delay our response.

Starlink as a Satellite Internet Solution for Emergency Management

SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet is a pioneering answer to emergency and disaster management. This system can rapidly provide high-speed internet connections in isolated areas, which has been demonstrated with success when natural disasters like hurricanes and floods occur. During such events, traditional internet connections may be hindered by the tragedy itself.

It should be noted that the system does require 3-4 amps or 40 watts of power to operate, which could be accomplished with solar + battery packs or a vehicle cigarette adapter.

How Does Starlink Work?

Starlink deploys low-orbit satellites to provide broadband service for people all over the globe. While most satellites orbit the planet at around 35,000km, Starlink satellites orbit at only 550km above the earth’s surface, a very low earth orbit.

Satellite internet for disaster management

Latency is the time it takes for information to travel between a satellite and the person using the internet on the ground. Because the satellites are so low, there is barely any latency with Starlink internet service, which allows for activities like video streaming, Zoom calls, and emergency coordination and management.

Satellite vs Cell Tower Coverage

Cell coverage

While cellular service shows increasing speeds, it is still limited by terrestrial towers, with each being a point of possible failure that still suffers from a limited coverage area.

Starlink offers coverage in 55 countries, with more to come. Standard internet providers require a direct wired connection that is often severed during a disaster. Cell phone services often require land-based towers, which are also susceptible to major outages during disasters. With Starlink, as long as you can see the sky, satellite internet service is available to you.

Since the satellites are independent of terrestrial networks they remain functional even if entire regions have lost power due to climate-related disasters and other emergencies. This can be incredibly helpful while restoring communication infrastructure which still requires quick access to online information.

Interested in learning more about climate resilience? Check out Climate Change Effects on Emergency Management.

A Portable Internet Solution for Emergency Management

Starlink offers an effective solution for portable internet as it works independently from ground networks and can be swiftly activated when a calamity happens. With its in-motion and portability capabilities, you could easily attach it to your mobile command post or have it ready to go in a backpack.

Once you set up in an area with an unobstructed view of the sky, Starlink automatically points in the direction that has the highest density of satellites, and it doesn’t need to move to track satellites across the sky.

Starlink Internet Speeds

Satellite internet is an excellent emergency management tool for improving communication and coordination during a disaster. It provides a steady internet connection at speeds similar to those found in urban locations, even during peak moments when conventional networks could become congested. In emergency management, this helps you ensure you can always get reliable access to up-to-date information without needing to worry about delays brought on by heavy traffic load on regular networks unable to cope with too much demand.

Why Not Use Satellite Internet for Everything?

One question that may come to mind is why not use satellite internet for everything? Satellite doesn’t compare to hard-wired land-based internet for day-to-day operations because it is much slower.

Fiber optic

If given the option, it is clear that fiber-optic, with 1000x the speed available, is the preferred internet choice but is highly unlikely to be operational during a disaster or in a remote location. The strength of satellite internet is to provide emergency managers with enough connection speed to get the essentials back online as soon as possible, regardless of location.

Starlink Satellite Internet is bringing a revolution to the way we access the web, with its global reach making it an ideal service for emergency management. Starlink is also continually adding more satellites into orbit which means more redundancy, less chance of congestion (slow speeds), and great opportunities for internet coverage in locations that once couldn’t receive any signals.

Other Satellite Internet Options

When it comes to satellite internet options, Starlink is undoubtedly a game-changer for emergency management agencies. However, it’s important to recognize that several other alternatives exist in the market. For fixed locations like Emergency Operations Center (EOC) buildings, options such as HughesNet and Viasat can provide viable alternatives to consider. Additionally, emerging projects like OneWeb and Amazon’s Project Kuiper are actively working on developing their own satellite internet networks, aiming to directly compete with Starlink. Another notable option is Iridium, which offers a low bandwidth satellite internet solution that can be useful in certain situations. By acknowledging the presence of these alternative providers, emergency management agencies can thoroughly evaluate their options and select the most suitable satellite internet service based on their specific needs and requirements.


When adopting emergency management software, we need to ensure we are maxing its effectiveness. If we want to maximize efficiency by utilizing use web-based tools, we need reliable internet connectivity for the best functionality.

Internet connected devices

If you are concerned that your EMA may be vulnerable to internet connectivity disruptions due to natural disasters, it is worth considering satellite internet as a way of providing redundant communication. Starlink satellite internet is an excellent option for emergency management. Its high-speed connection can be set up instantly and easily in places where other types of communications may not reach. This opens up a myriad of possibilities for those managing disasters and emergencies, ensuring that vital information can be shared quickly with partner agencies and the public.


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