Former FCC Head: In Times Of Crisis, Open WiFi Can Keep Us Connected

Michael Morisy | | June 6, 2013

After the Boston Marathon bombings, the traditional cellular networks went down hard and fast. Could generous strangers and ad hoc access help us weather the next disaster without losing touch?

The ideas are not new or untested, but recently two heavyweights, former Federal Communications Commission chair Julius Genachowski and Harvard professor Jonathan Zittrain both backed using Boston as a wireless testbed before the next time such a plan is needed.

“Whether in the United States or elsewhere in the world—where we have seen authoritarian governments seek to disrupt traditional communications when they fear their own publics—mainstream consumer hardware and software can become a foundation for resilient interaction among people during a crisis and an innovative part of the solution to this very real challenge,” the pair wrote in an editorial for MIT’s Technology Review. “Let’s make Boston the first city where these networks are operational.”