The growing role of mobile technology and social media in disaster management

At the height of tension triggered by North Korea’s threat against Guam in August, the island’s residents were riveted more than ever to their mobile phones which have largely supplanted the traditional media for information updates. In recent years, mobile communication is fast proving to be the most effective and efficient means of reaching the public and disseminating information during crisis.

Using mobile communication won’t be problematic for Guam, given the island’s a highly connected and progressive telecom sector. Guam had approximately 163,000 mobile phone subscribers in 2015, according to statistics from budde.com, Australia’s internet research website. Juxtaposing that tally with Guam’s 161,797 population during that year would indicate that the number of mobile phones on Guam exceeds the number of the people. Which means that every single person on island owned a mobile phone or two.

Research concluded that Guam is one of the most connected jurisdictions in the United States, with a mature and competitive mobile market being served by four providers: Docomo Pacific, GTA, IT&E Wireless and iConnect. Guam has a hundred percent mobile penetration and 3G/4G mobile technologies available. Considering that Guam is a target of nuclear attack and located along the path of regular natural disasters, a well-developed mobile communication infrastructure would certainly come in handy.

The Guam Homeland Security/Office of Civil Defen