mtthwhgn phone home…

mtthwhgn phone home…

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I doubt I’ll be alone in confessing that E.T. makes me cry. Especially that part where he’s getting frustrated that he can’t contact his family.


Now, anthropomorphic aliens aside, I think there is a resilience message here. (Yes, I can pretty much get a resilience message from any TV or Film – feel free to challenge me!)

Imagine yourself in his situation, due to a turn of events, lets say a disaster; you’re unable to get in touch with your friends and relatives, or find out information via the internet or social media. This could happen for a variety of reasons – the sheer number of people trying to use the network could cause overloading, similar to the effect observed every year on New Years Eve.

It could also occur because your phone has been damaged or the battery runs flat as you’re using it. This is a particular problem for smartphone users as many of the apps suck battery life even in sleep mode, and research from Purdue University suggests that even “a fully charged phone battery can be drained in as little as five hours”.

Being a committed emergency planning professional, I practice what I preach and have a Zombie Apocalypse Bag ready and waiting. Two of the items in this bag are designed to enable me to charge my phone, so you’d think that would be enough. However, an article in the New York Times yesterday, summarising research from the Electric Power Research Institute, has made me question how effective these solutions would be – answer: not very.

  • From my solar charger – I’d need 6-8 hours of sunlight to charge a phone by 25%.
  • From the hand cranked charger with built in torch – I’d need to continually crank at a rate of 2 cranks per second for two and a half hours to get the same, 25%, level of charge.
  • I don’t have a car, but if I could use a cigarette lighter socket charger, then I have a reasonable chance of getting 25% charge within an hour – but it does present risks of draining the car battery and might need to be done in a ventilated area.
  • If I had a battery charger, I could get a 15% charge in 30 minutes, which sounds like a much more effective rate of charge – but would require me to invest in a supply of long-life AA batteries

This post was originally written for my work blog, where I posed a question to readers about what I could do to improve my own resilience. I’ll bring you a breakdown of the responses soon (because this site needs some graphs!).

But for now, how much do you rely on your phone? Have you considered what you’d do without it?

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