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Rivada Survey: Only 13% of Americans Have Prepared for Disaster - but 72% would be willing to give up their cell phone reception to first responders

Date: 2016-10-17
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Rivada Mercury, a company bidding to build America’s first nationwide 4G LTE broadband wireless network for public safety, announced last week the results of a new survey which shows that only 13 percent of Americans are prepared to survive without government assistance for more than a few days in the event of a major natural disaster or attack. (In the case of major earthquakes and floods, it can take weeks to restore basic services, such as food, aid, and shelter.) 47 percent are prepared to sustain themselves through an emergency for “a few days.”

This may be caused in part by the perception created by TV shows such as 24 and CSI that showcase the use of high-tech wizardry and rapid response. Half of those surveyed believe law enforcement, firefighters, and EMS professionals benefit from similar technology, and 74 percent believe government agencies can rapidly respond to catastrophic emergencies. While many futuristic first response technologies do exist, adoption has been relatively low due to a lack of a reliable, purpose-built broadband network for first responders.


Humans: Heroes at Heart

When disaster strikes, commercial networks often fail, or are too congested for anyone to get through - including first responders. While people do love their phones, the survey showed that civic-mindedness prevails:

  • 72 percent would be willing to give up their cell phone reception to first responders
  • Majority (63 percent) believe first responders should get access to communications before the general public
  • 52 percent say they’d even let wireless companies block subscribers from their networks to help first responders communicate

“Americans clearly expect our first responders to have the best technology available to them, but they also understand the need to prioritize public-safety traffic in the event of an emergency,” said Joe Euteneuer, CEO, Rivada Mercury. “Overall, the survey results are encouraging for public safety as they demonstrate that consumers are comfortable with sharing a network on a sub-priority basis.”

This signals that we’re ready for a change in the way that our emergency systems are setup. As it is, wireless carriers can, and have, kicked first responders off of their network to service their subscribers. That coupled with towers that aren’t built to withstand floods or other damages, leaves first responders begging for a new network that will help them complete time sensitive missions.


The Government Responds

In 2012 Congress created and ordered FirstNet to build the first nationwide high-speed mobile network dedicated to emergency communications. This year, FirstNet issued an RFP for organizations to deliver the network. Rivada Mercury, a consortium of telco tech leaders, is among the project bidders. But according to the survey, only 11% of Americans know about the federal government’s plan for a nationwide public safety network.

While opinions on who should manage allocating bandwidth to first responders in disaster situations are evenly split between federal government and mobile phone companies, 43% would place greater trust in a new network designed specifically for first responders versus the 32% that would choose existing mobile phone companies. Nearly a third of those surveyed would feel unsafe if such a network were solely in the hands of a commercial provider.

Rivada Mercury has proposed a network-sharing approach to FirstNet that allows public safety absolute priority at all times, while allowing commercial access to the network when spare capacity is available. This flexible, efficient approach is made possible by Rivada Networks’ patented Dynamic Spectrum Arbitrage technology, which is designed to give emergency responders full network prioritization within a millisecond should a crisis strike.

More than 500 US residents aged 18-60+ participated in the Rivada Emergency Preparedness survey, conducted online during the month of August 2016.


About Rivada Mercury
Rivada Mercury is a U.S. company formed and supported by a group of global communications industry leaders. Rivada Mercury combines its founders’ deep technology and public safety experience to offer a self-funded, dedicated public-safety network that grants unfettered access to first responders. Its unique model dynamically optimizes bandwidth to sustain a commercial broadband market without impeding public-safety priorities. For more information, see:

- Corporate News/ (via Rivada Mercury, 10/11/16)



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