Module 2: Technology & Noise

After working through unit 1, you should begin to feel more comfortable on thinking about how what you say can create (and eliminate) noise, and begin thinking about how noise can reduced through the language you choose.

In this unit, we will be looking at how crises and disasters can affect the channels your team uses for communication, both internally among its own members and externally to communicate with the public or other response teams.

Often, disaster situations can overwhelm normal modes of communication. While a thorough description of various technologies is beyond the scope of this course, it is worth reviewing a few examples of technologies many teams rely on that can be affected by disaster situations:

The Goal

By the end of the module, you should be able to plan for the use of low-bandwidth text-messaging technologies for communication.

The Challenge

During this module, you will begin developing a plan for ensuring that your team is prepared to take advantage of low-bandwidth text-messaging technologies to ensure clear, effective communication. Your plan should identify a potential disaster situation and phase of response your team would normally plan for and identify situations and audiences your team would find useful.

If you need a refresher on the types and phases of disasters, take a look at this tutorial on disaster management concepts and terms from The University of Wisconsin.

The Resources


After reviewing definitions of bandwidth, begin this module by taking a look at the following tutorial from The University of Wisconsin's Disaster Management Center:

University of Wisconsin Disaster Management Center (1993). The aim and scope of disaster management, lesson 5: The technologies of disaster management. Retrieved March 31, 2006 from

Skim to the section on the role of communication technologies and make note of what role communications technologies play in disaster management and response.

Responder-Responder Communication

A number of writers have also begun to explore the use of low-bandwidth technologies and their use in disaster response. One especially good article is:

Peniston, B. (2006, January 30). A lesson from Katrina: Learn text messaging. Retrieved February 26, 2006 from

As you read, pay special attention to the specific challenges responders might face in a disaster situation in communication with their own team members as well as across teams.

Responder-Public Communication

You should also skim several of the following pages to explore how emergency response agencies are using text-messaging in innovative ways to reach other responders and the public:

Fairfax Count, Va. (2006). Community Emergency Alerts Network – FAQs. Retrieved March 12, 2006 from

Mine Safety and Health Administration (2006). Testing communication and locating devices for underground mines. Retrieved March 12, 2006 from

U.S. Department of Agriculture. Emergency communication tools. Retrieved March 12, 2006 from

As you review these pages, consider how your agency and team could use them in confronting public health issues in the wake of a disaster. You can also access this short FEMA tutorial on public information.


For this module, use the following guidelines to judge how to spend your time:

Remember not to neglect conference participation. This is an opportunity for you to interact with and learn from your instructor and classmates. Most students find conference participation essential to successfully completing their projects.