Practical Technology

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Surviving Disaster: Japan’s Internet


In the grand scheme of things, the fact that the Internet has, by and large, kept working in Japan despite earthquakes, tsunami, and potential nuclear reactor meltdowns, is very small. But perhaps it isn’t really that minor when you consider that for hundreds of millions of people wanting to know if friends and family are well, a simple e-mail, instant-message, or even a Facebook update can spell the difference between hours or days of worry and the relief of at least knowing their loved ones’ fate.

Unlike Egypt or Libya, where dictatorships found it all too easy to turn off the Internet, Japan’s Internet has largely stayed up in the face of disaster.

This is a credit to Japan’s robust Internet that has managed to keep running despite a 8.9 Richter scale earthquake and numerous powerful aftershocks, tidal waves, and all the havoc that such natural disaster play on a modern society’s infrastructure.

As Jim Cowie, Chief Technology Officer of Renesys, an Internet business analysis company wrote in his blog, “It’s clear that Internet connectivity has survived this event better than anyone would have expected. The engineers who built Japan’s Internet created a dense web of domestic and international connectivity that is among the richest and most diverse on earth, as befits a critical gateway for global connectivity in and out of East Asia. At this point, it looks like their work may have allowed the Internet to do what it does best: route around catastrophic damage and keep the packets flowing, despite terrible chaos and uncertainty.”

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