New York Times: "City Council members and state lawmakers are finding that something as simple as sending a mailing to people in the district about relief services has become a logistical thicket. Many of the address lists vanished when computers were submerged, and even if they could be found, the addresses are often meaningless. Information can be posted on the Internet, but some evacuees do not have access to computers."
Yes, they don’t all have access to computers. But giving those who want access to the Web is easier than giving them access to infrastructure that depends more on physical presence. Yesterday someone sent me a Fed Ex package that was supposed to arrive by 10 am. It didn’t get to my office until 4:30 pm. But at least it beats the mail. You never know when, or if, that will arrive.
The Internet is the best way of informing communities, assuming people have access to it and know how to use it. Every day I spend in New Orleans I’m more convinced of this. Which is why I think the city should focus on how to provide some kind of free Internet access around the city (anyone thinking Wifi here?). And then we need more resources like KatrinaHelp and OJR’s Online Coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Isn’t it funny that ordinary people can put together these sorts of resources quickly and at little cost? You would think that government could do it too, but then you start to get the impression that governments don’t have much expertise when it comes to rapid deployment of inexpensive solutions.