A major earthquake hit Virginia yesterday. It was 5.9 on the Richter scale and was felt across the entirety of the east coast of the United States. In times of national emergencies such as this one, wouldn’t it be nice to have one national system for communications?

Even in this age of technology and communication, there are still many drawbacks to our modern communications. Cell phone towers cannot handle hundreds of thousands of people calling at once. This means that even emergency personnel may not be able to communicate with each other.

Wouldn’t it be easier if there was a national conference call that everyone could dial in to to get information? If you were trapped in a building you could call that number to report your location. Family members could call that number to get the exact location of a terrorist attack, or the epicenter of an earthquake. It could take about two minutes for a family to learn that their loved ones weren’t in the area, or if they should worry.

911 is like that system in a way, but it too can get clogged up with phone calls quickly. A lot of concerned citizens might be calling in to report the same events and those who are in the most need of emergency help may not get it. There might even be a system where 911 is reserved for citizens who want to report an emergency, and another number for those who need help or information.

Conference calls are great because anyone with access to the number can call in. All a person would have to do is call in and they could communicate with anyone else on the line. As long as there was phone access to that number, emergency personnel and others can get in touch. The President could even call in and address the nation over the phone if everything else was knocked out.

A national conference call system could be an innovative way to ensure that communication is possible in critical times. There is no time during an emergency to have to sit through busy signals, or wait precious minutes for information. Not knowing where to go, or not knowing where a critically injured person is, could be the difference between life and death.

Written by Benjamin Willis