When Tropical Storm “Sendong” made landfall on Philippine cities Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, the government didn’t rely on the Internet to alert the surrounding area. Rather, the country’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council used text messages and the largely archaic fax machine to transmit urgent weather-related warnings to local government units.
With the prevalence of text messaging these days, and its capability to instantly transmit messages at rapid rates, it’s easy to comprehend why the government would rely on such a communications tool. But, what place does the fax machine – a mechanism that’s quickly being replaced by the ability to send information at rates of thousands of kilobytes per second over the Internet – have in all this? Well, according to Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte, a whole lot.
“Many ask why fax. Unfortunately, one of the most used modes of transmission in government is the fax machine,” said Valte, in a story on the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Following the arrival of Sendong, a storm so powerful that it dropped one month’s worth of rain over a 24-hour period in an area of the country rarely affected by typhoons and left a devastating 1,257-person death toll in its wake, the council found itself under fire for whether its actions gave residents enough time to react to the storm.
However, in addition to the fax transmissions to the local government units, Valte confirmed that several warnings via an emergency text system were issued to the public and local officials throughout several regions.
The council’s use of the fax machine is even more proof that the fax machine is, in fact, not dead, as echoed by FaxSIPit, a provider of a special VoIP replacement technology for fax. Despite predictions to the contrary, VoIP communications has not killed faxing. Businesses, healthcare providers, law firms, government departments and organizations still routinely use faxing.
But, is it really appropriate to use for time-sensitive and dangerous situations like an approaching typhoon? Definitely not, as there are more suitable environments that rely on it for business purposes.
“With certain vertical industries, there are requirements for digital signatures and legally binding documents,” noted Alan Percy, director of Market Development at AudioCodes (News - Alert), a FaxSIPit partner, during a recent webinar. “Real estate, legal, and government tend heavily toward fax. It’s part of their everyday business, and there is not a ubiquitous alternative service.”
On the other hand, fax may just be a reliable choice for communications in dire situations, only when a Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is used rather than T.38 ATAs (analog telephone adapters), which often produce latency and packet loss.
“HTTPS provides a level of reliability which is equivalent to TDM, while offering high level security,” FaxSIPit explained in a white paper. ”With HTTPS, FoIP can be as reliable as TDM faxing. Enterprises, governments and consumers alike can enjoy the cost savings and convenience of IP communications for both voice and faxing.”
To find out more about FaxSIPit, visit the company at ITEXPO East 2012. To be held Jan. 31- Feb. 3 at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami, Fla. ITEXPO (News - Alert) is the world’s premier IP communications event. Visit FaxSIPit in booth # 625. For more information on registering for ITEXPO, click here.
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Tammy Wolf is a TMCnet web editor. She covers a wide range of topics, including IP communications and information technology. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell