It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's the Internet?
Leave it up to Google, right?
Alphabet, the parent company of Google, announced last week that they hope to bring internet connectivity to disaster-stricken Puerto Rico via balloon-based connectivity nodes. Called "Loon," the balloon-based platform is the brainchild of Alphabet's Moonshot division--the people who are looking for innovative ways to bring internet access to the half of the world that is otherwise not currently connected.
While cool, this isn't Loon's first rodeo (so to speak). It's been deployed in other places for emergency cell phone connectivity before...internet access is a simple extension of that. In regions hard-hit by natural disasters where infrastructure has been decimated but communication is critical, Loon is more than just a neat idea...it's a qualified life saver.
So where's the asset management angle?
Emergency assets such as lifesaving equipment, ambulances, refrigerators, water purifiers, and generators are needed in places like Puerto Rico without interruption...especially during recovery efforts. Manual monitoring of such assets would draw resources away from lifesaving efforts. This means that traditional network-facilitated asset management techniques are still required...even when the traditional network is out of commission. Enter Loon. It's a floating beacon of internet-enabled hope in what would otherwise be a hopeless situation.
Well done, Alphabet. By day, you're a mild-mannered web search engine; when disaster strikes, however, you're faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound...all without a phone booth and a cape. Good on you.