As covered by Time magazine’s article “The Navy’s Flying Fax Machine: The Way Back to the Future“, In a recent Navy contract inquiry, there has been a request for a fax machine capable of operation at 10,000 feet, as well as a number of other interesting features, such as ability to operate in a helicopter environment, tested as safe to occupants in an explosive decompression test, and of course operating with plain paper and functionality as a network printer and scanner.
While this isn’t the first time the military has required high end faxing equipment, having in the past purchased fax machines that cost $421,000 with a total price tag of $668,000 once all upgrading had been completed, or the requirement of fax paper that costs $100 a roll.
While we will never truly be told what the purpose of a helicopter based fax machine is, we can speculate. As modelling a business or an organization off of one that is highly successful in it’s own area is often one of the best ways to help an organization succeed, there is no better organization than the U.S. Military when it comes to communications as well as disaster recovery & management.
With that, there are two lessons to be learned for planning an organization’s communications and disaster recovery plans:
- To observe that the U.S. Military, who has probably spent more time and consideration on communication technology and security, likely has decided that some messages are too important to be communicated over the internet, and that fax technology is still the best way to communicate instantaneously and keep the message “off the web”
- That the U.S. Military, who has also spent more time preparing for the “unexpected” than any other organization on earth, has likely determined that having multiple methods of communication is the best way to ensure that communications stay intact in the event of a disruption, and that having the ability to operate off of the internet, even from a helicopter, is an important capability.