This week’s 5.6 earthquake in Los Angeles created what’s known in our industry as a “mass calling event” — no, that’s not when your priest calls you to get to church — it’s when the volume of calls going through the telephone networks skyrockets very quickly, exceeding the capacity of the networks.
We design the networks to have enough capacity for the business Christmas, New Years, Superbowl, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, e.g. busiest calling days of the year, but enough to handle the kind of traffic we saw in the wake of the quake. But in an emergency, customers reach for the phone. For example, Sprint saw an 800% spike in call volume following the quake.
My instinct immediately after the quake was to use Twitter to alert the customers and reporters who follow me to important network information.
Here’s some of what I shared in real time:
- Colleague in LA just emailed saying she just felt an earthquake. She is in Encino. Anyone heard anything?
When I commented on Biz’s blog that evening, the other Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsey, posted a tweet announcing that Sprint was on Twitter.