23 Days and Reporting

We ended up having a gap for today’s Silicon Valley Tale, so I thought I’d write about something not that close to home – The disappearance of Malaysia Air Flight 370.

Communication

I’m so confused by the communication strategy. It seems like every day some other person is holding a press conference about the condition of the search, the reasons behind the disappearance or some garbage floating in the ocean.

Is this reporting style an impact of the twitter-era, real-time news world that we’ve come to live in? It’s been 23 days of leading headlines – the majority of them erroneous.  I think everyone wants resolution on the situation but this has frankly been painful. I don’t blame the families in China for wanting absolute truth of the plane’s demise.

Speaking of: shouldn’t this be about the families and company’s responsibility to account for the situation? Every day some new country, company or private citizen comes forward and frankly just creates a lot of noise and mis-information.  At this point, there’s very little opportunity for anyone to come out a hero in this situation.

Technology

As a child of the Silicon Valley boom, it’s almost incomprehensible that in this day and age, there is no “real” way to track the location of this plane.  If you take Edward Snowden at his word, we are being tracked every minute of every day from the purchases that we make to our physical location via our smartphones.

March 20, Malaysia Air, Flight 370 Search Zone Courtesy of cbsnews.com

They have millions of dollars of equipment invested in airplanes. How is it that  everything is still dependent on the little black box?  No one ever thought to push that information into the cloud?  If nothing changes, in 7-10- days when the black box transponder batteries fail, these poor families will be out of luck. The industry will have to defer resolution of the situation to satellite data analysts inventing a new mathematical model to track satellite waves bouncing off the ocean.  I guess that’s better than nothing.

Helplessness

Seeing that same headline every day makes me feel helpless. Satellite data, radar data and 20 countries commitment to search. There’s still nothing. They are left to use ships and airplanes to do a physical search using map grids in the largest area ever undertaken – and it took them 23 days to get this far.

After 9/11, I heard that it takes a tragedy to make significant changes in the way companies and countries do business.  I hope the airline industry takes this head-on, so that no future family has to endure a marathon of pain. Otherwise, we might as well start talking about a new Bermuda Triangle.

 

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