Push-to-talk apps for disaster communications: Hurricane season brings technology adaptation


  • Alexander H. Chang, BA
  • Rabia Bega, MBBS Candidate
  • Edbert B. Hsu, MD, MPH




push-to-talk applications, Zello, hurricanes, disaster communication


Effective communication during disasters is essential for emergency management, responders, and impacted populations. Recent hurricanes have drawn attention to the potential utility of push-to-talk (PTT) applications with some such as Zello, garnering over 6 million downloads during the week prior to Hurricane Irma. PTT technology integrates a two-way radio system to transmit and receive messages via point-to-point communication lines. With rapid implementation of newer technology and applications often driven by anecdotal reports and the media, the actual performance impact of such technology in the face of disasters is challenging to assess. This article attempts to characterize advantages and limitations of PTT in the context of hurricanes through primary news article sources.

Author Biographies

Alexander H. Chang, BA

Visiting Student, Department of Emergency Medicine, Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR), Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. Maryland

Rabia Bega, MBBS Candidate

Visiting Student, Department of Emergency Medicine, Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR), Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. Maryland

Edbert B. Hsu, MD, MPH

Faculty, Department of Emergency Medicine; Associate Director, Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR), Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland


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How to Cite

Chang, BA, A. H., R. Bega, MBBS Candidate, and E. B. Hsu, MD, MPH. “Push-to-Talk Apps for Disaster Communications: Hurricane Season Brings Technology Adaptation”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 13, no. 3, July 2018, pp. 161-7, doi:10.5055/ajdm.2018.0297.




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