Could you survive a day without Internet access? On Thursday, April 9th, vandalism of fiber optic cables in Santa Cruz, California cut out Internet and cell phone service for most residents and business owners. ATMs didn't work, some banks were forced to close their doors while others allowed one customer in at a time and attempted to assist them without the use of their computer systems, and most shops couldn't process credit or debit card payments.
Some shops would jot down customer credit card information to process once the computer systems were restored, but for customers who didn't trust strangers with their credit card details, they went without or resorted to using checks - something that many people have almost forgotten how to do!
The Wells Fargo branch on Mount Hermon Road was able to use emergency protocols to continue servicing customers, although things moved at a snail's pace and customers were waiting in line outside the branch for their turn. Customers of downtown Wells Fargo and Comerica branches weren't as lucky to wait though, and couldn't use their bank at all as they had to close down for the day.
A graphic designer planning to take a conference call while sipping a coffee at LuLu Carpenter's coffee shop was unable to reach her client without cell phone or internet access. Kevin Marlar of Marlar Construction said work came to a standstill as he waited for people to show up with building plans - nothing could be faxed, bids couldn't be received.
Our society has come to rely on internet and cell phone communications for everything from basic communication to payment processing to keeping a business running. When those communications stop - so do many businesses and the routines of everyone are affected.
Some businesses took advantage of the lack of internet and communication services and turned it into an opportunity for enterprise. The co-founder of NextSpace on Cooper Street took to riding his bike through downtown Santa Cruz, shouting out that the internet works at NextSpace - and provided day passes to individuals wanting to use the co-working office space and lounge. NextSpace uses Comcast internet, which apparently doesn't rely on the same fiber optic network that the rest of Santa Cruz uses, because it was one of the few providers that still offered services on Thursday.
"We saw a ton of people," Kabanagh, the chief operating office of NextSpace, said. "The refugees from the land of no Internet." Interested in visiting NextSpace?
NextSpace Tour from Margaret Rosas on Vimeo.
Also interesting was newspapers reported that their newspaper boxes emptied quickly as people purchased newspapers along Pacific Avenue in order to get news on a day when they couldn't get it from their internet connections.