Norway has invested nearly NOK 6 billion (USD 750 million) in a new communications system for emergency services, but it hasn’t always worked during storms and power failures. Local mayors are furious, but state officials claim the system was built in accordance with cost specifications.
Around 50,000 households in southwestern Norway lost power during last weekend’s extreme weather system known as Knud. When the power went out, so did the digital communications system for the police, fire and health care services in portions of the Agder region.
Fully 22 of the 120 emergency network base stations were knocked out, according to the state preparedness agency DSB. Leiv Rygg Langerak, mayor of Bygland in Aust-Agder, recalled how heavy snow last winter also led to power- and communication failures for lengthy periods. The mayor of Lindesnes, which was hit by hurricane-force winds, called the communications breakdowns a “scandal.”
Justice Minister Tor Mikkel Wara claimed that the most important communications stations have battery capacity for 48 hours. “It’s a matter of costs,” Wara told state broadcaster NRK. “We can never completely guard ourselves against the weather.”