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End the Mobile Phone Ban in Hospitals

Here are the standards, and the argument, to let people use cellphones in hospitals

3 min read

Does anyone know a doctor without a mobile phone? In the United States, according to a recent Harris Interactive poll, approximately 74 percent of the adult population subscribe to mobile phone service, and various sources estimate the average individual talk time per month is about 7 hours. Thus it is only logical that people bringing mobile phones and other transmitting personal electronic devices such as Blackberries, iPhones, and wireless laptops into hospitals have an expectation of using them. For doctors, these devices have evolved from a mere convenience to an essential part of medical practice. Patients and visitors are also increasingly dependent upon wireless communication, especially during times of happiness or crisis. But is the use of mobile phones and other transmitting devices in hospitals safe?

As the wireless revolution gathered steam at the end of the last century, many hospitals reacted to concern over electromagnetic interference with critical medical equipment by implementing precautionary bans on mobile phones throughout the facility. As policing of bans has become increasingly impractical and the benefits of wireless communication argue for a better solution, a growing number of hospitals have relaxed enforcement or adopted more liberal policies. Without an appropriate management strategy, however, the unrestricted use of mobile phones may make hospitals vulnerable to potentially dangerous, albeit uncommon, electromagnetic interference risks.

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Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
An illustration of a series
Carl De Torres

When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

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