TECH

How Hurricane Sandy Impacted Internet Usage Through Netflix, Skype And More

Nov 03, 2012

Where did people go online as Hurricane Sandy approached the U.S. East Coast?

According to Canadian network equipment company Sandvine, the East Coast’s internet usage increased 114 percent on Monday, Oct. 29 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., prior to Hurricane Sandy’s destructive landfall. The company’s blog produced the "East Coast Internet Traffic Comparison" chart below, illustrating a massive rise in digital activity:

hurricane sandy internet usage

Sandvine’s internet usage data was taken from an unnamed U.S. city “that was directly in Sandy’s path,” per the company's website. The firm also found that traffic levels were elevated throughout the entire day, but began to dip after approximately 11 p.m.

The blog notes that “no single application was responsible for the surge.” Still, movie streaming site Netflix increased its traffic by more that 150 percent on the East Coast, Sandvine observed. CNN reported that Netflix viewing doubled on the East Coast during the storm, according to the company itself. Apparently, watching films via the internet was a popular pastime for cities like New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C as Sandy surged through.

ZDNET points out that social media sites were highly affected by the epic storm as well, with over 1.1 million people mentioning the word “hurricane” on Twitter within a 21-hour period of time. Photo-sharing app Instagram also saw a staggering number of uploads as 10 storm-related pictures per second were produced. By Oct. 30, 244,000 photos were posted under the hashtag #sandy, with another 23,000 pictures under #frankenstorm.

Sandvine also concluded that internet-based communication service Skype received up to a 122 percent spike in traffic. This makes some sense, considering the shoddy cell phone service many customers experienced in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. See the graph below for Skype statistics:

hurricane sandy internet usage

Were you on the internet more because of Hurricane Sandy? Did you use services like Skype or Twitter to stay updated? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below, or tweet us at [@HuffPostTech]. The learn more how Instagram is creating “beautiful” pictures of disaster, or read Hurricane Sandy horror stories.

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The Huffington Post is eager for insights from our community, especially people with experience in power, infrastructure and engineering, on the adequacy of emergency preparation in advance of Hurricane Sandy, and the degree to which past disasters have informed adequate planning and construction. Please send a note to sandytips@huffingtonpost.com with insights and suggestions for the important questions that need to be asked of relevant private sector and government officials, and point us toward stories that need to be pursued.

Hurricane Sandy

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