MeshForum ended with a great discussion of what happens when networks break, particularly in emergency situations. Howard Greenstein led the conversation with Sean O'Leary from FEMA (federal emergency management agency), Donna Erat (formerly of FEMA), and Rudy Garcia of Citi Group's business continuity organization. They all talked about the lengths they go to to establish relationships and common practices in preparation for disasters and emergencies.
The interesting thing that arose out of all their comments is that, in the end, successful emergency response comes down to having built trust amongst the responders. In emergency situations, the technical and transportation networks that one normally relies upon have been disrupted or destroyed. The only way to re-establish these networks may be to start from scratch with person-to-person contact. If there is trust and confidence in those people before a disaster, that relationship strength can be used during the disaster as well.