Cover: Recovery Plan for the Communications and Information Technology Sector After Hurricanes Irma and Maria

Recovery Plan for the Communications and Information Technology Sector After Hurricanes Irma and Maria

Laying the Foundation for the Digital Transformation of Puerto Rico

Published Sep 30, 2020

by Amado Cordova, Ryan Consaul, Karlyn D. Stanley, Ajay K. Kochhar, Ricardo Sanchez, David Metz


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Research Questions

  1. What is the nature and extent of damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria to Puerto Rico's communications and information technology sector?
  2. What are the sector's top-level needs and how can they be most efficiently and effectively met, both in the short term and with a view toward long-term benefits and the sustainability and resilience of infrastructure?
  3. How will these needs and priorities be addressed by specific COAs?
  4. How will the COAs contribute to the digital transformation of Puerto Rico?

After the devastating 2017 hurricane season, the U.S. Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center supported the congressionally mandated economic and disaster recovery plan, Transformation and Innovation in the Wake of Devastation: An Economic and Disaster Recovery Plan for Puerto Rico. This report contributes to the overall plan with a focus on the communications and information technology (IT) sector.

Researchers provide an introduction to the sector (brief history, key assets, prestorm conditions and challenges, and governance); assess damage and needs of the sector; and present 33 courses of action (COAs) for the recovery, rebuilding, and enhancement of the sector with an emphasis on developing and sustaining a resilient, state-of-the-art communications network and furthering the vision for the digital transformation of Puerto Rico.

Developed in consultation with a wide variety of stakeholders, including governmental entities, commercial providers, citizens, and municipalities, the COAs address many different (and sometimes competing) needs and also support and benefit COAs in other critical sectors, such as health and social services. The relationships among the communications and IT COAs are outlined. The estimated cost for these COAs is $3.2 billion. Potential sources of funding are also included in the report.

Key Findings

Puerto Rico must develop and implement a state-of-the art, survivable, resilient communications infrastructure

  • This infrastructure is essential for continuity of essential government functions and the provision of public safety services and must be well maintained and fully resourced.
  • It must provide commercial telecommunication services, including voice and data services, to residents and the private sector and support affordable access to broadband internet service and emerging technologies throughout Puerto Rico.
  • It is crucial for furthering the economic and social vitality of Puerto Rico and should thus host applications and web services that foster government and private-sector innovation, increase economic opportunity, and improve the quality of life for the residents of Puerto Rico.


  • This report details 33 specific COAs addressing the needs for recovery of the Communications/IT sector in ways that are sustainable and resilient; describes how they build on and support one another; and explains how COAs will further the economic development of Puerto Rico and the wellbeing of its residents.

This research was sponsored by FEMA and conducted within the Strategy, Policy and Operations Program of the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.