Lines of communication are channels through which people share information. The term is often used in discussions about military operations although it is also used in the corporate world to refer to internal communications structures, and the manner in which firms share information with clients. Sometimes lines of communication pass through specific individuals while in other instances, people use the term to refer to communications mediums such as phone lines of computer networks.
During political disputes, government agencies often attempt to establish lines of communication with rebel groups or protesters. The process begins when a representative from one of the parties attempts to make direct contact with someone who is involved with the other party involved in the dispute. Initially, communication lines may pass through a neutral intermediary and this individual must attempt to establish a direct communications line between the two parties. When both factions have agreed to enter into direct talks, an actual communication line such as a phone link or video conference must be set up. Therefore, communications lines in political or legal disputes often consist of both people and technology.
Lines of communication within the military arena are channels that both information and equipment can pass through. Armies must establish communications lines on the field of conflict so that different groups of soldiers and are able to remain in constant contact and assist one another. Military communications lines often include hubs such as forts or installations and these locations are linked by both physical links, such as roads and technological connections that may take the form of satellite phone connections or email links. When a war reaches its conclusion, military leaders on both sides usually develop lines of communication with one another so that a ceasefire or surrender can be agreed.
Corporations have lines of communication that enable company directors to communicate with lower ranking employees. Some communications channels such as corporate emails or intranet sites enable executives to connect directly with all of the firm's employees. In other instances, communication lines pass through several tiers of management in which case individual managers are used as conduits of information. Employees can also use emails or managerial chains of command to pass information to company executives.
Firms must establish lines of communication with clients. These may take the form of customer service help desks that are manned by employees who are equipped to address customer issues. Companies also use advertisements and marketing campaigns to pass information onto consumers about products and services but these types of channels only allow for one-way communications.