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RE: Katrina could inundate New Orleans

  • From: Matthew Kaufman
  • Date: Mon Aug 29 11:46:35 2005

Dave Stewart:
> Y'know... I do have to wonder whether Internet access is 
> nearly as important as power and communications (traditional 
> comms, such as the PTSN).
> Granted, it'll be interesting to see how things shake out - 
> but I just can't buy that getting the Internet working 
> should/will be a really high priority.

Back when I was running ISPs, we had several county and city Emergency
Operations Centers as customers... Either on T1 or frame relay for their
primary service, or as their "backup" dial-on-demand ISDN provider. These
connections were how the EOC got river gauge data for planning flood
evacuations (at the time, no other source other than having the numbers read
off from the state-level agency office over the phone if they weren't too
busy), USGS earthquake epicenter (also available over EDIS) and shake map
(Internet only) data, weather service radar and satellite images (backup was
TV broadcasts, if still on the air), and in some counties, the only access
to the hospital emergency room status tracking system used for
multi-casualty incidents... While there's more private data networks online
now, there's also more Internet-available data that the EOCs would like to
have access to, I'm sure (I know that some cities are using
Internet-connected webcams to do security monitoring, look at shorelines,

In many incident scenarios (and a few actual incidents), the priority was
that the radio system stayed up, then Internet access, *then* PSTN (and
having cellphone access to people in the field to supplement the radio
system was more important than landline calls to anywhere else). And power,
of course, is easily generated locally, so not a big priority at all.

Interestingly, almost none of the agencies told sales what the connection
was going to be used for... Only when engineering made a followup inquiry
would we learn that, yes, in an emergency, they'd like theirs fixed first
please, and yes, they'd need first dibs on the backup power if we didn't
have enough to run everything.

Matthew Kaufman

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