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5 Years Ago

(October 4, 2006)

Net Guard

(October 5, 2001) The labor shortage is serious and exaggerated by current events. Here is one proposal for managing "surge" requirements.

Remarks of Senator Ron Wyden to the United States Senate
Proposing a National Emergency Technology Guard (NET Guard)

Senator Wyden chairs the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space.

I am interested in discussing with the Senate a proposition that I think is important in light of the tragic events that unfolded on September 11, 2001. As all of us understand now, the communications infrastructure of New York, Washington, DC, and indeed the whole country, was severely challenged.

Wireless telephone networks were severely overloaded and crashed. Wireless Internet access was suspended. Telephone lines were cut, and communications, for people literally in communities around the East Coast of the United States, came to a standstill. Even the immediate communication needs of rescue workers, victims, families and aid groups were a struggle to coordinate. Survivors often could not let family members know they were safe. Families of victims had no immediate central clearinghouse to find information or file missing persons reports.

Hospitals were inundated with searches, requests for help and offers of aid, but no way to match them to each other. Even some of our nation's premier aid organizations, who have done such a marvelous job helping rescue workers, survivors and victims' families, faced immediate and severe challenges with respect to information technology infrastructure. The New York Times drew a conclusion that I strongly agree with: There need to be new ways to set up emergency information systems.

That's what I'd like to propose. What this country needs is essentially a technology equivalent of the National Guard: a National Emergency Technology Guard - NET Guard - that in times of crisis would be in a position to mobilize our nation's information technology, or IT, community to action quickly, just as the National Guard is ready to move during emergencies.

In our leading technology companies in this nation, there are the brains and the equipment to put in place this NET Guard, that could be deployed across this country when we face tragedies like we saw in New York City. A national volunteer organization of trained and well-coordinated units of IT professionals from our leading technology companies ought to be in a position to stand ready with designated computer equipment, satellite dishes, wireless communicators and other equipment to quickly recreate and repair compromised communications and technology infrastructures.

With Congressional support, the leaders of our nation's technology companies could organize themselves, their employees, and their resources for this purpose. Medium and small-sized businesses would be able to contribute once a national framework was put in place. The resources from the federal level need not be extensive; people could be designated from existing human resource pools at major and medium sized firms and these IT professionals would be trained to perform specific tasks in the event of an emergency.

I intend to use the Subcommittee that I chair to initiate a dialogue among Congressional, corporate, military and non-profit leaders to begin a new effort to mobilize information technology in times of crisis. As we seek to prevent future disasters, I believe the technology professionals of this nation, like most Americans, want to use their skills, their equipment, and their talents to this call and do their part. I propose we give leading information technology professionals a chance to use their ingenuity and creativity to insure greater safety and stability for our communities and our citizens in the coming days.

John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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