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The RoBlog
Monday, June 20, 2005
The Internet in an Emergency
[NOTE: This is the first article that's come out of an experiment I'm doing using Wiki's as a way to formulate thoughts. This one came out fully formed, so it's kind of a cheat, but the Wiki space will hopefully help thoughts grow more organically rather than having to come out complete. Check it out if that seems interesting.]

I've been doing some work on an information system for my neighborhood, so issues relating to information flow in a geographic area have been floating around my head a bit.

It occurred to me that if there is an emergency in a neighborhood or city, that restoring Internet access is increasingly critical.

Given that people are already using the Internet as a primary means of communication, with VoIP capturing an increasing number of users every day, restoring Internet to an effective area has become at least as important as restoring phone service.

Given it's ability to coordinate groups and disseminate information, it is becoming as important as restoring power (though there is a ways to go yet), and it's importance will only increase over time.

I wonder if our neighborhood emergency plan (or the city plan covering our neighborhood) includes an emphasis on getting some semblance of the Internet back up after a disaster. I'd guess not given the wide range of providers and mechanisms involved. For example, do you bring up cable first? DSL? Cellular?

Probably it makes better sense to create a few satellite uplinks where people could bring their increasingly portable computers and connect in pre-determined locations.

Does your community include a plan for restoring communications in an emergency? Does it include the Internet?

Let me know. I'd be interested to hear about it, how it works, and how it got in to the plan.
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