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CIO: What Will You Do When the Cyber-Levee Breaks?

What would you do in the event of the failure of the Internet?

I used to think about this kind of thing more often but maybe I've become too accepting of the distributed nature of the Internet as a safety measure. This article got me thinking about an EMP pulse or a small nuke knocking out a major portion of the Internet...say a few backbones in Chicago or something. Not having an Internet connection often brings my work to a complete halt...let alone operations at most businesses.

I'm growing weary of complete communication failures during traumatic homeland events: 9/11, Katrina, etc. Shouldn't local or state government contract with private industry to get satellite phones to major incidents within 4-6 hours? I mean, how hard can this be? C'mon. Or portable Wi-Fi / cellular towers. Whatever.

Technology aside, I think the bigger problem is lack of leadership. The average person lacks a sniff of a clue about what actions to take during a crisis situation. Politicians, who typically assume "control" during a crisis, are arguably the very worst folks to be in charge. They spend their careers assuaging constituents and trying to keep office rather than getting things done, organizing projects, and leading people.

I think we should train and maintain a network of "incident commanders" within our cities. These folks would know how to re-establish communications, would be aware of all their resources, would have ties to the federal government but would be based locally, and they would know how to lead people and solve problems. They wouldn't necessarily assume control but would work with local government to truly manage the crisis.

Rudy G. performed brilliantly during 9/11 but only because he had consciously put himself through leadership and contingency planning for years prior. We need more folks with leadership talents on the front lines during major incidents and we need to better utilize the smart folks and advanced technologies at our disposal.

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