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Re: automagic notifications and coordination...

From: William Waites <ww@groovy.net>
Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2007 20:48:49 +0200
To: paola.dimaio@gmail.com
Cc: Gavin Treadgold <gt@kestrel.co.nz>, W3C Disaster Management Ontology List <public-disaster-management-ont@w3.org>
Message-ID: <20070620184849.GB5780@haagenti.com>

On Wed, Jun 20, 2007 at 11:56:28AM +0700, paola.dimaio@gmail.com wrote:
>    Hi William
>    I did not see your post - did you post offlist?
>    Legitimate concern, and to infrastructure you are obviously referring to
>    the internet, I guess

Actually not, in this case I was referring to cellular and landline
telephones. In the wake of the hurricanes, the *entire* communications
infrastructure in the region was destroyed. The first things to come on
line were VHF repeaters, and as well a (repeaterless) HF (shortwave)
net was used for early coordination. Several weeks later some cell sites
were re-constructed but they quickly became overwhealmed (except perhaps
for some prioritized traffic).

>    Assume an emergency takes place where I am (I seem to have earthquale
>    follow me everywhere I go these days). My friends everywhere else in the
>    world will still be able to help
>    me better and faster  if they can pull up relevantly filtered information
>    using normal search engines and browsers.

Yes, assuming some visibility to the scenario on the ground. After
Katrina, the problem was compounded by a complete lack of information.
The only algorithm that worked was to send people out into the field
with radios, gps (the street signs were, for example, gone...) and some
note taking facilities (i.e. paper and pencils) and to report back with
what they could see.

Of course what was lacking was (1) a coordinated way of sending out such
teams (this was mostly done ad-hoc) and (2) a way to receive, categorize
and sort this information.

The main reason why I went to the Gulf Coast at the time was precisely
*because* of this lack of information -- even though my ADSL link in
Montreal worked perfectly well throughout.

Because of this almost complete lack of visibility (and other factors
that I won't get into here, but which tend to destroy all faith in
humanity), supplies and assistance couldn't be sent (on orders from the
"proper" places) to where they were needed. And food sits rotting, and
truckloads full of ice melt, etc. etc.

This resulted in, for example, the National Guard looting FEMA
warehouses for medical supplies to give to community clinics (set up by
volunteers in the effective absence of the ARC).

Of course communicating back to the people on the ground in this
scenario is diffuclt as well...

Cheers,
-w
Received on Wednesday, 20 June 2007 18:50:17 GMT

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