Continued from page 1
Telecommunications and information technology are key components in our ability to respond to disaster. As real time information is collected, it is available immediately to all participants in relief effort. Other technology – in particular military technology, can easily serve a duel use purpose in a disaster. The same troop transports designed to carry soldiers to war can carry refugees from a disaster. The same photo reconnaissance aircraft used to spy on enemies can provide a clear view of extent of damage. The same technology used to collect electronic intelligence can locate attempts to use mobile phones, radios, and even audio signals of people stranded in remote areas. Infrared scanning used to identify enemy soldiers in a bunker or building can just as easily locate a family stranded in a jungle.
If you compare current response to Indian Ocean tsunami to effects of tsunami damage following eruption of Krakatoa volcano in 1883 (http://www.drgeorgepc.com/Vocano1883Krakatoa.html ), you can see extent of damage from that disaster was not even known for several decades.
In most cases disaster cannot be predicted. We are making progress predicting earthquakes, hurricanes, and eruptions – however science is no closer to effective disaster prediction than we are in fully understanding human genome. Through effective use of communications, information technology, and duel use military/civilian technology transfer, we are getting much closer to reducing level of pain following an event.
2005 will be a big year in further exploiting potential of Internet and communications-related technology. Given positive moves toward regional cooperation in activities such as MPAT, we should be encouraged our governments understand need and role of technology in planning – was well as responding – to regional disaster.
John Savageau is a managing director at CRG-West, responsible for managing operations and architecture for several of the largest telecommunications interconnect facilities in the US, including One Wilshire in Los Angeles