Hierarchy of Needs

Here’s one for the kooks. As a point of reference, Government Computer News is some geek vanity press weekly that preys on the ga-zillions of dollars that the feds spend on technology. That’s where this came from.

Now here’s the rub. There is this Emergency Interoperability Consortium, that likes to use the acronym EIC. This meaningless acronym primarily signifies a relationship with the government, which–of course–pees all over itself in acronyms. But I digress.

Anyway, this Emergency Interoperability Consortium has this incredibly brilliant idea that what we really need during a catastrophic emergency of biblical proportions is a new flavor of XML, a Common Alerting Protocol. This is key because at a time of extreme emergencies, we expect people in governments that are not functioning because they HAVE NO ELECTRICITY, and, yes, their offices (including computers) were swamped and there’s no place to sit, to somehow enter information into a database so that we can magically get fire-trucks, bomb-sniffing dogs, and helicopters to where they need to be. Shoot, if it were that easy, why didn’t FEMA use XML to set up disaster recovery centers in Pass Christian, Miss.?

WHAT ARE THEY THINKING? I love geeks, but are some still unclear that people don’t have water six weeks after the hurricane? There was one voice of sanity in the article. Charles Werner, fire chief in Charlottesville, Va., and a geek himself, thought that it might be better to invest in practical first level stuff. Like investing in the primary systems of communications first. If we know Level 1 doesn’t work, couldn’t we just work on that?

What is better, being able to radio to someone what you need? Or how about a big complex system dependent upon electricity, internet access, trained staff that are missing or evacuated, and sensitive computer equipment?

To hell with meeting basic, physiological needs. The latter is a technology project, so let’s fund it.

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