Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Readers Embrace 'Geek Corps' Idea

As far as many readers of the Advanced IP Pipeline are concerned, if someone wants to start a volunteer "Geek Corps" to assist with the technical recovery needs of Katrina-like disasters, they're ready and willing to serve.
The idea I put forth last week isn't necessarily new, nor is it unique. In fact, as several readers pointed out there already is an entity called GeekCorps, established to help build long-term high-tech-based economic development solutions for the developing world. According to one of the organization's managers, who was kind enough to email, while the group has no formal Katrina-related plans yet, some of the group's expertise in developing communication infrastructures for "off the grid" type places in Africa might also work well in rural areas of the U.S.

And while other readers pointed out several other examples of successful volunteer communications organizations -- including ham radio operators -- it became obvious in reading email after email that there are a lot of smart people who want to help in times of crisis by using what they know, instead of just writing a check and hoping for the best. I apologize for not responding to each one individually, but I will try to work through the long list because there are a lot of good suggestions and points to raise as we move forward. But the resounding overall take from the messages was: Tell us where to sign up, and we'll be there.

Knowing folks in the communications and networking industries, it's easy to guess why. Since there's nothing simple about getting even the "simplest" network up and running, you don't work in this field unless you enjoy a challenge and don't stop until everything's running as best as it can. I would further posit that wire-closet-heads are ideally equipped to deal with the less-than-perfect environment of a disaster recovery, since every network that's ever existed has by default some story of a meltdown -- and the people who fixed it.

(And many of us have been following the tales of the Interdictor, who embodies the can-do spirit of "keep the network running.")

Even as the Senate and other governmental bodies bicker about how much to spend on emergency communications, we shouldn't forget that no matter how much gear is bought, someone still has to figure out how it all works together. And in times of crisis, when minutes mean lives, not even the most well-compensated government contractors can produce the bodies necessary to get all the work done, fast. That's where the "Geek Corps," or whatever it may be called, will be needed to step in. Now all we have to do is figure out how to make it so.

  • 1