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How Telcos and ISPs Are Preparing For a Pandemic

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the virus-protection-for-real-life dept.

Communications 107

alphadogg writes "Network operators and IT professionals already worried about how hurricanes and financial meltdowns will impact their work lives can add another potential catastrophe to their list of concerns: a global pandemic. During a panel sponsored by the FCC in Washington, D.C. this week, representatives from telecom carriers and ISPs discussed what steps they've been taking to prepare for the mass outbreak of a disease such as influenza, and also described the needs and challenges they would have to meet to keep communications up and running during a major global crisis. The most important tool at ISPs' disposal during a serious pandemic, panelists agreed, was that of network and bandwidth management controls."

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Wait (3, Informative)

PunkOfLinux (870955) | more than 5 years ago | (#25085955)

How, exactly, does a global pandemic affect a network? Why would they need network management tools in case of such an event?

Re:Wait (4, Interesting)

Feanturi (99866) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086005)

I think they just want to make sure they can keep overselling their bandwidth while being able to restrict it from all the evil pirates under the guise of controls for "just in case" there's some big calamity.

Re:Wait (4, Insightful)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#25087997)

Actually a network requires constant maintenance and repairs (and adjustments when some script kiddie starts dossing). Not to mention power supply (which means diesel distribution) and staffing of the NOC's. A good network will keep working once the last guy dies for about 48 hours or so, even though some parts will remain operational for much, much longer.

If it didn't everybody and their dog would have a global network.

Re:Wait (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25092735)

I suspect the phone-lined-based ISPs will be the last to fall.   As long as your phone still works, you should be able to still connect to AOL or Netscape, even after the cable, FiOs, or DSL routers have stopped working.

Re:Wait (1)

huge (52607) | more than 5 years ago | (#25091667)

I think they just want to make sure they can keep overselling their bandwidth

Do you really think that it is possible to run a profitable ISP without overselling?

Re:Wait (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25092791)

Yes.

But if you do not oversubscribe, you'll have a smaller customer base, and then you'd either have to charge $100 a month to cover the increased expenses (per user). Or set realistic speeds of 100 kbit/s for a $15 a month rate; 500 kbit/s for $30 a month rate, because your company will have slower backbone connections.

Re:Wait (4, Funny)

shadow42 (996367) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086017)

Obviously because the fight against online piracy comes before major health concerns. Who cares about a fatal illness when the guy next door is downloading Iron Man?

Re:Wait (3, Insightful)

infonography (566403) | more than 5 years ago | (#25087961)

If there is a Pandemic I am going to be holed up in my place downloading Iron Man.

Networking in a Pandemic is damn well important.

Re:Wait (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25086019)

I think a pandemic might be the wrong event, but disaster preparedness probably is not.

If you'll recall September 11th and a few days after, there were major issues with traffic getting to certain service providers. CNN.com basically melted down--I recall ESPN's website actually carrying news headlines to try and take load off the overloaded news site.

Fast forward 7 years. We consume a lot more bandwidth these days with the rise of streaming video, VOIP, etc. And the network backbone hasn't grown as fast, so there's less network capacity.

Now, let's say Bird Flu jumps to humans, and 500 cases are identified in New York city, with possible cases in Chicago, London, Atlanta, and Paris. Think about the demand for information. And think of the need for authorities to convey information to the public in as close to real time as possible (quarrentines, vaccination sites, curfews, etc.). Would the network infrastructure we have in place allow effective communication in a situation where it will save lives?

It's worth asking the question, IMO.

Re:Wait (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25086385)

CNN.com (and many other sites) melted down because their servers and own network could not handle the load. The average website is not designed to be ultra-efficient (e.g. as light as possible on network/server capacity), which means that whenever huge numbers of people flog to the site in question, it is essentially DDoS'ed by it's own design. CNN solved it by turning to a dressed down simple site without the fluff. So did many other sites. The other issue (for european users) was that most traffic was routed through a NY-location which was no longer up after the attacks.

Second, I guess it depends on where you live, but network backbones can pretty much keep up with the growth, if properly invested in. AFAIC, the whole discussion in US (and some other countries) about broadband and internet infrastructure is all about ISP's trying to move from investing in the network to selling bandwidth off as a scarce commodity to make shareholders happy.

AFAIK, this is nothing more than a backdoor for ISP's to implement network monitoring, traffic shaping and start working to an internet where bandwidth is virtually scarce.

In the case authorities need to convey information to the public in as close to realtime as possible, we have old-fashioned tv and radio. That is what broadcast-media are well suited for. Providing masses with information in a short time in a reliable manner. AFAIK, the fact that people start scouring every online newssite is more a panic reaction.

Re:Wait (3, Insightful)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086771)

What these sites need to do is have some sort of overload mode that kicks in when a major disaster occurs that would otherwise kill the site.

When hits per second exceeds some specific number, stop serving so many ads and images. Don't serve video. Serve text (news stories) and small images only. Switch to static HTML pages for the front page and major stories.

Not to mention, STOP telling people watching television to go check out the website. That's idiotic; they're ALREADY WATCHING YOU ON TV! Why direct them to the website and load it down further? I remember on 9/11 itself, CNN telling folks to "check out the latest on cnn.com" when cnn.com was *STILL DOWN* from the load!

If they took these measures they'd be able to keep serving pages in a crisis and not become useless like they did on 9/11.

I'm certain they've learned from their mistakes and have implemented something like this.

Re:Wait (2, Informative)

dapyx (665882) | more than 5 years ago | (#25088211)

I remember that a few hours after the attack, CNN had a plain-text main page.

That's the only solution in case of disaster: currently, the CNN main page has 18181 bytes and a further 689153 bytes of inline elements (images ,js, css, etc).

Re:Wait (3, Informative)

ultranova (717540) | more than 5 years ago | (#25088689)

When hits per second exceeds some specific number, stop serving so many ads and images. Don't serve video. Serve text (news stories) and small images only. Switch to static HTML pages for the front page and major stories.

Or simply have two servers. One serves text (HTML and CSS), the other images, video and other fluff. That way the readers can read the stories, and the images load if they will. You could even share the image server between several newssites; they'll be the same content anyway. And you'd want your router to give absolute preference to the packets from the text server, so the images and videos can't clog the pipe.

And all the pages should be static HTML anyway, with the content management system simply automatically re-generating them as needed. Updates in a newssite happen relatively rarely compared to views, so it makes sense to optimize for the latter.

Coming to think of it... It would probably require server tweaking, but since we're talking about very small text files, it might be possible to keep the whole front page and every story in it memory mapped. Then you'd simply send them to the socket directly from there, without needing to open the file.

Re:Wait (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25092845)

There used to be a time when sites were designed for a 28k phoneline modem. Site images were run through image compression software to shrink them from 50k downto 5k (via reducing the color palette). Videos only loaded upon *user request* rather than automatically.

Today web designers are (mostly) lazy. They throw-up images that are 50-100k in size when they could be optimizing them downto 5-10k. And instead of small animated GIFs, they use gigantic flash videos (imdb.com is the worst in this respect; it's nigh-impossible to view over a phone line modem).

Webmaster have become bandwidth hogs, when if they just took a little time, they could shrink most images/ads to one-tenth current sizes.

Re:Wait (1)

u38cg (607297) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093785)

When 9/11 happened I was staying out in the country, with no TV. Slashdot was for most of the day the only news site that didn't fall over and managed to keep updating. This was rather important to me at the time, because my mother was on a plane to Miami around that time.

small pox (1)

TechQ (654704) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086973)

Bird flu is not a worry. (as planned) Where is your mark on your arm from the small pox shot?
TechQ

Re:small pox (1)

infonography (566403) | more than 5 years ago | (#25088007)

Bird flu is not a worry. (as planned) Where is your mark on your arm from the small pox shot?
TechQ

Exactly, Bird Flu isn't nearly as dangerous as Acquired Gullibility Syndrome. [cnn.com]

Oh wait.....

Re:Wait (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 5 years ago | (#25088357)

Thats got nothing to do with the network and everything to do with not having enough servers.

Re:Wait (4, Insightful)

db32 (862117) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086027)

You clearly have not been in any kind of call center during any kind of panic generating event. You do realize that the phone systems had huge problems keeping up with the 9/11 volume of traffic. Everyone calling everyone trying to check to see if everyone is ok. Everyone clicking refresh every 30 seconds on a dozen news sites trying to get the latest news. Nothing gets us monkeys chattering like something that spooked us.

I can easily see a need for this kind of stuff. Further, you have to assume that in a global pandemic situation that your own staff may be getting infected too. You need tools that you can use to manage large networks with only a small staff.

Re:Wait (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086349)

"you have to assume that in a global pandemic situation that your own staff may be getting infected too. You need tools that you can use to manage large networks with only a small staff."

I can asume that ISPs are not charitables and they are there for the profit. Since most civilized countries stubbornly insist on having laws forbidding slavery, all ISPs pay wages to their employees so their operation costs grow as the number of such employees. There's no need for a pandemic in order for an ISP wanting to operate on a staff as small as possible.

Re:Wait (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086395)

you've just made a compelling argument for cutting off bandwidth. In national emergency when lines are saturated, idiot bothers 911 center with stupid requests, cut them off for twelve hours, and if a real emergency arises in that time them they can fuck off and die. who needs high maintenance stress puppies? no one, that's who. idiots clog adsl lines hitting too many news videos, cut them off. no problem.

Re:Wait (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 5 years ago | (#25088843)

I can easily see a need for this kind of stuff. Further, you have to assume that in a global pandemic situation that your own staff may be getting infected too. You need tools that you can use to manage large networks with only a small staff.

And once it has those tools, the ISP will kick out the now-unnecessary persons, and again only have the bare minimum personnel needed. A market-driven corporation will optimize for costs, not reliability. Having surplus capacity is necessary to handle crisis, but maintaining it costs money, so companies will try to have as little as they can get away with; this usually means cutting down on capacity until the resulting service outages have enough customers leave to become more costly than maintaining the remaining capacity.

This is one of the reasons why anything important can't be left to be directed by market forces. They optimize for cost with absolutely no regard for long-term effects or crises. Anything that must work reliably - power, communications, etc - must be regulated. Anything that isn't, will break down at the first sign of trouble.

And yes, that means that libertarianism is not workable in reality. The Invisible Hand is a simple automaton, it doesn't have Invisible Brains so it can't actually think about what it's doing, any more than the computer you're reading this on can. It cannot take into account things like needing to maintain domestic food production sufficient to feed the population so it won't starve in the case of an international crisis, or sizing the power grid so it can take one or two plants going down. It can't understand the long-term effects of outsourcing manufacturing to foreign countries; and it doesn't know or care about the devastating effects of monopolies.

Mod me down for speaking against your fantasies, Rayndians.

Re:Wait (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 5 years ago | (#25089397)

Operating efficiently and operating at minimal manning are not even REMOTELY the same thing. Just because something can be done with minimal resources doesn't mean that is the most efficient way. Businesses do not optimize for cost, though cost is a major factor in what they do optimize for. They optimize for profit. Reliability is a part of profit because if your service sucks ass it doesn't matter how cheap you can run it, consumers will go elsewhere.

Now, as far as your regulation, you are mostly right. Consumers can't just go elsewhere to get power, water, or other critical services, especially so during time of crisis. Now, in terms of telecommunications (since that is what the issue here is) if it wasn't such a God damned nightmare of monopoly in any given market this would all be non issue. A monopoly CAN optimize for profit by optimizing for (nearly) only cost. Your consumers can't go elsewhere so you don't have to compete in terms of reliability or other factors. I do agree that critical services need some oversight and regulation because of this. All other services should only be dealt with such that it ensures that there is competition so that optimizing for profit includes more than just optimizing for cost. This benefits everyone on both sides because as consumers you get the best service when companies have to compete for your business, and when a business has to optimize for competitive forces rather than just cost you have more people employed and you have more people/companies doing more productive things and moving forward.

Re:Wait (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086065)

networks are our lifeblood even more important than actual transportation. Drastic events can be mitigated greatly with COMMUNICATION. With careful planning we could keep from having other problems as well. We have communication channels available that didn't exist last time mass outbreaks like the Plague occurred. Keeping places connected to their governments and researchers is direly important, but when society breaks down how do you protect people from digging up your copper? Or protect the repair workers from mobs and disease. Or get repair materials to hostile/toxic territory.

Re:Wait (4, Insightful)

phoenixwade (997892) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086141)

How, exactly, does a global pandemic affect a network? Why would they need network management tools in case of such an event?

Assuming this isn't rhetorical or Trolling, I'll take a swing at answering your questions.

A pandemic drastically reduces the manpower available to operate and repair the technology. At the same time it Increases traffic across all the networks because, the theory is, more people at home or in shelters means more traffic and load on the networks with fewer technicians to manage the services and keep them operating.. Solid management tools allow fewer technicians to manage more equipment remotely.

    Though it wasn't extremely clear, the article DID give you that information.

Re:Wait (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 5 years ago | (#25090389)

I don't think SysAdmins can get that kind of virus on Second Life.

Actually, I heard our state's person in charge of this sort of thing talk a couple years ago. Rapid quarantine is key to limiting exposure in the population, and anything that can provide greater virtual access to quarantined homes is a good thing. A second reason why quarantine will be widespread is because we have no more infrastructure to handle emergency cases than they had last time when they were setting up cots in armories.

Re:Wait (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086157)

Replace "network and bandwidth management controls" with information control. It's about assuring that only "authorized"information is transmitted anywhere. Kinda like the way the government uses the emergency broadcasting system for TV and radio.

This is only a test...

Re:Wait (3, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086297)

Well, it's not quite the same. The reason for the EBS (and the old Conelrad system which predated it) is that TV and radio provide a strictly limited number of channels to the populace, and they get usurped in an emergency to make sure that people are properly informed. Eliminating "unauthorized" sources was irrelevant because in that context there are no unauthorized sources.

In the case of (ahem!) "network management", yeah you're probably right. Keep a lid on what's going on so the people don't freak and panic. And you know what? I don't really have a problem with that, because in many disaster scenarios a panic will kill and maim more people than the event itself.

The problem, as I see it, is that simply having such network controls in place means they'll get used for non-emergency purposes (such as, "we don't want word of {insert political leader here} bribery scandal getting out.")

Right now, there's not much that government (or the private sector) can do to prevent dissemination of specific information via the Internet, short of shutting down major segments of it. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people that would like to build some automated censorship into the network. The question is whether or not the ability to control information flow in an emergency is worth the risk of that capability being used in other contexts. I don't think it is: if nothing else, the recent history has unequivocally demonstrated that the Federal Government cannot be trusted with our communications network.

Re:Wait (3, Funny)

RDW (41497) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086439)

'How, exactly, does a global pandemic affect a network?'

Basically, it comes down to all the 'viral' licenses that govern much of the software the internet runs on. To put it simply, the net behaves in much the same way as a series of tubes, which eventually become clogged up as the licenses proliferate. Luckily, Al Gore designed the Internet to survive even a nuclear war, so even a viral pandemic (interpreted by the net as censorship) can be routed around.

'Why would they need network management tools in case of such an event?'

This is of course the correct and universal response of ISPs to all eventualities. Too many people taking up that loss leader monthly deal? - Network Management. Customers actually using the bandwidth they've paid for? - Network Management. Rampant piracy detected by your friends at the RIAA? - Network Management. Catastrophic civilization-threatening hyperplague? - Network Management.

Re:Wait (1)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086585)

After the last ten days of financial and economic pandemic, and the slow-motion implosion of the US economy over the next couple of years, I don't think NMS will be that high on anyone's priority list. (And I write as someone about to start evaluating NMS at work. OpenNMS looks good so far :> )

Re:Wait (1)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086959)

If there is a global pandemic, and IT professionals are all home sick (or dead), normal network maintenance could be a problem.

Look at most countries the US bombed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25087159)

The work of the hydro crews in those countries is (heroic and) hindered by staff hiding, being dead and other such little things.
Dont forget, when they come for your country and you work for any infracstructure like power and telecommunications, you are a target. Same for TV and radio. Your deaths are expected and you are responsible for puttinng yourself in that situation, not the one doing the killing.

If you dont have even a skeleton staff to function under emergency situations, youre cooked.

Telecommuters (1)

Comboman (895500) | more than 5 years ago | (#25087399)

How, exactly, does a global pandemic affect a network? Why would they need network management tools in case of such an event?

The biggest effect would probably be the massive number of people who suddenly want to telecommute; either because they've been quarantined or because they want to stay at home and minimize the chances of coming into contact with someone who's sick.

Re:Telecommuters (1)

chappel (1069900) | more than 5 years ago | (#25092097)

I came to point out the same thing - pandemic = tital wave of telecommuting traffic. I'd mod the parent up, but all my points seem to have leaked away.

Re:Wait (1)

morcego (260031) | more than 5 years ago | (#25088173)

It is a very valid issue.

In case of a global pandemic, keeping the communication networks up and running (well) is very important, and a very tricky thing to do. The first thing that comes to mind is the necessity for some kind of high priority communication procedure. Also, lots of people will be trying to contact lots of other people (I hope, because if they are trying to contact themselves, the problem gets worst).

Add the fact a lot of maintenance people will be home sick (or in hospitals), and you have a recipe for a very nasty communications breakdown.

reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25088309)

Because of emergency quarantines, meaning no travel, you shelter in place at home, and because a bad pandemic means a lot of people will be *sick or dead*, including sysadmins and network admins and good tools will be needed to keep the net up because less people might be there to work everything. Along with every other jobs and service out there like water and power and so on. If you intend to tough it out at your shop, do they have adequate food and water for months? Forget days, this could be months and the experts have modeled it coming in waves, so it will last awhile..

Hint for the wise: You need at least three months of food at home to prepare for a bad pandemic (personally I think more than a year's worth of basic dry foods and some canned is better because we won't know how hard hit agriculture might be), maybe more. Not three days in the fridge and a box of crackers. Your deli and restaurants and snack vending machines won't be getting normal regular deliveries. Regular big cities won't be getting regular deliveries, put it that way. And you might not be able to leave your home anyway. Think level hurricane hitting measures, but all over at the same time, plus a lot more sick and dead and dying people. Not a few thousand dead, try some millions, all in a short time frame. The government already has plans for mass graves and the use of mobile creamatoria. this isn't hidden stuff, look it up, they are completely serious about it.

If you have a huge home theater system (or any expensive toy like that) but don't have food and water and medical gear put away, you are..well..it is called a victim, a pollyanna. If you are single, who cares, your look out and if you don't care no one else should either, but if you have a family, those people will rely on you, so you need to be proactive about things. You can't wait until after an emergency hits to prepare for it.

Re:reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25091717)

You also need a way to defend yourself. Think about all those neighbors who aren't prepared and want your food.

Re:Wait (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#25088579)

In a pandemic, most ppl will elect to be inside. Away from everybody. Not breathing on each other. The use of the net will JUMP leaps and bounds. And numerous ppl will want new connections, which will mean that their techs will be exposed to disease.

Re:Wait (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 5 years ago | (#25088695)

How, exactly, does a global pandemic affect a network?

Because lots of people like me would be ringing their bosses, and saying: "I'm not risking dying, I'll be VPNd in, working from home for the next 3-6 months" perhaps?

Of course, if I had some work to do where I had to go in, I'd go in, but I'd want to minimise my exposure to anything. 10 metres over a LAN cable versus 10 miles over a VPN connection? It's pretty much the same (just slower).

It's been 4 minutes since you last successfully posted a comment. Gad.

Re:Wait (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 5 years ago | (#25088759)

Let me paraphrase you question: "Why exactly does a network need people to run it?"

Global Pandemic? (1)

kickassweb (974862) | more than 5 years ago | (#25089765)

I've heard that this is a planned attack by Big Corporations and the WTO and US Government. :-) Weaponized Avian Flu [healthfreedomusa.org]

Re:Wait (1)

chrispugh (1301243) | more than 5 years ago | (#25091577)

Easy - Viruses.

so.. (1, Funny)

Briden (1003105) | more than 5 years ago | (#25085957)

if a disease breaks out, they might not be able to filter bittorrent any more?

i find my self in the strange position of rooting for the disease now.

That one is easy... (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 5 years ago | (#25085959)

Make sure you set up log rotation and make sure it works.

What planet are these people on? (2, Interesting)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#25085999)

"The most important tool at ISPs' disposal during a serious pandemic, panelists agreed, was that of network and bandwidth management controls"

WTF? During a pandemic I should think most employees of an ISP will have far more important things to worry about (you know, trivial stuff like their families etc) than whether the network bandwidth is ok. FFS.

Re:What planet are these people on? (2, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086069)

"WTF? During a pandemic I should think most employees of an ISP will have far more important things to worry about (you know, trivial stuff like their families etc) than whether the network bandwidth is ok. FFS."

Pandemics don't stop society from funtioning, they change how it functions because more people sicken and die.

Internet communication will be necessary (and even more useful, since personal contact should be avoided), and those who maintain ISPs will still need jobs. Working in a server room will be much safer than, say, checkout drone at Wal-Mart.

Re:What planet are these people on? (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086245)

During a pandemic, the most important thing is for people to stay home and avoid physical contact with other people, including extended family and friends.

What's they best way to maintain some semblance of a relationship with someone without physical contact? These days, it is the Internet.

Re:What planet are these people on? (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 5 years ago | (#25088745)

What's they best way to maintain some semblance of a relationship with someone without physical contact? These days, it is the Internet.

Alternatively, break out the Ham radio gear. Voice, morse, packet data - it's all good.

Re:What planet are these people on? (1)

weave (48069) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086339)

Part of my employer's response to an event like this is to have as many people work from home as possible -- and to do so requires the Internet be functioning and people shut-in by illness aren't clogging the net downloading porn.

Re:What planet are these people on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25086899)

but if Im not working, I want my pR0n, dammit

Re:What planet are these people on? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#25087439)

"The most important tool at ISPs' disposal during a serious pandemic, panelists agreed, was that of network and bandwidth management controls"
 
WTF? During a pandemic I should think most employees of an ISP will have far more important things to worry about (you know, trivial stuff like their families etc) than whether the network bandwidth is ok.

These people live on the planet Earth - where it is generally accepted that in the event of an emergency, certain categories of wokrers (fire, police, hospitals, power, (natural) gas, water, sewer, telco, and now ISP) will have to spend less time than they might like with their own families and more time serving the public good.

Re:What planet are these people on? (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#25092021)

An ISP is hardly a vital public utility. If you think it is then you need to get out more.

Re:What planet are these people on? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#25093405)

Maybe on your planet ever increasing numbers of people and virtually all businesses don't depend on ISP's for communication and business transactions. Here on the Planet Earth however, they do. Maybe one day your planet will mature, after all phones and power on Earth weren't originally considered vital public infrastructure.

Re:What planet are these people on? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25088229)

What planet are these people on?

They're on planet Earth, of course. Now, what drugs they're taking is another issue. I think I might like to try some.

same as any other business (4, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086039)

The biggest problem will be lack of staff. People won't want to meet up with too many others, for fear of catching whatever it is that's going around. While ISP staff can work from home, that's only a a small part of the problem. Suppliers will also have key people unavailable, so orders will take longer to process, technicians will not be able to provide the 24*7 cover you're used to (even if you're contracted for it) and help desks will be even less help, as their agents won't come in to work.

None of these points is unique to ISPs, and it's rather self-important of them to think that they will have any special requirements. In fact, what is more likely to affect them is the realisation, after the problems have cleared, that the business can run just as well with only half the staff doing their jobs - so the other half can be cut. Guess what? It'll be the ones who made it in to work who'll get retained.

Re:same as any other business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25086109)

Hey, guess what? You know that point about ISP staff being able to work from home? It's true. And a lot of people in other industries can work work from home as well.

You know what allows all those people to potentially work from home? Internet service!

And that's not even considering people refreshing news sites every 30 minutes, a probably major strain on the telephone system (including the VoIP bits of it), the need to keep effective communications up for police/fire/medical personnel, and the need to coordinate the national and global response to the threat. There will be a HUGE strain on our communications infrastructure.

It's not self-importance. It's legitimate importance.

So close, but no cigar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25086153)

You even mentioned the main driving force but fail to see the effect! All of those people NOT traveling and NOT meeting will be telecommuting instead. The demands on the networks will go up dramatically both for economic functions as well as the panicking chatter of the masses.

As much as I want net neutrality, this is a clear case where differentiated services is required. To gracefully shed excess load during a crisis while sustaining sufficient QoS for the essential functions. I would hope people find their movie-downloading impaired during the pandemic, rather than the basic ability to telecommute (reducing the disease transmission rate in the population) or to receive timely notification of public safety information.

Re:So close, but no cigar (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086599)

You even mentioned the main driving force but fail to see the effect! All of those people NOT traveling and NOT meeting will be telecommuting instead. The demands on the networks will go up dramatically both for economic functions as well as the panicking chatter of the masses.

Not so much. the main bandwidth hogs these days are P2P and other miscellaneous downloading. The personal use the people make from work will just be transferred to their houses, rather than to work IP addresses The usage from a remote desktop isn't so great - particularly since most people don't type too fast, so the upstream/refresh traffic is low.

What could really kill it is if everyone decides that voice is no longer enough and they all start videoconferencing from home. However, they'll have to make sure they're dressed for that to happen ;-0

Re:same as any other business (2, Funny)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25088907)

We solved that problem ages ago.

We locked our sysadmin in the server room with a lifetime supply of canned meat and diet cola. The area is hermetically sealed, so no virus can get in to threaten the health of our network operator.

After the initial round of tests and a new sysadmin, we added a commensurate supply of oxygen and removed all paperclips and duct tape from the room. We're confident that our uptime will be immune to a global pandemic.

- RG>

Re:same as any other business (1)

NoisySplatter (847631) | more than 5 years ago | (#25091731)

You might also want to throw an exercise bike powered generator in there in case the power goes out.

Re:same as any other business (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 5 years ago | (#25090351)

On the latter point? Not so fast... $company can (in most cases) run on half the staff because their orders will be effectively cut in half (or more) during the crisis, their production will drop sharply during this time, and the whole shebang will be slowed down anyway.

And yes, this will likely include networking/ISPs, because no sysadmin/netadmin is going to be stupid enough to cause downtime for expansions, performance tweaking, other installs, non-critical problems, etc. You simply run it until it dies and have standby equipment ready to swap out when it does. This is unlike normal operations, when admins will happily flop a core router cluster during a slow part of the day and kill one for upgrades, patching, etc etc etc.

Now once all the smoke clears and things kick back to normal, you have increased business again, which means you need more staff again. Again, this goes for ISPs and network providers, who will use that time to fix/upgrade/expand all the crap that they weren't able to during the crisis.

Historical parallel? Consider that after the Black Death passed in the 17th century, the cost of labor in Europe skyrocketed due to the lack of people to go around. I suspect that in an ugly-enough pandemic scenario, you're probably going to be short of staff once it passes anyway... can't lay off the dead, you know (well, you can, but it would look pretty silly when you do).

/P

Wrong Priorities (2, Insightful)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086051)

These guys don't have it figured out yet. The priorities are still: billing systems and still providing crappy customer service!

Is hiding at home really going to help? (0)

QuasiEvil (74356) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086059)

Okay, so say some incredibly nasty communicable virus shows up tomorrow. We all go home and hide from each other. When exactly do we get to come out again? It seems that the virus will likely never go away entirely, and as soon as we all come out again, it'll just rip through the population.

Might as well just keep doing what we do, take our losses, let the survivors immune systems adapt, and move on.

Re:Is hiding at home really going to help? (1)

flerchin (179012) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086123)

On a macro basis you are probably correct. However, on a micro basis things are less clear. To the nation, one dead taxpayer is just a lamentable as another. To you, it makes a big difference whether you die, or some other schmuck who didn't stay inside and wait out the pandemic dies. Each individual will try to maximize his own chances for survival.

Re:Is hiding at home really going to help? (2, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086325)

It all depends on the bug in question. Not a doctor, but at a guess...

If it was something like Ebola, where you require person-to-person contact, you just wait until the affected people die/get-quarantined/etc and the bug dies off in general.

If it's something that can survive outside the human body for a short period of time, then we isolate ourselves and wait it out.

If it's something that can jump species easily and/or survive for long periods of time away from a host? We're pretty much in the shit, unless/until a cure, vaccine, and some sort of germicide/'viruscide' can be concocted.

Personally, and I think I can speak for most human beings: I'm not going to take the chance of becoming one of the statistics, all in the name of carrying on, you know?

Is dying really going to help? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25087525)

"Personally, and I think I can speak for most human beings: I'm not going to take the chance of becoming one of the statistics, all in the name of carrying on, you know?"

Darwin's great...until you end up on his hit list.

Re:Is hiding at home really going to help? (1)

Ironchew (1069966) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086481)

Okay, so say some incredibly nasty communicable virus shows up tomorrow. We all go home and hide from each other. When exactly do we get to come out again?

Basement-dwelling Slashdotters are a big enough sample of conclusive evidence that they might as well throw padlocks on the doors and be done with it.

Re:Is hiding at home really going to help? (4, Insightful)

NIckGorton (974753) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086657)

Well first, you can outlast epidemics by hiding long enough. For you to get be likely to get infected you need a certain amount of the bug in circulation. If you wait till that strain has gone through you may dodge the bullet. (Think about people who are thirty who get a primary varicella (chicken pox) infection. They dodged that bullet for many years (often by chance) even though VZV is always out there.

Given the example of avian influenza, the time that you get infected also changes the likelihood that you will die. If there is a major first wave that kills large volumes, that would be the time to definitely want to avoid infection. First off, we have less chance of knowing the best treatments early on in an epidemic. Treatment of a new (or newly changed) illness is developed as we gain experience with it. For example, survival in the first wave of the AIDS epidemic was abysmal while now it is markedly better.

Secondly, when there are high volumes of patients in the initial wave, your chance of getting that ICU spot, omseltavir, or a ventillator should you need one are slim. If you get it later when the demand is less, you stand a better chance of having the resources necessary to give you the best chance of survival. In addition, until you get a cadre of health care providers who survived the infection, people will be less willing to get 'up close and personal' to provide you care.

So there is a definite advantage of not being in the middle of the big bulge of sick folks. Even if your infection is inevitable, you'd like to get it when we know more and have more resources mobilized. Plus if you wait long enough we might just get an effective vaccine.

How will we keep virtual pirates (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086099)

from taking advantage of the lack of law to loot store after store of intellectual property over bittorrent and other such pirate protocols?

This is clearly any responsible government's first concern! I'm outraged they are concerned with "bandwidth management"!

Misstated Headline (4, Insightful)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086149)

It should be "What ISPs and Telcos Said When Asked" etc. It's called "response bias", that someone will have an answer to pretty much anything if asked, because the asking implies they should have an answer to provide. I'm betting most respondents didn't actually have any such plans or concerns, and those that did had them placed firmly in the PR department rather than anyplace that might know about and have an effect on operations.

Re:Misstated Headline (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086379)

True - and as the chances of a given condition get more remote, the less likely it is that anyone has any sort of plan in place.

In tech terms, we can use backups as an analogy. The plans are pretty damned precise for contingencies like user goofs, a server blowing up, etc. But the D/R plans usually get a lot more vague when we start talking about floods, earthquakes, and fire... and these are still things that have a somewhat tangible probability.

When we finally get out to the level of civil unrest and pandemics, you may as well chuck in plans for asteroid impact and zombie apocalypse while you're at it, because the odds start getting low enough that it really isn't worth the time and resources to keep an active plan against.

/P

ISPs should ready their portals, too (1)

vandelais (164490) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086171)

to make sure that prominent links to information such as the CDC guidelines while jackhammering in references to the fact that antibiotics don't work on viruses.

They should also research prepare obituaries for people other than Steve Jobs.

It must be close to October, when the media... (2, Insightful)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086177)

will start hyping some super bug of the year. Will it be SARS II, Super Spanish Bird Flu, or will it be another year where I get a bad cold for 3 - 4 days, get over it and move on without a flu shot.

Come on, these pandemic scares happen every fall and it's boy crying wolf at this point. History indicates that eventually they will be right, but will that be this year or in 50 years...

That being said, I can understand disaster planning and having a plan just in case. But it's that time of the year when all the 24 hours news outlets will start harping what will be the next killer flu that does not materialize.

Re:It must be close to October, when the media... (4, Insightful)

NIckGorton (974753) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086821)

Come on, these pandemic scares happen every fall and it's boy crying wolf at this point.

Wow. I remember that same thing when I lived in New Orleans from 2002-2005. Every time there was a hurricane in the gulf people would be asked to evacuate and idiots like you would decide to stay, since its just the government crying wolf.

You could also make that same argument for using seatbelts. Or helmets. You could point out that 99.9% of the time its totally useless. As an ER doctor, I hear that argument all of the time.

Generally from people on whom I am reducing a fracture or sewing a laceration or prepping for the OR so they can be rid of their pesky little spleen.

The whole point for disaster preparedness and injury prevention is to have something you don't need 99.9% of the time so you can save lives when the time comes that you do need it. You may think its crazy or paranoid, but having been the ER chief resident in Brooklyn's largest trauma center on September 11, 2001 and having narrowly missed Katrina call me an overcautious kinda guy... But I've seen the results of shitty planning and blase attitudes like yours before.

So stop whining, get your flu shot, wear your seatbelt and helmet, and make sure you have a personal plan for when the shit hits the fan. You don't have to encase your house in plastic sheeting and duct tape, wear a tin foil hat, and have a mound of guns in your fallout shelter basement. But having a plan and a small emergency kit is a good idea for anyone.

Re:It must be close to October, when the media... (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25087875)

This guy is some kind of real-world Forest Gump, standing on the sidelines of history...

Seriously, though. That's absolutely uncanny. Where are you now? Should I be avoiding that place?

Re:It must be close to October, when the media... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25089689)

That being said, I can understand disaster planning and having a plan just in case.

Woosh

Re:It must be close to October, when the media... (1)

Steve Baker (3504) | more than 5 years ago | (#25092931)

Wow. I remember that same thing when I lived in New Orleans from 2002-2005. Every time there was a hurricane in the gulf people would be asked to evacuate and idiots like you would decide to stay, since its just the government crying wolf.

Wasn't that the moral of the story of the boy who cried wolf? You cry wolf enough and people stop listening and there is no one to save you when it really happens. If there is a history of overstating the danger, then is it really that idiotic to ignore the warnings? Maybe some of the blame can be levied at the government?

From what I understand, New Orleans actually faired the storm rather well. It was the failure of the levies that caused all the damage, levies that the government knew well ahead of time needed to be repaired or replaced.

Flu shots haven't been shown to be effective, bicycle helmets seem to increase injuries. You can't plan for random events, you can't even imagine how it's going to go down. Work in a tall building? What's the plan? Have a parachute at work and practice your base-jumping I guess.

Re:It must be close to October, when the media... (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 5 years ago | (#25087059)

Come on, these pandemic scares happen every fall and it's boy crying wolf at this point. History indicates that eventually they will be right

History indicates that pandemics are as common as floods and earthquakes, and every few generations they kill 50 million people. http://www.google.com/search?en&q=1918+influenza+epidemic [google.com]

Re:It must be close to October, when the media... (1)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 5 years ago | (#25089957)

History? You want history? Here's epidemiological history [typepad.com] for ya.

Assumption of a working Internet during a crisis? (3, Interesting)

compumike (454538) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086237)

So, while we know that the Internet is designed to provide routing protocols that can handle damaged nodes and take them out of the loop, are we still building systems in place that depend on the Internet being able to move packets from A to B, in the midst of any sort of prolonged crisis?

Currently, real "main street" business already suffer when their net goes down even for half an hour, but that's usually when the last link between them and the ISP goes down.

But in a serious or prolonged emergency situation, I'd be more concerned about links in the middle going down.

So are people building safety systems (healthcare records, utility company systems, etc) that depend on the Internet working in order to do business? Just think of what happens when the phones go down and companies can't process credit cards... but much worse. How are these ISPs and Telcos even supposed to allow their network admins to work from home... if the net is down?

--
Educational microcontroller kits for the digital generation! Free videos. [nerdkits.com]

Re:Assumption of a working Internet during a crisi (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086287)

How are these ISPs and Telcos even supposed to allow their network admins to work from home... if the net is down?

I suppose if they are knowledgeable enough they can SSH or telnet into work with direct dialup access.

That depends on if they still have modems laying around on both ends and that the phone system still works.

Re:Assumption of a working Internet during a crisi (4, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086777)

The reality of the situation is much worse than that. Companies have been building their infrastructure around things like Just In Time Inventory and the like for a while. What this means is that your neighborhood shop has just enough stuff for maybe a week and then they run out.

When UPS went on strike you would have thought these folks would have learned their lesson that infrastructure is fragile and you better be ready to roll with it. Sadly, they did not. The result is any prolonged emergency that affects electricity or fuel supplies will doom many businesses, especially the smaller ones.

Also, the interdependence of our current infrastructure is incredible. We seem to have built a society on the idea that nothing bad ever happens. So that when it does everything goes at once.

All it takes is a little damage and it cripples the electric grid. Which then disables the fuel pumps for filling up the trucks needed to service the electric problems. Which then locks down all transportation in the area and makes everyone dependent on outside assistance. What? The state or federal assistance isn't coming because they are too busy elsewhere? Impossible. People will sit down and wait for help because they "know" it is coming. Real Soon Now we will all be saved. By someone. After all, someone has to help. They just have to.

Internet? I'd be a lot more worried about being trapped in a city with no food deliveries and no stockpile of food items anywhere within 300 miles.

Great, but... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25086293)

I think it's a great idea to protect such a critical resource during a time of crisis. It seems like the importance of networks are often undervalued in emergencies.

However, *dons a tinfoil hat* does anyone else see a potential for other uses of such crisis plans? Who gets to determine what a crisis is, and how an ISP is supposed to respond? While I am going to try to be optimistic and assume everyone behind this has good intentions, the implications for its misuse are scary.

Say that a bunch of people get pissed off at their government and revolt, peacefully protest, or whatever. Now instead of just calling out the riot police, the powers that be can simply flick off the switch for one of the most important tools for free speech and communication. Only "critical sources of information" such as Big Media news sites are available because "terrorists" are using the Internet to communicate.

I don't really think this will happen any time soon, but it's certainly something to think about.

Here we go again. (1)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086329)

Thats the second time I hear about big pandemic plans for this fall. The first one was the plan on creating one. Some people think, that this will be another cover up story, like 9/11 for explaining why the world economy collapses. Hmm.. Hope I'm just paranoid here.

Dear CNN.com (1)

CranberryKing (776846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086343)

Give me some (any) incentive, and I'll be happy to seed your content. I can't believe it's 2008 and no one has come up with some type of web services sitting on top of bittorrent. The Internet is designed to keep on chuggin' even if you tear it's arms & legs off. Yet these Masters of Information companies still use a centralized approach with their content. Bittorrent is The Perfect Application with respect to the purpose of the Internet & in dealing with a major disaster. I see it as those companies responsibility to anticipate and deal effectively with guaranteeing the availability of critical information to the public in a serious crisis.

Re:Dear CNN.com (2, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086727)

Wow, that is a good one. Let's see here, you have most all of the US on seriously asymmetrical links and you want to share your bandwidth with large commercial providers. Ha ha ha.

DSL is slowing becoming more symmetrical, but is has a long way to go in most markets. So you have 5Mb download and 500Kb upload or worse. Cable works by allocating slots and often you have the situation where out of 100 potential slots you have 90 of them for download and 10 for upload. And yes, you are fighting with all of your neighbors for those upload slots.

Fiber potentially can be symmetrical, but average use makes nonsense out of spending the resources to do so. When 80% of the people want 10x the download speed vs. upload speed the provider tends to give it to them. So YouTube is really fast but uploading 500MB for a web site is pretty slow.

The reason we're not all being asked to share our bandwidth is we don't have much upload bandwidth to share. And until the usage habits of most users change drastically, we're not likely to get much more.

"Such as Influenza" (3, Funny)

Shade of Pyrrhus (992978) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086351)

"Such as influenza" my ass! They're preparing for an outbreak of zombies! It's a global marketing test, in addition to a way of dealing with people who use too much bandwidth!

Bullplop! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25086487)

All this jibba-jabba about network management... all they need is a corps of telephone sanitizers!

Am I the only one? (1)

ihtarlik (1368251) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086543)

Is it just me, or is this convenient timing? If controlling bandwidth during a pandemic or similar crisis was their true concern, this topic would have be on the table 6 months after 9/11. The next question to ask is how does one make sure companies like Comcast don't apply these measures when there is no crisis?

Oh, I see... (1, Insightful)

pixelcort (413708) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086565)

Oh, I see.

So this is their excuse to filter BitTorrent and related high-bandwidth protocols.

Interesting strategy. It reminds me of censorship in the name of protecting children.

Hopeless, I'd say (3, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#25086875)

One of the biggest problems with any drawn-out emergency is going to be information control. The government is going to want to tell people to do certain things and, if they are done, it will be better for everyone.

For example, staying off the phone. Not rushing out to the WalMart SuperCenter to get the last couple of loaves of bread. Stuff like that.

Unfortunately, a lot of these people are going to be looking at any "official" pronouncements as just so much self-serving BS. When some web site blog/chat forum/etc. says the government is out to kill as many people as possible so the Senators can each have 10,000 acre estates some will believe. When the same web forums say that if you don't want to starve you better join in the mob breaking into the WalMart SuperCenter, people will do so - even if the store was emptied two days before. Of course, all of the people in the mob will then catch whatever it is that is going around at the time - or just get injured further stressing the health care providers.

What are the chances of this not happening and everyone sitting at home listening to the government and doing what is best for everyone? Today, I'd say zero. I'd say that it would be better if the government said nothing at all - because lots of influential people will want to get on their soap box to dispute anything "the government" says, no matter how much sense it might make.

Avian flu coming to the US? Probably is, soon. When it hits, it is going to be a disaster and most people will follow whatever sort of "leader" they can latch onto. And the Internet is full of folks that will jump into that role. For better or worse. I'm expecting worse, myself.

Re:Hopeless, I'd say (3, Insightful)

WamBam (1275048) | more than 5 years ago | (#25087581)

I agree with you but I think that keeping lines of communication open is not good just for conveying information to the public, but keeping information flowing between important people during such a crisis. The ability for law enforcement, researchers and medical professionals to collect data at a local level and then being able to share that across the country or across the globe is going to be vital. I think that pandemics might be a disaster that's a bit different from an earthquake or tsunami. It's really a disaster that is all about information: where are the outbreaks? what are the strains of disease involved? what treatments are effective? Keeping these lines of communication open is so vitally important that the government should make sure that ISP's manage their information effectively.

Janeway said something about this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25087091)

Here we see effect preceding cause, you have to get your head around that when dealing with quantum mechanics.

Plenty of spare bandwidth if.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25087167)

In a global emergency, just outlaw spam and you'll free up lots o' bandwidth.

Thanks to the constant background noise of spam, there's probably plenty of bandwidth that could be tapped in times of need.

Closer to home (0, Offtopic)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 5 years ago | (#25087497)

Hey, how about we deal with the on-going pandemic of zombie/virus infected computers and spammers first. Killing THAT traffic would be a network upgrade in of itself.

hmm, noone talking about network control (1)

fdisk3hs (513270) | more than 5 years ago | (#25089085)

So, uh, no one here is talking about network monitoring or control, which is the whole issue of this story...
I am an engineer at an ISP, and I can tell you that we are not doing anything like this. I haven't even heard of this issue. We are just trying to keep our clients' dns servers running (they keep patching them and breaking them), and upgrading our fiber capacity (OC12 to gige, OC48 to 10gige).
Having said that, we use ssh and a web browser (Nagios) to control and monitor, so not sure what you would do to make that "pandemic proof". Of course, if the Nagios box can't talk to stuff, it can't monitor it, which is a weakness.

It might be more useful (1)

baggins2001 (697667) | more than 5 years ago | (#25090511)

It might be more useful if someone had connected hospital information together so that a pandemic is caught at it's earliest stages.

A couple of years ago my wife got severely ill nausea and vomiting. I took her in and they treated her and she was fine 24 hours later. But later I learned another hospital had seen 12 cases in the previous 24 hrs. My wife was the second at this particular hospital and one of 4 before we left the ER. But after talking to a friend of a friend who was a doctor I found out that about what was going on and he was unaware that they were seeing it at other hospitals. This was the first time I became concerned that hospitals were not communicating with each other and that if a more serious virus had broken out it would take them days instead of hours to figure out the extent of the problem.

And this wasn't just a run of the mill stomach virus, within about 2 hours she went from fine to totally incompasitated.

It makes me wonder how many of these cases of food poisoning could have been stopped, if hospitals were more communicative of cases they were seeing.

So I'm not really worried about bandwidth issues. By the time it becomes a bandwidth issue it's to late. The problem will kind of solve itself.

FASCIST PROPAGANDA! (1)

myspace-cn (1094627) | more than 5 years ago | (#25091487)

I kept an open mind and read the article, then I get to the last paragraph on page one.

"In particular, Mayer said people would have to be told not to stream videos or use peer-to-peer technology that could clog the local network and prevent basic communications such as e-mail from getting through. While Mayer acknowledged that the network neutrality debate has made some carriers âoenervousâ about giving priority to certain traffic, he said in a true national disaster, the FCC would no doubt give carriers leeway to shape traffic to give vital Web communications the highest priority."

Boom, they want to kill p2p, and video. So basically your not going to be able to watch CNN on your TVUPlayer. Or Democracy now, or really any news.

No news, is divide and conquer folks.

These bastards should be making infrastructure for unlimited bandwidth and data!

These are our fucking communications.

Meanwhile ham radio has been tossed under the bus.

Journalists don't get to cover disasters.

We got to get these fuckers out of office, they are fucking everything up.

America needs to upgrade all of it's communications infrastructure, especially with energy being so costly, especially with all this government bank robbing, and war machine.

Oh fuck it. Tired of ranting and nobody fucking listening.

THE US IS GOING TO FUCKING HELL!

secondary consequences (1)

morethanapapercert (749527) | more than 5 years ago | (#25094293)

I'll first lightly touch on just what an epidemic or a pandemic actually *is*. AFAIK, there is no hard and fast rule about what constitutes an epidemic or a pandemic. The rough guideline seems to be 1) that it be a communicable disease (so no cancer) 2)that it be actually or even just potentially fatal (rules out the common cold) and 3) Must infect more people, or infect them faster than expected. (with "expected" being highly variable depending on the disease in question.)

Does this mean 1 in 100 dying? 1 in 10? In common use, it's my understanding that people mean things like the Black Plague, Spanish Influenza and Smallpox. Diseases so nasty that everyone knew at least one person who had already died from it and were themselves at risk of dying from it at anytime. Diseases that killed at least 10% and sometimes more than 50% of the vulnerable populations.

TFA talks about monitoring tools to keep up with the load, being able to juggle bandwidth, edit hosted content to cope with increased bandwidth demands, remote administration and the like. That has an important spin-off consequence that I don't see being addressed. These tools would allow the survivors to handle the work load of those who were home sick or simply dead. Being able to do that for an emergency period of a few weeks is one thing, but if the tools are sufficiently capable to handle it for months, why would the company ever hire replacements for those who died? The survivors will have proved that they could handle the work load, even under higher than expected demand. Furthermore, being able to do this remotely only makes off-shoring even easier. (In fact, I'd argue that a _good_ *demic plan would HAVE to include an off-shore team as part of your fall-back plans. Doing so would essentially allow the company to re-route it's human workload around the epicentre(s) of infection much as it can already re-route traffic)

There is one aspect of this that I *don't* see being talked about, one that the military has built into it's very structure and that is inheritance of authority. I work for an I.T. services company, one that has a comparatively small staff. If I died, my supervisor or the president/owner of the company would have little trouble recovering data or assuming control over my sphere of responsibility. However, the reverse is not true. If my boss's boss dies, at present we have no easy way to assume control. If only my boss dies, the president can delegate the deceased's duties onto me, but short of a password list kept in the tape safe, we have no way of taking over the presidents job. Given the level of access the owner/president has to the systems of our clientele, security procedures prohibit the tape safe option. (since I could access that list at anytime without leaving a trail.) I suppose we could contact each of our clients directly and get each of them to create new accesses for my supervisor or myself, but we can't guarantee that the person who has the ability to do that would be alive to do so. Worse yet, with a few of our clients, creating a new administrator level access would be something _we_ would normally be doing for them. They have people with the authority/permission levels to do so, but not the technical know-how.

The (sort of) good news is that, if 30%-50% of the people around here are sick or dead a lot of our customers probably wouldn't exist anymore anyway.

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