Engineers at Cisco Systems Inc. and IBM Corporation submitted a draft proposal to the Internet Engineering Task Force on September 11 for a system that would alert people to impending catastrophic events such as the December 26, 2004 tsunami that ravaged southern Asia.
Fred Baker, a fellow at Cisco systems, and Brian Carpenter, a senior engineer at IBM, proposed an Internet-based system, which would not require any new communication protocols. As an example of how the system might work, a NOAA ocean buoy might detect a series of large incoming waves. NOAA could send out a machine-readable alert to communications companies and emergency managers using an existing security protocol, such as Secure Multipurpose Internet Mail Exchange (S/MIME), which would mitigate the chance that an alert had been spoofed. Cellular phone carriers might then alert their users by sending an alert message to the phones of all of their users in the affected area. So someone at a beach threatened by incoming waves might be alerted by his phone beeping. That person then might alert others nearby who didn't have cell phones with them.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is also considering ways to enhance communications in the event of such catastrophes as the recent tsunami. The DOD's Chief Information Officer (CIO) is considering the purchase of a system that will allow the DOD to quickly implement a communications system in an affected area which would facilitate coordination with officials in allied countries and non-governmental orgganizations (NGOs) participating in humanitarian relief efforts.
Cisco, IBM propose Internet-based disaster alert system
By Joab Jackson
Government Computer News
Published February 11, 2005
Structure of an International Emergency Alert System
Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Submitted on January 10, 2005
Defense seeks humanitarian communication
By Frank Tiboni
Federal Computer Week
Published on Feb. 11, 2005