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Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism
IT and C3I for Emergency Response
Technologies for command, control, communications, and information (C3I) have major importance in the response phase of a disaster.
In general, the IT infrastructure must be robust in the face of damage.33 Although incident management has been well studied,34 the IT requirements for such management do not appear to have been thoroughly conceived—even though in a disaster it is essential that IT systems provide for the capability to deliver information, interagency communication and coordination, and communication with those affected both within and beyond the immediate disaster area. Equipment must be deployed immediately to provide for appropriate communication to those responding to the situation, among the multiple agencies in the private and public sectors that are affected, and to and between those directly affected by the incident.35
There are many options for helping to facilitate interoperable crisis communications among emergency-response agencies. For example, it is likely that some portion of the public networks will survive any disaster; emergency-response agencies could use it to facilitate interoperability if there are mechanisms for giving them first priority for such use. A second option is to allocate dedicated spectral bands for emergency responders and to require by law that they use those frequencies. A third option is to mandate frequency and waveform standards for emergency responders so that they are interoperable. A fourth option is to develop technology to facilitate interoperable communications among emergency responders. Of course, these options are not mutually exclusive.
In addition, numerous computational and database facilities must be established to provide complete and real-time information36 to diverse constituencies whose information and communication requirements, security needs, and authorizations all differ. These facilities must be established quickly, as minutes and even seconds matter in the urgent, early stages of an incident.37 Furthermore, tight security is essential, especially if the incident is the result of a terrorist attack, because an active adversary might try to subvert the communications or destroy data integrity.38 In addition, an atmosphere of crisis and emergency provides opportunities for hostile elements to overcome security measures that are normally operative under nonemergency circumstances; thus, another research area is how to build systems that permit security exceptions to be declared without introducing new vulnerabilities on a large scale.