Two months after calling for the creation of an organization of mobilized technology experts (see “Call Up the Net Guard,” www.cio.com/printlinks), Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and George Allen (R-Va.) have taken the next step. In March, the two introduced the Science and Technology Emergency Mobilization Act, which would create a body of science and technology workers who could respond to catastrophes affecting communications and technology.
The bill would establish a structured network of expertise to prevent breakdowns in connectivity and communications similar to what occurred on Sept. 11, says Carol Guthrie, Wyden’s press secretary. According to Wyden, the bill would amass teams of volunteers with science and technology expertise, create a database of private sector equipment and knowledge that emergency officials can call on if needed, and set up a national clearinghouse and test bed for innovative emergency prevention and response. The latter would be overseen by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and would act as “a portal for the private sector to bring their ideas, their people, their expertise and their equipment to bear on the war against terrorism,” Guthrie says. If a natural disaster or a terrorist incident were to occur, the NIST center would be the point of contact when companies or IT workers wanted to help and donate services, she says.
As of press time, the bill had been referred to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.