Magazine article Information Today

The Indestructible, Indispensable Internet

Magazine article Information Today

The Indestructible, Indispensable Internet

Article excerpt

The Internet, a technological child of the Cold War era, was originally designed as a Department of Defense communication network that could withstand a nuclear attack. Specifically, if a portion of the network was decimated by The Bomb, data packets could be rerouted, so communication would not be totally disrupted. This explains why an ailing computer or router in Atlanta, for instance, does not bring the entire Net to its knees--although data "traffic" to that part of the world may be somewhat slower.

This efficient design and function are aspects that make the Internet so valuable in today's global economy. As information professionals, most of us have eagerly embraced the Internet as a multifaceted tool, using it for information retrieval, networking, and communications. Scientists and researchers, of course, were using the Net long before most of us realized that it even existed. These days, a staggering range of folks are using the Net to ply their trade or practice their profession.

Somebody's Been Thinking About Your Safety and Survival

The reliability of the Internet's distributed structure makes it ideal for disaster planning and emergency management. The Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder has done a great deal of work in this area, and you can see the results on its home page, at /Home.html. Among the things you'll find here is the full text of all session summaries from the Hazards Research and Applications Workshop held in Boulder last summer. Many of the sites listed below were mentioned in the Hazards Center's bimonthly publication, Natural Hazards Observer. Subscriptions are free to subscribers within the U.S.--as are subscriptions to the online publication, Disaster Research. Send e-mail to hazc tr(at) for information.

As you might expect, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) home page, at http://www., is one of the best clearinghouses for emergency management information on the Internet. One of FEMA's most popular publications, The Emergency Guide for Business and Industry, can be found at

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has a Web site ( that provides a wide range of information on civil conflict, disasters, disaster victims, and the ICRC's role in dealing with these problems. You'll find press releases, fact sheets, in-depth articles, illustrated brochures, position papers, texts of various treaties and other publications, as well as links to other Red Cross/Red Crescent organization Web sites.

The Natural Disaster Reference Database home page (http://ltpwww., constructed by the Earth Sciences Directorate of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, contains bibliographic information on research results and programs related to the use of satellite remote sensing for disaster mitigation.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's National Drought Mitigation Center offers an electronic clearinghouse of the latest scientific and technical information on drought at

A free, 70-page publication entitled Emergency Preparedness Guidelines for Mass, Crowd-Intensive Events, is available from Emergency Preparedness Canada (EPC). Request this via e-mail to cominfo(at)jackson.epc.epc-pcc. Check out other publications available from EPC at http://hoshi.

The National Institute for Urban Search and Rescue home page ( provides copies of its newsletter, a compendium of seismic information sites on the Net, and earthquake preparedness information for child safety.

The Los Angeles bureau of The Economist magazine has set up a site that includes text and images from an article entitled "Fear of Trembling," which appeared in the April 22, 1995 issue. …

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