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News and comments on community broadband networks, the communities deploying them and the technologies that support them. Published by Denise Frey and Al Bonnyman.

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Monday, August 18, 2003


Blackout 2003: What's this say about our critical power infrastructure?

"Aging grid ripe for more troubles: Costly efforts to improve system run into red tape, community opposition"
"Even as Americans pursue a 21st-century lifestyle in homes filled with centrally cooled air, high-speed computers, and bigger and better washers and dryers, the electric power grid they rely on to keep these conveniences humming is crumbling."

"We're All on the Grid Together"
"Once power is fully restored, it will take little time to find the culprit: most likely, it will be a malfunctioning switch or fuse, a snapped power line or some other local failure. Somebody will be fired, promotions and raises denied, and lawmakers will draw up legislation guaranteeing that this problem will not occur again."

"Something will be inevitably missed, however, during all this finger-pointing: this week's blackout has little to do with faulty equipment, negligence or bad design. President Bush's call to upgrade the power grid will do little to eliminate power failures. The magnitude of the blackout is rooted in an often ignored aspect of our globalized world: vulnerability due to interconnectivity."

Power Grid More Vulnerable Daily: Inherent Weaknesses of a Reliable Structure Are Now Exposed
"The Great Blackout of '03 will go down in history as one more wake-up call for a nation grown weary of them, a vivid demonstration that the most critical technology of modern life -- the electricity that powers virtually every aspect of it -- is vulnerable to severe disruption, and growing more so by the day."

... and finally, a look at Homeland Security implications:
"Blackout exposes faults in nation's power grid"
Terrorism sprang to mind when the lights suddenly went out for millions of Americans and Canadians. But fears of al-Qaida strikes on the vulnerable power grid were unrealized, federal officials quickly determined."

"Had it been an actual attack, it is unlikely the terrorists would have met their goals. There was little evidence of panic, violence or threats to public health and civil order."

"Call it a weapon of mass disruption. Air conditioning went out. People were trapped in subways and elevators. Planes were grounded and traffic lights went dark. Cell phones didn't recharge. New York, Cleveland, Toronto and Detroit lost most of their power Thursday afternoon."

"Thanks to backup power supplies — probably last upgraded before Y2K — the vital institutions kept the lights on. Hospitals stayed open and jail doors stayed closed."


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