Team 4 : Jeffrey & Katharine

IT Issue: Society's Reliance and the Fragility of New Communication Technologies

Quake Area Residents Turn to Old Means of Communication to Keep Informed


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time for each slide set to 15 seconds




15 in 15 IT Issue

TASK: In 15 slides, each slide viewable for 15 seconds, prepare the following -
  • Present an IT issue and the stakeholders (2 slides) - Jeffrey
  • Tell us about the technology background (3 slides) - Katharine
  • Examine the impact - positively and negatively, of the issue (4 slides) - Jeffrey
  • Share a solution to the issue (4 slides) - Katharine
  • 2 extra slides to put where you want

Part 1:
Areas of Impact: People and Machines, Communication, security,

The recent Japanese earthquake disaster caused immediate failure of cellular and Internet communications in most stricken areas; as a result, the people affected by the earthquake were forced to turn to old means of communication to keep informed of essential information. Natural disasters such as the aforementioned quake have precipitated global realization of the vulnerability and fragility of new communication technologies such as the Internet and cellular communications.

When the earthquake struck, northern Japan, including Tokyo, lost most cellphone services; 1.3 million fiber-optic landlines were also dead within moments of the quake. With modern communication networks that are heavily reliant on hardware infrastructure rendered ineffective, Japanese citizens turned to radio, newspapers and even human messengers.
Orui (age 17): "I felt so isolated, you don't realize how much you rely on something until you lose it."

Part 3:
Pros:
Modern communication networks:
  • Enables easy global communication instantaneously through a number of different channels
  • Low cost or free easy access to modern communication networks for circulation of information
  • Provides the opportunity for multi-sourced and peer to peer information transfer between the public
  • Can be easily expanding geographically and virtually, i.e. cellphones in rural areas; Constant Internet expansion
  • Allows fast, easy and accessible transfer of multimedia information
  • Both synchronous and asynchronous communication are both available
  • Allow immediate feedback or response
  • Have become essential parts of social communication, business, infrastructure, information technology, politics etc.
  • Have become the favored mode of communication among the public

Cons:
Modern communication networks:
  • Are highly dependent on hardware infrastructure such as signal tower, servers etc.
  • Require a high amount of resources to enable access both initially and subsequently
  • Modern hardware facilities and basic social infrastructure are far too dependent on modern communication networks
  • Can be easily disrupted by natural disasters, hardware failures, terrorist attacks, hacker invasions etc. (as depicted in "Die Hard 4)
  • The public is extremely reliant on modern communication networks, and any disruption could cause loss of money, important information and even social chaos.
  • Not the safest place to disclose or store important or personal information

Part 2

*Note: I believe the idea is to explain the how cellular networks and the Internet operates. So you might want to mention:
  • Cellular Networks transmit data from one client to the other through a series of satellite, cellular towers and seldom landlines.
  • For a cellular network to function, there are several hardware requirements. 1. Two or more client ends, which includes the availability of coverage, battery and fees. 2. Availability of hardware infrastructure, i.e. towers and satellites. 3. Availability of service providers or equivalent coordinating party.
  • Internet runs through several channels including large servers all around the world, peer to peer between computers also known as the cloud, and private servers around the globe.
  • Internet access requires: 1. A terminal equipped with wireless or leased access to a modem and/or router 2. Electricity, hardware and means of access to a terminal 3. Available Internet Service Providers and corresponding wall sockets or remote access.

*Cause of the IT issue: fall of electrical power lines and fall of Fukushima nuclear power plant - in the beginning: no internet and cellphone service
300 outdoor loudspeakers and sirens, used as local disaster warning.
Radio: Miyako Disaster FM (run by group of citizens), began broadcasting on Tuesday (also broadcasts supermarkets and products on sale) -microphones and transmitter with range of up to nine miles
“In a disaster, radio has been the best way to get real-time information,” “All you need is a hand-held receiver and batteries, or a car radio.” - Founder: Hisao Hashimoto (56, magazine editor)
“These are the moments when you realize how much the community is depending on us,” - Ayako Kimura (age 34, well-liked radio personality)
Pros: large number of elderly in Japan’s rapidly aging rural communities in the north who shy away from the internet
“My generation doesn’t use the Internet,” – Emiko Okubo (aged 57, restaurant worker whose home was washed away)
Sokei Elementary School (one of 61 makeshift shelters housing Miyako’s 4,900 survivors of the tsunami, many of the 130 people are middle-aged or older)
Newspapers:
shop near Tokyo station specializing in products from Fukushima prefecture, 500 people a day come to read newspapers, since they contain lists of survivors in Fukushima's refugee shelter
Sokei Community Daily - One page newsletter that tells about events at the refugee shelter and surrounding neighborhood.
“Paper can be read right away and passed around,” “No turning on a monitor, no online connections, no keyboards.” – Maekawa (aged 34, former magazine writer)

Part 4
The public is extremely reliant on modern communication networks, and any disruption could cause loss of money, important information and even social chaos.
Solutions:
  • Guards (where?): in front of the radio stations, newspaper stands, ?
  • Emergency backup records: floppy diskettes, hard disks, cassettes, CD-ROMs, tapes, spreadsheets
  • Bulletin board systems: A computer and software providing a message database. Users log in and leave and read messages. Messages are often divided into topics. Some BBS provide archives of files or other services, e.g., e-mail. / chat rooms regarding disaster information
  • Evaluate and improve the physical and virtual reliability, security and hardware integrity of the required infrastructure
  • Develop emergency backup services in the case of natural disaster or attack
  • Conserve the more reliable old communication methods i.e. radio, newspaper etc.

Strengths
  • Guards: protection against physical threats
  • Emergency backup records(audio, written, etc.): loss of original records, still have others
  • Bulletin board systems / chat rooms: place to talk about common concerns, regarding after disaster (searching for missing people, refugee shelters, etc.)
  • Improve Infrastructure: effective and direct action to prevent aforementioned events from happening
  • Backup plan: foolproof plan B in case other alternatives fail
  • Old technology conservation: easily done as such technologies are still in service globally and provide a viable solution to disrupted communications during disasters

Weaknesses:
  • Guards: cannot protect against online threats-stealing personal information from online-social networks(twitter, facebook, etc.)
  • Emergency backup records: could be stolen
  • Bulletin board systems/chat rooms: not as many older generation people use internet/not available to as many people, compared to radio
  • Improve Infrastructure: requires large amount of money and time investment to complete
  • Backup plan: requires development of communication technology alternatives assuming no available hardware infrastructure
  • Old technology conservation: Not as fast or efficient in disaster scenarios

Areas for future development:
  • Guards: online threats:firewalls/barriers
  • Bulletin board systems / chat rooms: "made public only to" preferences (facebook, ning, twitter), password


Jeffrey ABCD:
A:
IT Concepts: People and Machines, Communication, security,
Areas of Impact: Communications,

The recent Japanese earthquake disaster caused immediate failure of cellular and Internet communications in most stricken areas; as a result, the people affected by the earthquake were forced to turn to old means of communication to keep informed of essential information. Natural disasters such as the aforementioned quake have precipitated global realization of the vulnerability and fragility of new communication technologies such as the Internet and cellular communications.

When the earthquake struck, northern Japan, including Tokyo, lost most cellphone services; 1.3 million fiber-optic landlines were also dead within moments of the quake. With modern communication networks that are heavily reliant on hardware infrastructure rendered ineffective, Japanese citizens turned to radio, newspapers and even human messengers.
Orui (age 17): "I felt so isolated, you don't realize how much you rely on something until you lose it."

B:
Modern Communication Networks such as cellular networks and the Internet mainly function through a series of hardware infrastructure connections. This renders them susceptible to failure as even failure of one node in the network may lead to widespread failure.

Cellular Networks transmit data from one client to the other through a series of satellite, cellular towers and seldom landlines. For a cellular network to function, there are several hardware requirements. 1. Two or more client ends, which includes the availability of coverage, battery and fees. 2. Availability of hardware infrastructure, i.e. towers and satellites. 3. Availability of service providers or equivalent coordinating party. The signal from the calling or messaging end is transmitted to the nearest communication tower, and is then sent by the tower usually to a communication satellite or redirected to a landline. From there, the signal traverses from satellite to satellite, then to a communications tower near the receiving client and finally to the receiver's mobile phone. Transmissions through landlines are redirected by the communication tower through underground communications lines to the receiving end.

Internet runs through several channels including large servers all around the world, peer to peer between computers also known as the cloud, and private servers around the globe. Internet access requires: 1. A terminal equipped with wireless or leased access to a modem and/or router 2. Electricity, hardware and means of access to a terminal 3. Available Internet Service Providers and corresponding wall sockets or remote access. The internet follows similar transmission patterns as cellular networks. Servers, client ends and ISPs form a gigantic network of connections across the globe. Information is transferred from the client's computer through the internet service provider to the country's port and connected to the internet. As such, internet service provider faults, or failures in the millions of servers world wide may lead to internet failure as experienced during the Japanese Earthquake.

C:
Positives:
Modern communication networks:
  • Enables easy global communication instantaneously through a number of different channels, such as cellular networks and the Internet, providing versatile, fast, and rich access to information.
  • Low cost or free easy access to modern communication networks for circulation of information. For example, websites and text messages used for communication and distribution of information.
  • Provides the opportunity for multi-sourced and peer to peer information transfer between the public, which is a leap from the traditional broadcasting form of information distribution, e.g newspaper.
  • Can be easily expanding geographically and virtually, i.e. cellular towers in rural areas; Constant Internet expansion.
  • Allows fast, easy and accessible transfer of multimedia information such as video, audio, text, images. These were not available from one source in old communication technologies.
  • Both synchronous and asynchronous communication are both available. Synchronous communication such as cellphone calls, and asynchronous such as email
  • Have become essential parts of social communication, business, infrastructure, information technology, politics etc. Cellphones, and more importantly, the Internet, have integrated themselves into our everyday life and business, making them essential to a functioning, rich society.
  • Have become the favored mode of communication among the public. Once modern communication networks matured, most older commutation technologies became less popular. For example, less people go to libraries since the Internet was introduced; less people use pay phones since cellphones become widely used.

Negatives:
Modern communication networks:
  • Are highly dependent on hardware infrastructure such as signal tower, servers etc. As such, they are susceptible to failure as outlined in part B.
  • Require a high amount of resources to enable access both initially and subsequently. Modern communication networks all require significant amounts of money, time, and effort to setup and regulate. In addition, to access these networks, one must have the required resources, e.g. cellphone for cellular network, and a computer with internet connection for the Internet.
  • Modern hardware facilities and basic social infrastructure are far too dependent on modern communication network. For example, medical databases can be obtained through illegal access from a terminal connected through the Internet.
  • Can be easily disrupted by natural disasters, hardware failures, terrorist attacks, hacker invasions etc. This is seen during the Japanese Earthquake, where the fragility of the modern communication networks were revealed.
  • The public is extremely reliant on modern communication networks, and any disruption could cause loss of money, important information and even social chaos. For example, most companies heavily rely on the use of the Internet and telecommunications, and if one were to fail, the business would cease to function. Such businesses include: Most offices-based companies, shopping centers, medical clinics, studios etc.
  • Not the safest place to disclose or store important or personal information. As a recent study revealed, everything posted on the Internet will most likely remain for a very long time due to caching features on search engines such as Google.

D:
As our society is highly reliant on modern communication networks, and it has been shown that these networks are highly susceptible to failure through natural or human-caused disasters. Since the issue with the highly fragile nature of modern communication networks lies with the fact that they function through a sophisticated network of hardware infrastructure, a solution to the issue would most likely lie with preventing the infrastructure from damage.

As such, a possible solution is setting up redirection backup lines that can provide Internet and Cellular service when the parts of the main network fails. For example, when a earthquake strikes and communications are disabled, the government, Internet service providers and telecommunication companies may redirect all traffic from the disaster area to a backup line, such as using satellites. This will provide temporary coverage for communication at the stricken area.

However, the aforementioned solution cannot prevent all networks failures, such as that seen during the Japan Earthquake. If backup lines fail, the area will still be out of contact to the rest of the world. A solution to this is simple and already implemented. When modern communication networks failed, the Japanese turned back to radio and physical communications, which proved to be a rather efficient and foolproof way of communicating. Learning from the incident, society should take care to preserve old communication methods and networks, despite their age and less sophisticated functionality. Technologies such as radio and newspapers have not retired from society yet, but are showing declination. In the future, these communication methods need to be preserved in case of catastrophes.

The outlined solutions above are the most efficient and large scale solutions in terms of ensuring the stability of modern communication networks. However, other smaller solutions may be implemented to reduce the loss and impact of losing modern communication networks during a disaster. For example, individuals may want to save backups of important files on local storage, while rescue teams headed for stricken areas should equip radio communications. With global, area, and individual scaled solutions, the issue of fragile modern communication networks may be mitigated, and its ramifications kept to a bare minimum.