US Senator Ron Wyden is asking for a technological equivalent of the US military's National Guard, which would quickly safeguard the nation's communications infrastructure during a national crisis such as a terrorist attack.
The National Guard is comprised of military volunteers from the various branches of the US armed services, such as the Army and the Marine Corps. In times of crisis, they are called upon to augment the regular military forces.
Members are required to attend one drill weekend each month and one annual training period each year.
Wyden, the chair of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space, intends to discuss the formation of a National Emergency Technology Guard (NET Guard) with the Senate in the next week.
Wyden said he would utilise the Subcommittee, which he chairs, to initiate a dialogue among Congressional, corporate, military and non-profit leaders to begin an effort to mobilise information technology in times of crisis.
He has suggested that US information technology companies could organise and lead a national volunteer response team to "quickly reactivate and safeguard the nation's communication capability and infrastructure in times of critical need, just as the National Guard is ready to move during emergencies."
According to Wyden, NET Guard units would stand ready with designated computer equipment, satellite dishes, wireless communicators and other resources to quickly recreate and repair compromised communications and technology infrastructures.
"With Congressional support, the leaders of our nation's technology companies could organise themselves, their employees and their resources," Wyden said.
"Medium and small-sized businesses would be able to contribute once a national framework was put in place."
He also said he agreed with a New York Times conclusion that there needs to be new ways to set up emergency information systems.
He said families of victims had no immediate central clearinghouse to find information or file missing person's reports following the tragic events of 11 September.
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