Global network crash just conspiracy hysteria?
Last Wednesday’s cellphone glitches across Aylmer grabbed everyone’s attention. They came three days after a major solar-ejection storm. A much bigger storm two years ago, facing just a few degrees away from Earth, was powerful enough to have wiped out all global communications, including the Internet. Last Wednesday’s blow-off mildly affected our internet and wifi networks – a taste of the possible. We take the wifi network for granted, but most people are aware that a network-wide problem is possible.
Depending on only one network for a communications system used every day is a very risky decision. Canada – both corporate and public – spends huge resources maintaining the wifi network so twitter, email and cell messages can be shared instantly, constantly. Yet a storm on the sun can knock it all out at three days’ notice.
Diversity and redundancy in this system are critical. This includes a pitch for the importance of newspapers. The value of hard-copy jumps with the possibility of loosing the electronic network – but a newspaper would not make it to print in the case of a network collapse. Newspapers are plugged into digital. Diversity is under the microscope here. Do Canadians invest enough in getting through power outages, wind micro-bursts, and sun storms? Even weathering a political storm needs emergency preparedness. A single-strand communications network is absolutely vulnerable.
In a black-out, police records, health files, and emergency responses will not function. Nor will calling a grandparent. The rural areas around Aylmer are poorly served by high-speed internet in the best of times, and, despite continual promises, that network needs improvement. In a crisis, all regions will be adrift.
Urban kids will have a collective melt-down if Snapchat or Instagram are off line for 48 hours. A crisis at election time would provoke near-hysteria. So much messaging of the public is done through electronic means! People self-mould their lives via Facebook-type algorithms which show people only what they wish to see. Remove this and people will be lost. Especially as they seek information about the crisis. Credible information is essential to limit conspiracy-hysteria for all Canadians, yet there’s no alternative system ready to click on in the event of a major solar ejection stream.
Bulletin readers know we’re lacking on fall-back systems of all types; we saw this during the flooding two years ago. No communications strategy was in place in Aylmer then, and from what the newsroom here at the Bulletin can tell, the same problem would present itself should a crisis occur tomorrow.
Being aware of what can hit our planet during a Northern Lights show is important to Aylmer. Sending photos of Marina sunsets is in fact a luxury, not a human right, and more important things, like our ability to check in with kids via a text message, can disappear in an instant. And there’s no back-up plan?