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Home Page Editorial
September28, 2001)

From Publisher and Managing Editor's Desk... 

Aftermath of Sep 11, 2001 Tragedy- A Valiant Call To the Industry & Professionals  

September 11, 2001 will go down in world history as a day of horror and tragedy for all those who believe in freedom, democratic principles and free movement of people and ideas. Much has been discussed, written, filmed and analyzed from documentary, diplomatic, political, social and historical perspectives. A lot of broad business analysis has also been documented, especially from the stock market perspective. Yet, much less has been written about what we as business leaders and professionals can do to use our respective skills and positions to ensure that we reduce, if not eliminate, the impact of similar tragedies in future.  We are dedicating this editorial in our own unique way to this cause, from the perspective of our industry.

We believe that wireless and mobile computing has a unique opportunity and important role to play in making our lives safer. We list following areas areas where we can help in galvanizing our efforts: 

  1. Let the corporate objectives, business plans and mission statements also include our social responsibility to make our lives safer. It is not just the responsibility of the governments and public safety agencies. It is not being a good corporate citizen. We owe it to ourselves, future generations and the life style that guarantees the fundamental underpinnings of our businesses. Let each industry define what specific and concrete steps it is taking towards achieving these not lofty but essential goals. 
  2. Our definition of wireless network coverage must not include only the land mass but the skies above as well. We should allow wireless communication for passengers and professionals while in the air. As to its possible impact on air safety and possible interference with air-traffic control signals, we should attack the problem head-on and find ways to solve it by segregating frequency use or other means rather than do nothing about it. We, therefore, applaud efforts by Boeing and others to provide wireless voice and data access in the plane.  Search for "Boeing" on our home page. 
  3. We must recognize without any doubt the critical role that human voice plays in communication between families, friends, businesses and nations. This is all the more important in situations of accidents, fire, floods, earthquakes, and terrorist attacks. While e-mails, text messaging, Internet chat sessions, net meetings and other future modes of human interaction based on multi-media add value to exchange of our thoughts and feelings, it is the tone and tenor of our voices that convey our true feelings and thoughts. We can edit our e-mails carefully and "power-point" our presentations to convey not what we truly offer but what we would like others to believe that we offer, we find it much harder to fake our voices and therefore, our feelings. Secondly, with mobility truly becoming ubiquitous in space and across the globe, we must ensure that all forms of communication is available on land, in the sky and on the sea. Perhaps, we can cite the example of public safety wireless applications where the police officer relies on emergency voice communication if he/she is in true emergency even though there is an emergency button on the computer notebook mounted in the cruiser.
  4. The wireless industry must stop dilly-dallying its responsibility in moving forward with E911 initiative. We have heard lots of lame excuses from CTIA and network providers about the increase in cost and onerous time table that regulatory agencies have placed on them. Where there is a will, there is a way. When it comes to our survival, you do not want to delay this important need any longer. If it benefits your location-based applications, that is fine but not let this be the sole justification for moving forward. Let us call it a mandatory requirement for all current and future networks.
  5. While we cover the industry from a number of perspectives, including vertical industries, we do not see much emphasis placed on public safety and law enforcement applications and wireless networks. Law enforcement and public safety agencies may be well-served but deserve better deal from network providers. The writer remembers vividly a conversation that he had while acting as a consultant to a police agency who wanted to use a public-shared CDPD network but with a higher priority to the police agency over providers' business clients. The network provider refused. We call upon network providers to work more diligently to provide its network infrastructure to public safety agencies.
  6. We encourage all PDA vendors to add voice telephone functionality in their devices. It may be rudimentary but it is essential. The fact of the matter is that, BOM (bill of material or manufacturing) cost of adding this capability is now down to $10.00 to $20.00 range.
  7. Security issues in wireless networks have been discussed from corporate and m-commerce perspective. Let us discuss them from public safety and terrorist perspectives. Let us make a judicious and balanced tradeoff between privacy and security. Let us not be over-sensitive about government snooping into our private lives so long as there are checks and balances. We can give up a bit of privacy if we can be guaranteed some more security.
  8. We ask network providers to pay more attention to public safety i.e. law enforcement, fire and EMS (Emergency Medical Services like Ambulances) applications, by providing higher priority to such services during emergency. This can be done by class of service features in future networks. There is also a way of manually managing priority in emergencies.
  9. Wireless network providers and device manufacturers must implement encryption and information filtering laws that the governments in the free world are planning to legislate in the wake of September 11, 2001 attacks. The majority of public has stated a distinct willingness to give up some privacy in favour of enhanced security. Life is a matter of tradeoffs and balancing opposing factors.  This balances changes from time to time in our history. Today, we must respond to the new needs of the our times promptly.
  10. We should debate and explore the role of philanthropy and charity in private sector enterprises that impact public safety. Perhaps we may come up with a business model that might combine business ventures with philanthropic principles - something to think about.

For your comments, click here

Chander Dhawan - Your Site's Principal Consultant and Publisher

Related Resources:
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