Friday, June 13, 2008

Iowa Floods: What are the backups when technology is down?

As I continue to click through the links on the U of Iowa flood info blog, and find more and more of the links inoperable, I'm wondering about backups and redundancies and mobility. I'm sure that for folks on the ground in Iowa City they have a number of contingency plans at hand and ready to execute if something goes wrong. And I'm sure that they have multiple ways to communicate the most urgent information to those that need to know, should one channel of communication fail. What we're seeing on the blogs are best attempts to keep everyone else up to speed, given the urgency of the situation and what's actually working (and what's not), and our need to know (versus what is really important, i.e. getting those sandbags down and taking care of top priority concerns). At the moment I'm sure offices and staff are relocating to other sites. Its M*A*S*H but at an institutional level, covering lots of different situations, and probably without the laugh-track of the sitcom.

What is also interesting (and very encouraging) is the comprehensive sense of planning that an outside viewer like me gets from this electronic perch. For instance, this just popped up on the U of I flood blog a few minutes ago:

"Mental health and counseling services are available on the University of Iowa campus and in the Iowa City community to assist in flood-relief efforts, and UI and community counseling professionals offer suggestions for managing the stress and anxiety caused by recent flooding."

To me, this comment provides a sense of a well thought out plan and that the folks in Iowa City have covered all (or most) of the bases. They're doing everything that they can do in the face of who knows what nature's going to throw them next. If its possible to cheer you on with words of encouragement, absent being there to help fill sandbags or move special collection materials out of the lower levels of the library, then this Gopher is yelling at the top of his lungs "Go Hawkeyes!"

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