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Giving Away Computers, Dispensing Peace of Mind
From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2001 03:04:14 -0500 (CDT)


September 24, 2001

When disaster strikes, Brent Woodworth is usually not far behind.
Floods, earthquakes and bombings are his business. His rsum includes
laboring at the scene of 70 catastrophes, natural and man-made
earthquakes in Turkey, flooding in Peru, the 1995 Oklahoma City
bombing as the head of the I.B.M. crisis response team.

Over the years, Mr. Woodworth has done everything from reviving
databases to digging for survivors. In his grim yet hopeful line of
work, Mr. Woodworth has befriended many of the disaster specialists at
insurance companies, and he personally knew seven of them who are
missing and presumed dead after the World Trade Center attack on Sept.

"It's just tragic they were great people," Mr. Woodworth said, pausing
from his work at New York City's emergency command center, where his
unit is set up.

Mr. Woodworth personifies the first wave of the information technology
industry's efforts to recover and rebuild from the terrorist attacks.
Much of his team's work is a form of humanitarian aid: cooperating
with government agencies and the Red Cross, distributing notebook
computers and hand-helds and setting up software without charge.

In New York, Mr. Woodworth and his I.B.M. team offer practical
business advice and technology, like setting up a wireless network and
handing out 250 BlackBerry hand-held computers for sending e-mail
messages in the devastated tip of Lower Manhattan, where cellphone
service has been spotty. The hand-helds went to Red Cross workers and
state and city officials, including Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. "Well,
he's on the list anyway," Mr. Woodworth said, adding that an aide
would probably operate the device for the mayor.

Yet elsewhere, Mr. Woodworth's work has often been decidedly low-
tech. After the earthquake in Turkey in 1999, he noticed that people
seemed to be frozen by the fear of aftershocks that could leave them
trapped alive in damaged buildings.

So I.B.M. passed out thousands of whistles. The notion was that if
people became trapped they could blow the whistles, and the rescue
workers and relatives could then find them. "There are a lot of simple
`peace of mind' things you can do," Mr. Woodworth explained.

In New York, Mr. Woodworth and his 25-person team are working mainly
with the Red Cross and government agencies, but I.B.M. also had 1,200
customers within a two- block radius of the World Trade Center. Mr.
Woodworth participates in the conference calls, every four hours since
the attacks, involving the managers in charge of I.B.M.'s disaster
recovery business.

"We work hand in hand with Brent's crisis response team," said David
Daniel, who runs an I.B.M. disaster-recovery data center in upstate
New York. "They are right there on the scene, our eyes and ears on the

I.B.M.'s disaster-recovery and contingency-planning business generates
an estimated $600 million a year in revenues, according to the Gartner
Group, a research firm. "That is a good business," Mr. Woodworth said.
"But I.B.M. also thinks it's important to do the more humanitarian
work like my team is doing here. We're not selling anything or
charging for what we do. We're just trying to be responsive to
communities where we do business."

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