An IT Perspective on the Bombings in Boston

Many reporters have contacted me for an IT perspective on the April 15 bombings in Boston.  

Within moments of the event, social media became the preferred mechanism for communication and coordination. I was on a plane from Los Angeles to Boston at 36,000 feet when the bombs exploded and received real time twitter feeds, streaming video, and email from staff via GoGo WiFi.

As my experience illustrates, the most critical IT responsibility immediately after the event was maintaining robust, reliable, and secure infrastructure. Given the peaks in traffic flow for communication and social media applications, many systems, such as the cell phone networks, were taxed beyond their design limits.   BIDMC networks, servers, storage, and client devices scaled well and there was no interruption of service.

Here's what my Director of Support Services said about the IT response on Monday afternoon:

"The IS Manager on Call was in phone contact with me within 20 minutes of the explosions. Staff covering the Computer Operations/IS Alerting function did a great job. Our desktop staff was paged by the BIDMC Command Center seeking media services support for LCD displays/projectors. The Emergency Response folks located the Command Center on the West Campus because of the ED activity (they usually locate it on the East Campus during storms, etc.). We stood ready to deploy additional equipment but the Command Center was stocked with everything necessary. We check and maintain Command Center equipment on a monthly basis.

I was in touch with all my managers and staff by 4pm. There were no open IT issues.

We initiated a fan-out call list just to check on IS staff wellbeing – but also in case we needed them to come into the operations center for any reason.

Aside from the shock and eventual anger we all felt at having this happen in our home town, it was a typical operational day."

We continue to support our hard working doctors, nursing and staff who are treating 21 injured patients of which 7 are considered critical.

I'm sure there will be many lessons learned by the time these events have passed. I will definitely post my experiences and reflections.