Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Couple of Closing Thoughts on Hurricane Irene

Damaged power lines burned in Nag's Head as Hurricane Irene hit the northern Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Hurricane Irene fully cleared my city (Boston) last week, we've had nice weather since, and everyone (or almost everyone) in Massachusetts has their power back at the time of this writing. Folks in some other states aren't quite so lucky.

But before we file away the memory and move on to the next storm or cyber incident, check out this Irene-related online exchange between a residential customer and a utility executive doing his best to keep his customers as informed as possible:
Q: Why am I getting calls to see if my power has been restored when in fact it has not been? I have a 4 year old and 1 year old and you can imagine what it is like being without power. 
A: One of the reasons we perform call backs is because crews have made repairs in the neighborhood and surrounding areas, and we want to ensure that each house has been restored. Without requesting a call back when you report an outage, we wouldn't know the service to your house is still out. Please make sure to report all outages to 1-877-xxx-yyyy.
Sounds like a region ripe and ready for its residential Smart Meter deployments, doesn't it? I'd say it's well worth the extra time and effort cyber professionals need to develop a secure Smart Grid to relegate conversations like this to history.

And the image of the totally chewed up poles (from Nag's Head, North Carolina) really caught my eye. Aren't the poles supposed to be holding up the lines ... and not the other way around? As immigrants to the electric sector quickly learn: cyber risks are one thing; Mother Nature is something else entirely.

Photo credit: Nicholas Kamm of AFP