In a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, Sen. Ron Wyden, (D-Ore.) and Andrew Rasiej, chairman of the NY Tech Meetup, made the case that the U.S. needs a technology national guard to rebuild critical infrastructure when disaster strikes. A National Emergency Technology Guard, or NET Guard, could build emergency cell towers, set up mesh Wi-Fi networks and maintain information systems both after and before a major crisis occurs.
The idea isn’t a new one. After 9/11, Intel employees joined with Silicon Alley experts to help get schools, companies, and organizations back online. However, the Federal Emergency Management Agency refused assistance from uncredentialed and unvetted outsiders. In response, Sen. George Allen (D-Va.) proposed a NET Guard, or a citizen corps of professional technologists. The bill was incorporated into the Homeland Security Act of 2002, but the Guard has never been activated.