In pocket of power left after Isabel's passing, Virginia holds IT summit

In pocket of power left after Isabel's passing, Virginia holds IT summit

ROANOKE, Va.'Several hundred systems chiefs and techies converged in this small Virginia city over the weekend for the Commonwealth of Virginia IT Symposium 2003.

'By the time you get home, you will have power," Virginia Gov. Mark Warner promised the audience at last night's kickoff reception.

Warner said he had spent the weekend inspecting damage from Hurricane Isabel, which has deprived many mid-Atlantic areas of electric power, water, phone and other services since last Wednesday. Tidewater Virginia attendees said their homes, cars and other possessions had been damaged, but the biggest complaint was no power.

"The storm didn't cause massive cancellations" at COVITS, Warner said, because "they still have power here" in Roanoke. The audience cheered.

Warner said his first priority was restoring power to hospitals. "Technology and communications have gotten us through this crisis," he said. "The system really did work. Early notification was the reason there were not more deaths."

The governor said much of his technology agenda was modeled on that of John Engler, the former government of Michigan who is now president for state and local government at EDS Corp.

State technology secretary George Newstrom said Virginia needs broadband access all over to enable it to compete in the global marketplace. COVITS drew 900 attendees registered from 20 states and 18 nations.

Warner, along with Newstrom, Roanoke Mayor Ralph Smith and other officials, "cut the wire" with a huge pair of pruning shears to inaugurate Roanoke's new wireless IEEE 802.11b WiFi network downtown. Each registered resident can tap the WiFi Internet access for up to two hours per day from notebook or handheld PCs.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University officials said they are piloting the LambdaRail, a nationwide research WAN that at 10- to 40-gigabit/sec data rates is faster than Gigabit Ethernet. The $80 million, optically switched network is independent of telecommunications protocols such as Synchronous Optical Network. It will be come online early next year, Virginia Tech officials said.

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