Natural Disasters and Green Tech

By Angela Orebaugh, Booz Allen Hamilton Cyber Fellow

Over the past year, we've seen a number of destructive natural events from the June “derecho” that struck the Metro DC area to Hurricane Sandy. These storms caused billions of dollars in damage to buildings and infrastructure, including mass disruption of electrical service. On more than one occasion, electrical crews from dozens of neighboring states were called upon to help repair power lines and restore service to customers. This isn't something I remember seeing much of in the past, but as the population grows and cities and towns expand, the same outdated electric grid is expanding and serving more and more people by the day. During power outages, many without generators flock to the stores in hopes of finding one. Generators provide a temporary crutch until the main power supply is restored, but generators require fuel, often in the form of gas or propane. As we are seeing in New York and New Jersey in the aftermath of Sandy, the gasoline supply is becoming scarce (or inoperable due to lack of power) and rationing and long lines are the current norm.

Green technology cannot lessen the natural impact of the wind and water of these events, but it does have the ability to lessen the impact of the power outages on households, businesses, and infrastructure. Using green technology such as solar panels would provide enough electricity for the basics (or at least cell phone charging) without the need for gas. The Smart Grid may make the electric grid more storm proof by providing decentralized, redundant microgrids and islanding of energy generation and distribution. The benefit of green technology was demonstrated during Japan's blackouts after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, as Tohoku Fukushi University maintained power due to its microgrid of distributed generators and batteries. With the right kind of grid installed, batteries in electric vehicles may be used to provide power to homes during power outages.

Green technologies such as these have yet to be fully adopted; however, green technology products and services could see an increase in demand if events like the derecho and Hurricane Sandy become more frequent. At a minimum, I know I’m going to purchase a solar cell phone charger soon.


Angela Orebaugh is a Senior Associate with Booz Allen Hamilton and acts as a technology futurist and thought leader with a focus in cybersecurity. She synergizes her 18 years of strategic and technical experience within commercial, academic, and government environments to advise clients on next generation technologies and disruptive innovation. Ms. Orebaugh evangelizes social media and mobile technologies by highlighting the powerful ways in which these technologies are changing business, communications, and information sharing. Ms. Orebaugh educates clients on the security and privacy implications of constantly changing and emerging technologies and provides guidance on applying the appropriate measures to protect the organization and its assets from security incidents.

Ms. Orebaugh is an internationally recognized author of best selling technology books including, Wireshark and Ethereal Network Protocol Analyzer Toolkit, Ethereal Packet Sniffing, and Nmap in the Enterprise. She has also co-authored the Snort Cookbook, Intrusion Prevention and Active Response, and How to Cheat at Configuring Open Source Security Tools. She is an invited speaker at a variety of cybersecurity conferences and technology events including the SANS Institute and The Institute for Applied Network Security.

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