In a news article on this site, I wrote about Rachel Chalmer’s vision for the future of the internet. In her keynote at 451Research’s Hosting and Cloud Transformation Summit, she made a personal reference to a friend who was receiving a treatment for Leukemia made possible only because of the development of cloud computing. Later during her speech, she referred to other developments made possible by technology. And later in the conference we were treated to a presentation by Mike Brown, professor of Planetary Astronomy at the California Institute of Astronomy, in which he discusses how technology helped him “kill” Pluto.

The technology stories were interesting, but I remember the presentations more for the passionate examples.

On Friday, September 14th though, I was treated to an even greater passion tale, when I visited the office of Peter Curtis, long-time Mission Critical columnist. Peter is one of those guys who has combined his passion with his life’s work, and all because of the 9/11 terror attacks. You see Peter was in the World Trade Center on the day of the attacks and was only 200 yards away when 1 World Trade Center collapsed. He says that his life was in jeopardy three different times that day, and he tells how he came across a woman who was able to unlock a building entrance  for him so that he didn’t suffocate from the ash, smoke, and air particles that filled the air after the building collapse.

network imagePeter didn’t lose his life, but his business was ruined. Many of his customers were in those buildings, and he lost a number of contracts because of the attacks.

Peter and his wife discussed what to do next, and he talks openly about how emergency government funding made it possible for him to continue in business, but what he really did was combine his business and his new passion for the mission critical industry and public safety.

I don’t think I would have ever learned of his story, except that Peter’s company, Power Management Concepts (PMC), is headquartered inside the Morrelly Homeland Security Center, where PMC also manages the Center’s Mission Critical Infrastructure. Peter has written about this facility many times, but his involvement in the center came about because of his 9/11 experiences. After 9/11 there was a strong need to develop a system to facilitate first response to national disasters between multiple agencies, groups, and organizations. The Morrelly facility opened with a vision to connect local homeland security with the state and national levels to improve first response to disasters. Inside the facility multiple companies participate in a resident research partnership, which aims to combine the expertise of companies to improve technology and get new technology to market. Today, PMC provides engineering, technology, and research that facilitates training the next generation of mission critical professionals and first responders.

A few years ago PMC merged its software product M.C. Access with a company named Balfour Technologies, and created a new company called VCORE Solutions. VCORE Solutions visualizes information from cameras, monitors, and sensors, which facilitate first responders during critical events, providing them real time information and situational awareness, this product is called 4DScape.

4DScape is the first of its kind and helps first responders in New York City, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. Peter reports that new instances are being developed for 30 large metro areas across the Globe.  The data feeding the 4dscape include public records, cameras, emergency calls from many jurisdictions, weather information, highway and traffic information, airport conditions, and much more.

You see Peter did not simply re-open his mission critical consulting business; he used his industry expertise to form his new businesses, which are dedicated to helping first responders meet important public challenges and to keep them as safe as possible while doing so. Today Peter is leveraging this technology into the mission critical world, which has millions of cameras, monitors, and sensors that require real time information.  Many people from in the past and present have supported Peter in his industry-leading visions in the mission critical industry and homeland security industries.

More can be done, of course, but it does appear that IT finally is on the verge of helping society achieve truly great things, like cure cancer or even anticipate and prevent terror attacks.