Oops! I think that is how e.republic felt when after doing a system upgrade--nothing digital was working right, including the their system that I use "blogger" to do my Disaster Zone blog postings.
So, no I did not die, go on vacation (even when on vacation I try to blog), or survive a trip to the hospital. The system is back up and running and so I'm Baaaack!
“We need to support interoperability, but it doesn’t require uniformity.” Mike McCaffree I was at my wife’s office Christmas party last night and when you are around emergency managers—you talk shop. Sitting next to Mike McCaffree he said the above and I thought that it was very quotable.
Isn’t it true that when some people say “interoperability” it is though everyone has to have the exact same equipment and procedures. Interoperability isn’t defined in the “who” does what. “Where” is irrelevant to interoperability. “How” can be important, but still there should be flexibility in “how” you do things to provide for some creativity and adaptation to the situation. “What” has more sway in interoperability, yet again, the “what” does not need to be totally uniform if it is still possible for diverse sets of people and organizations to interact in a unified manner.
Interoperability needs to be a “framework” and not a “straightjacket” for how we do things.
Recently I was asked for ideas on what I might say to someone considering a position of public safety director for a state. I jotted down some random thoughts in no particular order below. What did I miss? Leave a comment. Maybe someone will benefit from your ideas about what is important.
- The speed of change is just huge. Technology is a driver, but other things happening too.
- I expect there is a significant turn over in senior staff down to mid-management level across the board. People held off retiring due to the recession and it should be happening there in ___ as it is here in WA. Lots of junior people moving up the ladder. Good energy, but without the institutional knowledge. Establishing a formal knowledge transfer system before people walk out the door could really help.
- Incredible budget pressures. We won’t go back to where we were in 2008. This is the new normal. Getting by with less is the norm, get used to getting by with little.
- I don’t know about pensions in ____, but they are an Achilles Heel here in WA with cities and counties. In Pierce and King Counties (two largest in the state) the counties are spending over 75% of their operating budgets on law, safety and justice programs(cops, courts, prosecutor, jail). That leaves 25% for everything else in govt.
- Back to technology:
- FirstNet—need to jump on this and not screw it up. The Governor has to opt in or out. Don’t leave the decision up to just the IT guys (or whoever), it requires coordination vertically and horizontally across the public safety spectrum in a state. Private sector too!! Implementation should begin on your new Governor’s watch. This should be a top priority for the next administration—public safety
- Drones/UAV are a disruptor technology. It has huge value and needs to be managed right so people don’t see it just as a spy in the sky.
- I of course am a big believer in social media and what it can do
- It is not about climate change or global warming. Speak to it as climate variability. Doesn’t make a hoot what is causing the rise in temperatures we need to deal with the consequences. Climate adaptation is what that is about. Typically we’d call it mitigation, but in climate circles climate mitigation is about carbon reduction. What we saw happen in NY/NJ with Super Storm Sandy is what we are concerned about. Need to think long-term—most models use 2100.
- I think climate adaptation will be the next big project/planning/grant opportunity (?) coming out of the Feds
- Alternatively, cybersecurity is a hot topic. This requires different know how and perhaps different faces and knowledge to be effective.
- Speaking of grants, they are now about 25% of what the HLS funding was in the heyday. Funding O&M for everything that was purchased will be problematic. Will need to prioritize.
- National Flood Insurance is a hot topic now with rates set to go up. Congress passed the bill to have market rates and those are hitting people hard. Best thing to do is move people out of harms way. Establish green space or elevate.
- Understand what the catastrophic disasters are for your state. Hurricanes, earthquakes, sea rise?
- As an interviewer I’d want to know what his philosophy is towards working with the Feds and with locals.
- You need to think about what type of staff you will surround yourself with:
- Traits of people, team players,
- Experience or connections
- Technical knowhow or ?
- I think the screw-up on Obama Care shows that “Execution is the chariot of Genius” not enough to have a good idea. Need to execute on it. Daily operations are important
- The budget is king at this level.
- Attitudes toward civilians who want to help. You cannot keep them at arms distance anymore during disasters. Social media is helping them to self-organize and we need to incorporate their energies into our response and recovery activities.
- Disaster Recovery planning has probably not been done for the state…just guessing.
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The world of alerting has changed significantly in the last twenty years. For local warning about the only thing we had was the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) and then sirens. Nationally the National Warning System (NWAS) phone network (which is still around by the way) connected communications and warning centers.
Today it is a much more complex world. We went from hard-line systems like "Reverse 911" to mobile technologies that send texts. Social media is creeping into the alerting world too. The number of companies offering alerting services is amazingly complex. Which one to select? Yikes! It can be confusing.
With all the above in mind, Rick Wimberly has a blog called Alerts and Notifications where he specializes in those topics. He has a blog post Survey on Hot alerting Topics that contains a link for you to provide your input. I have not taken it since that sometimes screws up my ability to forward a survey.
One of the things I like about the profession of emergency management is the willingness to help one another and contribute to our profession. Take a few minutes and like me, do that survey.
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Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon surprised more than one person when he showed off the possibility of using drones to make delivery of Amazon goods to people's doorstep. See this 60 Minutes segment on Amazon Interestingly the delivery of pizza by Dominos using drones was considered a publicity stunt just a few months back.
I encourage you to watch the entire video (the drone part is at the end). It shows how modern companies are acting and building for the future, taking advantage of technology. Just this past week I blogged on Amazon's Web Services (AWS) and how it has taken off. I think they maybe backed into cloud services because they needed it for their own system's functioning.
Here is the point I see from the story and the application to emergency management. Bezos knows that drones and drone delivery won't fly until the rules and regulations are worked out by the FAA. The date for that is projected to be in 2015. He thinks the technology to make the delivery of Amazon goods by drone might be ready by that date. It is these commercial applications of drone technology that will help us in our application of drones for our needs for situational awareness. Business will plow the way for us--since they have the lobbying power and oomph to tailor new regulations.
Stand by for more news on drones--it is a disruptive technology!
If you are in higher education emergency management, and you have a travel budget, you might consider the Best Practices in Higher Education Emergency Management Conference
Note that they are still entertaining proposals for presentations.
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“Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status.” Laurence J. Peter In disaster recovery this then is the biggest issue we face; the desire to put things immediately back to where they were.
I see two challenging forces at work in recovery. First is the desire for speed in order to get business going again and for people to have a semblance of their previous lives. Secondly, there is the need for a more deliberative approach that allows for real dialog between people impacted by the disaster to achieve a new and better community.
You know we complain about the status quo, but then want to resume it as soon as possible—I think in large part because that is what we know and are familiar with.
Another quote I just read this morning, “Walter Peacock and Kathleen Ragsdale…assert that a market based disaster recovery process often leads to the restoration of the status quo rather than the incorporation of principles of equity.”
How many different types of emergency management software "mousetrap" solutions are there? I really don't know and by stumbling across Emergency Visions I found one that I had not heard of before.
Due to my work schedule and need to "get things done" I have not had the time to poke around this system. Feel free to leave a comment if you know something about the product or the company.
HSIN just released a newsletter, see HSIN Advocate
The question I have for you is, "How much do you use HSIN and what do you use it for?" Do you find it a valuable source of information or are there other sources of information that you use instead of HSIN that you find more pertinent?
Information is King and knowing what channels are being used to share and find out relevant information is something emergency managers need to understand. Please leave a comment on how relevant you find HSIN to be.
This is a county level position Chief of Emergency Management in New Mexico.
A couple of qualifications that you don't see every day for an emergency management position:
- Currently possess a Wild land Fire “Red Card” or must receive certification within one (1) year from date of hire in one or more of the position descriptions in the National Interagency Incident Management System Wild land Fire Qualification System Guide, PMS 310-1 related to emergency management duties within an Incident Command Post or Emergency Operations Center.
- Currently licensed or certified by the State of New Mexico as an Emergency Medical Technician, firefighter, paramedic or sworn law enforcement officer preferred.
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