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May 2010 Archives
May 04, 2010

Are you living and working in the Pacific Northwest, or planning to be in and around the Portland, Oregon area on 14 or 15 May? If so, you should plan on attending the Northwest Fire & Rescue Exposition being held at the Portland Expo Center.

I'll be speaking there both days (the same topic each day) on Regional Approaches for preparing for and responding to disasters of all types. This is going to be a highly interactive session with lots of time for audience participation and questions. It would be great to have you join me for one of my sessions.

The equipment displays are also supposed to be outstanding with many new vendors this year.


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May 05, 2010

Previously I've advocated for harnessing social media tools for your use in disaster response and recovery. Sometimes I feel like a broken record on this topic. One of my points that I keep making is that if "you don't provide the forum, citizens are going to self-organize and do it for you."

One such example from the recent Gulf Oil Spill is Oilreport This is a Twitter site that is being used to track where the oil is located.

See two tweets that are on the site now:

#oilreport tweets need to will automatically have geotags and timestamp that will be a part of the report record. #oilspill

#oilreport tweets generated by eyewitness volunteers will be collected & mapped by partners in #crisiscommons for civic benefit. #oilspill

Currently there aren't hundreds or thousands of followers on this site, but the example is clear. Imagine if BP or the incident response team (ICS) had a link for people to report finding oil and have it geocoded to a map automatically. It would only add to the official picture that is being painted by government sources.

We need to be in the game! It is an example of what a Disaster Wiki could do. More on Disaster Wiki in a future post.


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May 05, 2010

Hurricane Season is right around the corner and DHS is sponsoring a webinar called 2010 Hurricane Season: Tools for Understanding Risk

Background on the webinar follows:

Each year, the Nation braces for hurricane season as communities along the Gulf of Mexico and the East Coast prepare for potentially catastrophic losses, and partners across the country plan for supply shocks that could impact every aspect of the national economy. Whether partners are in the path of the storm or preparing for anticipated supply chain disruptions, the Homeland Infrastructure Threat and Risk Analysis Center (HITRAC) can support their decision-making and the expeditious recovery and reconstitution of critical infrastructure systems and functions.

This CIKR Learning Series Webinar will highlight HITRAC's hurricane-related advanced modeling, simulation, and analysis capabilities. The Webinar will also present dynamic hurricane operational risk analysis conducted using the integrated Incident Risk Analysis Cell (iRAC). Available to the Department's critical infrastructure partners, iRAC is an invaluable tool for improving pre-incident planning, prioritizing incident response, and expediting reconstitution activities.

The online event will be held on May 12, 1:00-2:00PM EDT

You can register at the link above.


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May 05, 2010

ESRI is of course a leading company in geographical information system (GIS) software. They pretty much own the government market in the Western United States.

In response to the Gulf Oil Spill they have deployed an online mapping tool that allows the plotting of incidents and assets. If you are responding to the event and don't have a mapping tool this might be what you need.

I also like that they have included some social media links as part of the website and the mapping program.

Check out ESRI Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Map


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May 05, 2010

After every incident (or almost incident) there is a drum beat of calls from New York City for their city to get more Homeland Security Funding. If we gave them ALL THE MONEY it would lessen our administrative burden on grants and filling out the reports that DHS demands.

See below for some facts and then also the calls for reapportioning the funding:

How NY State is Spending its FFY09 HLS Funding

Wake up call in Times Square

NYPD bomb squad: Car device could have killed

From the story above, "After a short meeting with the officers, Bloomberg said they had to leave for a hearing in Washington, D.C., where he said he would seek additional homeland security funds to pay for the police department's technology and training."

Does New York City Receive Enough in Homeland Security Grant Funds?

The above is a very thoughtful discussion of the issue by Josh Filler at his Homeland Protection Zone blog.

Homeland Security Spending by State

My thoughts in summary:

  • If I was NYC I'd be doing the same thing
  • You remember this is a political process that apportions the funding. Every state has elected officials who need to be appeased. My technical term for this process is called "spreading the peanut butter" across all jurisdictions
  • There might be some slight increases for NYC, but it is a fixed sum we are dealing with and there are worries that the good old USA could end up where Greece is today in very short order.
Thanks to my Research Assistant, Diane Newman for all the good links she dug up!


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May 06, 2010

Perhaps I'm not the last person on the planet to have an "aha" moment when I read the CBS News item Digital Photocopiers Loaded with Secrets

The bottom line is that everything you copy on a digital copier gets stored on a hard drive in the machine. So when the lease is up on that copier everything you copied goes with it--unless of course you take action to prevent the hard drive carrying your sensitive information with it.

Most people know to take their personal PC's and wipe the hard drive clean. When I got rid of my last personal desktop I took the hard drive out and drilled a hole through it (which is a technique that someone shared with me).

These days emergency managers are now exposed to many more SSI (Security Sensitive Information) documents. This may come from your interaction with Fusion Centers or storage of critical infrastructure inventories, not to mention your own staff's personal information like social security numbers.

This is just one more protective action that you need to be mindful of.


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May 06, 2010

I just got this on my email a few minutes ago.

Modeling the Oil Spill which provides a web link to a web map that is trying to predict the trajectory of the oil as it interacts with the prevailing currents in the Gulf of Mexico.

An interpretation of the current (no pun intended) status comes from Bev Ciglar:

"What's especially interesting about the modeling effort is that it highlights what is known as the Loop Current, a warm current in the Gulf that flows north between Cuba and the Yucatan, moves north into the Gulf, and then loops west and south before exiting to the east through the Florida Straits. It looks like much of Florida's gulf coast would be safe as the oil would be in very deep water beyond the continental shelf. If the oil goes through the Straits of Florida, it would be close to land and would go past Miami and Palm Beach and ride the Gulf Stream to NC and even farther north. That would take months so let's hope that dropping the 98 ton "cap" this a.m. will start working, which BP should know by Sunday. To date, the loop current is creeping toward the oil, not the other way around."


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May 07, 2010

Simplicity is often the best thing you can have when you try to explain complicated actions and events. Too many times we try to explain the intricacies of technical issues to the general public and elected officials.

Remember that during the middle of an event what you are trying to achieve is understanding by the audiences you are trying to inform. I recall during a Weapons of Mass Destruction Exercise (TOPOFF2) we had health physicists trying to explain the radiation implications. They had trouble doing so to lay people because they were making it too complicated. Having a simple cartoon like diagram that walks people through the issue and provides a visual that complements the verbal is a terrific technique.

All of this was prompted by an Aljazeera news briefing on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I'm sure you have heard a number of "verbal" explanations of what when wrong and what is being done to fix the leak (multiple leaks for that matter).

Marty Pastula shared the link above. So Marty, why are you watching Aljazeera anyway? Do we need to put you on the no-fly list? :) Or, do you just like things explained simply?


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May 07, 2010

You do not want to miss Garry Briese's presentation on the Four Essentials of Life! I've had the opportunity to hear him speak on this topic and it will get you thinking about what's really important. See below:

When: May 12, 2010 -- 12:00 Noon Eastern
EMForum.org is pleased to host a one hour presentation and interactive discussion Wednesday, May 12, 2010, beginning at 12:00 Noon Eastern time (please convert to your local time). This program will challenge several current operational paradigms for emergency and homeland security leaders by re-examining "The Four Essentials of Life: Communications, Transportation, Power and Water."

The objective of the presentation is to open dialogue about the necessity of re-framing the model we have about our understanding of how these key four aspects of the "emergency management world" really operate, and the necessity of understanding and integrating human behavior into the design of our emergency management response.

Our guest will be Garry L. Briese, Vice President/Co-founder of The Center for New Media & Resiliency, and a Principal in the professional services and consulting company Briese and Associates. Mr. Briese previously served as Regional Administrator for FEMA Region 8 and as Executive Director of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) from 1985 to 2007. He also served as Executive Director of the Florida College of Emergency Physicians, and has over 36 years' experience in all levels of emergency services including local, state, national and international.

Go to the web site link above and you will be provided details on how to log on for the event. It is really easy to do. Check your system out if it is the first time you are participating. They have a link there to do that too.


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May 08, 2010

The debate has certainly started on how to incorporate social media (Web 2.0) into your Incident Command System (ICS) protocols. Earlier I posted an item where the National Fire Service is starting to incorporate training into their ICS courses.

In a Crisis Blogger post from back in March Gerald Baron let's Fire Chief Bill Boyd expound on his beliefs on that subject. Having been a fire service PIO Bill certainly seems to have "seen the light" and the direction things are headed for the future.

You can agree or disagree, but I can tell you that you need to start adapting to the new reality of how citizens are seeking and obtaining their information these days.

Neil Clement called this blog posting to my attention.


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