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December 2009 Archives
December 01, 2009

While you can probably get many high school students to come set up a Wi-Fi system in a remote location, there is something handy about having a mobile Wi-Fi capability in a go kit configuration.

Check out Xirrus.com for two differently sized kits. One for 100 concurrent users and another for 200 users. The top end cost is $6K and would add capability to anyone's continuity of operations planning.

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December 01, 2009

Where will you send your news releases when there are no more newspapers? Wake up people, the traditional media you have dealt with in the past is dying a rapid death. Another nail in the coffin was the recent announcement that the Washington Post will close its last national bureaus

Here in the Seattle area we had one paper stop publishing a traditional edition and move to only an online presence. More are sure to follow--and soon. Even the news magazines are suffering.

So, how will you communicate and dialog with your community? The answer of course is social media. Now is the time to get started on that path if not there already. You can post an Op-ed every day if you want--by blogging.

Remember the gift of social media is the two-way dialog that it enables. Tweeting and blogging are not just another web page. The dialog they provide gives you credibility in an increasingly mistrustful world.

Start now because the future is not that far away.

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December 01, 2009

There is a new DHS IG report on the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) ability to detect chemical or biological weapons entering the USA. The good news is that there has been a tremendous effort to improve our protective posture since the 9/11 attacks. Much of that focus has been on nuclear materials. The bad news is that there is room for improvement. CBP is hopeful that some technologies are showing promise in assisting them in being able to detect threats.

If you have never seen a redacted document--this is a good example of one.

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December 02, 2009

Bill Cumming shared the link to Project White Horse

In the title of this posting I call it "new" since it is new to me. There is some interesting stuff there on decision making. As noted in their "About" page they say:

Project White Horse began as a quest, first, for understanding the elements of time critical decision making in worst case disasters (those defined as inconceivable, potentially uncontrollable and with extreme aspects of uncertainty and chaos), and second, for further knowledge necessary to support readiness of the people who will be called upon to make those decisions when time is their enemy.

Certainly this describes disaster situations and the leadership issues that emergency managers face during those times.

Check it out!

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December 02, 2009

How do you define "long-term?" Most of our disaster recovery revolves around the FEMA public and individual assistance programs. Some of these stretch on into decades--at least in the case of the Mt. Saint Helens eruption it went almost 20 years.

There is a joint effort underway to do long-term recovery planning. HUD and DHS have teamed up in a joint effort called DisasterRecoveryWorkingGroup.gov to study the issues surround this challenge of providing for more disaster resiliency in our communities.

J. Mikhael Schlossman, FEMA shared this link and mentioned a December 15th deadline. I suppose this is the deadline for us to provide comments. They have provided a series of questions to get stakeholder engagement

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December 02, 2009

Denial is a vexing issue in getting people motivated to become and stay prepared. Bill Read, Director of the National Hurricane Warning Center calls attention to the issue in the Op-ed he wrote referencing people and organizational attitudes towards disasters and being "up front" with one another about the hazard and how mitigation can help--if enforced.

He points out in Remember Hurricane Ike, not the quiet storm season that people forget very quickly what they faced once the winds stop blowing and the storm surge is over. The role that simple information can play--placing high water signs in communities as a reminder and how chambers of commerce are more interested in their pocketbooks than the lives and livelihoods of the people they are trying to attract to their towns.

People want government "out of their lives" and I say, OK! You can buy flood insurance, or if you turn it down, then there is no federal bailout for your lack of interest in your personal financial welfare. Publish Post

On a related note, see No Levee Is Flood-Proof â€" and Other Critical Information to Tell Citizens
Which is another example of squaring with people. I still chuckle at the new housing area in my town that is advertised as being just off (meaning next to) Levee Road.

Da-nile and then Duh? what's a levee?

Steve Weinstein shared the link to the Op-ed.

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December 03, 2009

The White Horse Project web site provided (via Bill Cumming) what I believe is a great find.

They have a European Command paper on Teams of Leaders (TOL) If you think about the EUCOM setting of multi-national military commands coming together to unite for a common purpose, you might easily understand the challenges of bringing the cross cultural aspects of the people and functions together.

What struck me was the similarity to our everyday workplaces and incident command. The normal hierarchical walls that separate us are falling rapidly--if we let them. To succeed in the new economy will require us to adapt to new ways of working together in order to reap the benefits and economies of scale.

This "learning from the military" reminded me that people always remark how Incident Command came from California and FIRESCOPE. For those of you with no military background, let me tell you that you can take any military person and show them ICS and they will instantly recognize the structure and concepts that ICS has--since they came from the art of warfare.

Take a look at the link I provided above. Note the reliance and need for the building of relationships and trust between individuals and organizations. There are some performance measurements (that's what I call them) near the end. How does your jurisdiction and "region" measure up?

December 03, 2009

Tomorrow, December 5th should be the day that the Department of Homeland Security announces the grant guidance for a number of their 2010 grants.

First off is the amount of the grants and next is the grant guidance--areas of emphasis and the process for the formal application of funds.

I'm thinking that there might be an attempt to get the funds out quicker this year as part of effort towards economic stimulus during this recession. Maybe not--but, it is a pile of money.

The danger is that when you try to spend money quickly you don't always spend it wisely. Hopefully calmer heads will prevail and states and local jurisdictions will have the opportunity to thoughtfully consider their options and how to allocate the federal funds.

Stand by for news!

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December 04, 2009

We all have created or distributed preparedness materials to our citizens. These are handed out at preparedness presentations, available on counters in offices or at libraries.

Grays Harbor County, Washington State has just one of those pamphlets--in their case I might say, book. The All Hazards Guide is a pretty comprehensive list of hazards and what you can do to protect yourself and your property. The county is located along the Washington Coast in Southwest Washington with a population of around 67,000. Because they have some tourist areas those numbers can swell dramatically when the weather is good and there are various festivals in the region.

Check it out and see if there is something there that you may have missed in your materials. I suppose if you are in Kansas you won't use the tsunami evacuation materials--unless you are planning on a 2012 scenario.

Rob Harper, Washington State Emergency Management shared the link above.

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December 05, 2009

While there is a surge going on in the area of security cameras both in and around facilities, there is also a proliferation of cameras just being placed throughout communities. These may be at schools, traffic centers, bus barns, or areas that are considered high drug or other crime areas.

These camera systems if networked can help with the emergency manager's need for situational awareness. There have been success stories like Chicago (6,000 cameras) and then challenges in other communities. With the advent of any new technology there are unforeseen costs that are encountered and also the need to maintain and replace these systems.

American City and County has a good article on some of the systems deployed and the lessons learned in doing so at Getting an Eyeful

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