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December 2010 Archives
December 01, 2010

Earlier I did a blog posting on the next step in the social media revolution is for people and organizations to develop and use smart phone applications for emergency management.


There is now a LinkedIn discussion on that very topic with folks sharing apps that they know about.


Matthew Ricci shared the link!

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December 01, 2010

One might think that the type of disaster that impacts a community would not be that significantly different from one another when it comes to mental health.  Both could be devastating to people who have perhaps lost all their possessions and potentially some loved ones.


It turns out from some studies that have been done that a man-made event can be harder on a community's mental health status.  This was covered in an NPR story today BP Spill Psychological Scars Similar To Exxon Valdez that looked at the suicide rates in the Gulf Oil Spill areas. 


Emergency managers typically live in the communities and regions they serve.  The response may be over, the FEMA financial recovery process may drag on, but we need to remember the mental impacts that a disaster has can also linger.  Yes, even impacting our own mental health.

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December 01, 2010

ESRI the GIS mapping company has an opening for a Public Safety Technical Specialist


I was struck by the fact that this is a private sector job that has many elements that we would look for in any public sector position.  This is a technical job that requires specific computer knowledge, but also the soft skills like working as part of a team.


Jeff Baranyi shared this job opening.

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December 01, 2010

Perhaps you are reading the news reports on Wikileaks and the revelations that are coming out from classified State Department cables being shared with the world.  It does provide some interesting reading for us common folks.


As someone who had a Top Secret Special Background Investigation (SBI) clearance when I was in the Army I find it difficult to understand how such a wide array of information could be released.  It dumbfounds me!


All of the above got me thinking about the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that exists at the Federal level and in many states and local jurisdictions.  You need to remember that today if you write something in an email, text message or other means (social media?) as a government official it is discoverable.  Which means it can be asked for and shared with the world.  This isn't the classified cable type of material being debated today with Wikileaks, but still it could be a very embarrassing situation to have what you wrote about someone or some organization plastered on the front page of a newspaper or website. 


Governments have sometimes tried to protect information from discovery, but I think those days are numbered as transparency in government work takes hold.

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December 02, 2010

Betty Lochner is a a friend who does consulting on the side like I do.  However, her expertise is in helping people communicate better.  She has a blog post Test Your Listening Skills that is a good one to check to see how you are doing personally on the topic of listening.  I've always said that there are plenty of speech classes in high schools and colleges, but I have yet to see a course on listening.  In someways we are missing the boat on communications.  Before you can communicate well you must first understand your audience.  To do that listening is the most important skill of all.


Learning to be a better listener is something I've been working at for years.  I really had some bad habits some years back.  My worst was multi-tasking while I listened to people--or I guess, pretended to listen to people.  Today I fixed that bad habit by finishing the task I am on, then putting everything down and giving my full attention into listening to the person who has typically popped into my office to give me information or ask me a question.


Another listening trait I have a tough time with is not finishing someone's sentences.  They are searching for a word and I become their dictionary, suggesting words.  But, I'm getting better.


Do take the listening test at the link above and see how you are doing on listening.  I can tell you that I'm still having trouble with number 12. "I listen even if the other person is a moron."  Hmm that is a tough one!

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December 03, 2010

Selecting which technology to use, investing money and time into the effort and then not seeing a benefit or having it fail to function is a significant concern for emergency managers.  When I've done consulting for technology firms looking to field a product into the emergency management market I've identified the above as a fear that emergency managers have. 


We've been fortunate to have homeland security funding for much of our technology gains, but you can't buy something today and then need to replace it in a couple of years.  That just won't work!


Which gets us to the issue of Transportation Worker Identification Card (TWIC) readers.  TWIC cards are mandated for transportation workers in the maritime industry.  Anyone entering a restricted area on a port must now have a TWIC card.  This means longshore workers, port employees, truck drivers, etc.  The TWIC cards themselves have a biometric capability.  TWIC readers will provide the capability to read the biometrics on the cards.  The nation is finally getting close to have a standard in place for how TWIC readers will function and interface with the database of people authorized to enter a facility.  It has been a long and arduous process to get to this point--and we are not quite there yet!


The challenge now is selecting which TWIC reader to purchase and use.  Imagine if you will the maritime environment; outdoor, salt air, greasy fingers, heavy equipment, "unhappy" people not gaining access.  You will want to have a TWIC reader that functions well over time and can withstand some abuse.


I came across a White Paper, TWIC Compliance: The 8 Criteria You Need to Consider Before Purchasing a Biometric Reader  While this comes from one vendor, it provides some good information and background on the types of things you should be considering in a TWIC reader before you purchase one or more of the devices. 


All of the above reminds me of a fire chief who once told me, "You put a firefighter in a concrete room with two steel balls.  Come back in an hour and they will have broken one and lost the other one."


Good luck--and don't make a mistake and buy the wrong reader!

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December 03, 2010

One of the great things about technology today is that you can personalize the information that you want to receive 24/7.  This is now true with earthquake alerts.


Check out the Earthquake Notification Service (ENS) that is run by USGS.  There you can sign-up to get alerts sent to you.  You can specify the area, magnitude and how you want to get the information, even texting to your phone.


Bill Steele shared this link.

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December 04, 2010

I know that some emergency managers "don't want any help" from average citizens.  They are perceived as just "getting in the way" when you need to be working on other things.


Since we don't have all the technology support that we need I think the movement (I'll call it) of Random Hacks of Kindness is one example of what we can tap into if we open the door and let people come in and assist us in ways that we perhaps can't even envision.  Even more importantly, is there a way to dialog with them so that their efforts can be of even more assistance.


Today I was torn by the fact that there is an event in Seattle that I could attend.  Home ownership, my volunteer work at church, Christmas decorations blogging, and a dry day in the Pacific Northwest is keeping me otherwise occupied.


I look forward to someone sharing what came out of today's sessions!

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December 05, 2010

When you look at the challenge of securing the rail infrastructure of the United States you can quickly become disheartened by the size of the issue and limited resources that are available.

Emergency Management Magazine had an article in its current edition, Safeguarding the Rails: Four Avenues for Increasing Security  I found several points within the article that sum up some of the issues that go beyond railroad security.

  • One is the fact that the railroads are systems of systems.  Trains operate with equipment from various sources, they travel on rails that don't belong to who is "paying the freight," and they cross scores if not hundreds of jurisdictions as trains travel from the West Coast to the Midwest or elsewhere.
  • For commuter rail, "You have to balance these things [security] with what the customer is willing to put up with."  Security, speed and mass transit are elements that don't mix well.  As we've seen with the full body scanners there is a limit to what the public will endure, absent a recent attack.
  • "Security versus accessibility: Invariably it's going to be a compromise between the two."
  • Getting riders and the general population to be part of the solution is key.  They did not mention trying to leverage social media to help with the effort.

My own personal experience with railroads runs deep since my father was a railroad engineer for the Illinois Central.  The item about the operator cabs being totally open for anyone to access is very true.  One of the larger issues I found with trying to work with railroads is that they don't have many "local" staff for coordinating with emergency managers in cities, counties and states.  They have centralized their operations at corporate headquarters and it is very difficult to have anyone attend a meeting.


Back when I was with King County we did a terrorist exercise with a regional flavor and mass transit was the target(s).  It was a multiple attack on a commuter rail train and then a transit bus in another jurisdiction.  Coordinating between the two events, wondering if there would be a third or fourth attack kept everyone busy.  How do you search every bus?


Tis the holiday season so there is at least one disaster film currently showing.  Unstoppable has a definite train theme to it.  I noted that they say the train is half a mile long.  That is nothing today.  Many are over a mile long and 8,000 foot long trains will be common soon.

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December 05, 2010

One of the allied fields to emergency management that has expanded in a huge way following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 is security.  While there has always been some security in place, it has expanded significantly over the years.  Corporate security being one of the largest areas for that expansion.


See job announcement below for a job associated with Microsoft security.  Note that there are extensive KSAs associated with this position.

Securitas Security Services USA, Inc.
Microsoft Account
Job Description
Position: Global Security Operations Center (GSOC) Manager - Microsoft Account
Reports To: Regional Security Advisor - Puget Sound
Location: Redmond, WA
FLSA: Exempt
Salary Range: DOE
JOB SUMMARY: The GSOC Manager role is high end middle management with high visibility and direct responsibility for the effective operations of Microsoft's Global Security Operations Center (GSOC) in Redmond, WA. The role requires a leader proficient in operational, team and project management. The GSOC provides emergency and non-emergency security system monitoring, call taking, event dispatching, and event driven notification services globally 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The GSOC Manager is responsible for driving process refinement & implementation, project management, cross-team/discipline collaboration, maintenance of internal & external stakeholder relationships, and directly supervises the Operations Center Shift Managers (OCSMs).

The functions listed describe the business purpose of this job. Specific duties or tasks may vary and be documented separately. The employee might not be required to perform all functions listed. Additional duties may be assigned, and functions may be modified, according to business necessity. All assigned duties or tasks are deemed to be part of the essential functions, unless such duties or tasks are unrelated to the functions listed, in which case they are deemed to be other (non-essential) functions.
• Mitigates/overcomes obstacles and sees them as/turns them in to opportunities to improve
• Identifies and recommends solutions to interoperability deficiencies; employs solution based thinking
• Accepts ownership of all team failures/dropped balls equally with successes/home runs
• Exhibits ultimate professionalism & self-control to avoid overpromising & under-delivering
• Ability to prioritize asks & workload based on urgency/importance, delegate tasks, & communicate status
• Ability to envision and set achievable goals along with milestones, deliverables, and a winning/losing scorecard
• Communicates with other GSOCs on new processes & revises current processes ensuring enterprise compatibility
• Develops project management plans for new processes & applications to be implemented within the GSOC
• Works closely with the training department to achieve the highest levels of team operational readiness
• Provides supervision and leadership to assigned staff to include 1:1 mentoring/coaching
• Directs oversight of all local and remote monitoring of Microsoft sites within the GSOC's scope
• Maintains operational integrity and control in GSOC
• Continuously improves operational controls, mitigates threats to client business operations and ensures a consistent and superior client experience
• Drives efforts in the GSOC to identify and implement service behaviors that improve the established customer service standards and service levels
• Monitors and adheres to internal operational controls, including legal, corporate, and regulatory procedures to ensure the safety and security of Microsoft assets
• Develops & implements an ongoing refinement of policies and procedures, to include bi-annual reviews
• Processes and reviews/maintains a wide variety of files, logs, reports, and forms
• Selects qualified candidates for open positions
• Identifies and develops high potential employees in order to build operational bench strength and excellence
• Creates and presents annual evaluations, performance development plans, and other HR documents
• Handles & escalates employee complaints and grievances appropriately, fairly, and consistently
• Reports the activities of the team to upper management in an effective, accurate, and timely manner
• Responsible for employee morale and well-being
Additional qualifications may be specified and receive preference, depending upon the nature of the position.
• Must be at least 18 years of age.
• Must have a reliable means of communication (i.e., pager or phone).
• Must have a reliable means of transportation (public or private).
• Must have the legal right to work in the United States.
• Must have the ability to speak, read, and write English.
• Must have a High School Diploma or GED.
• Must be willing to participate in the Company's pre-employment screening process, including drug screen and background investigation.


Bachelor's degree (master's preferred), and 5+ years related experience and/or training in business management, project management, and/or quality, or an equivalent combination of education and experience sufficient to perform the essential functions of the job, as determined by the company.

• Extensive experience in a leadership role in a high risk, high liability, rapidly changing environment centered around the use of technology to ensure compliance, monitor assets, and make rapid notifications via mass communication tools
• Extensive experience managing complex projects centered around training & implementing new technology to end-users in a 24x7x365 environment
• Extensive experience using quality assurance techniques & strategies to monitor team performance & compliance with contractually set Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
• Experience working with Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) certifications & audits, preferably for self-monitoring of life safety and asset protection centric alarms and signals
• Experience compiling data into spreadsheets, pivot tables, etc. to make an effective business presentation
• Command of business acumen to gain compliance/buy-in from stakeholders/partners needed for success
• Command of innovative business processes & best practices to optimize efficiency and ensure team success
• Strong ability to/experience balancing stress & workload to ensure success & continuity of operations
• General understanding of life & asset safety monitoring procedures and/or ability to learn them quickly
• Knowledge of security technology and/or Microsoft proprietary software and emerging industry trends
• Excellent grasp of MS Office Suite & programs to include Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, InfoPath, SharePoint, etc.
• Excellent English oral and written communication skills required for preparing clear, concise and grammatically correct materials/original correspondence and communicating information effectively to others
• Strong leadership skills and professional demeanor
• Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with subordinates, peers and supervisors
• Ability to interact effectively at various social levels and across diverse cultures
• Ability to facilitate progressive change
• Ability to maintain a positive attitude & high motivation level focused on success

COMPETENCIES (as demonstrated through experience, training, and/or testing):

With or without reasonable accommodation, a candidate must have the physical and mental capacity to effectively perform all essential functions described. In addition to other demands, the demands of the job include:

• Must be able to meet and continue to meet any applicable state, county and municipal licensing requirements for Security Officers
• Successful passage of background, reference, psychological, and controlled substance tests, in addition to any mandatory licensing requirements
• Seeing, hearing, speaking, and writing clearly in order to communicate with employees and clients, observe and report incidents, and direct others
• Close vision, distance vision, and ability to adjust focus
• May be exposed to or required to handle sensitive and confidential information
• Must be able to maintain composure in dealing with authorities, executives, clients, staff and the public, occasionally under conditions of urgency and in pressure situations
• Must be flexible with the ability to work evenings and weekends with little notice
• Required ability to handle multiple tasks concurrently
• Frequent sitting, standing and walking, which may be required for long periods of time, and may involve climbing stairs and walking up inclines and on uneven terrain
• Occasional reaching with hands and arms, stooping, kneeling, crouching and crawling
• Frequent lifting and/or moving up to 10 pounds and occasional lifting and/or moving up to 25 pounds
• On occasion may be required to perform stressful and physical activity
• Depending upon assignment may be exposed to inclement weather or be required to work in environments or under conditions that require the use of protective gear and devices and/or awareness of personal safety and safety of others
• Computer usage, keyboarding and operating controls which may include prolonged periods of data entry

Please send your resume to:

Human Resources
Securitas Security Services, Inc.
Microsoft Account
One Microsoft Way Bldg 125/ #1109C
Redmond, WA 98052
Email: mssecjob@microsoft.com



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