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June 2012 Archives
June 01, 2012

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has put together The Role of Business in Disaster Response Report which is an amalgamation of articles by different businesses from a variety of business sectors.  I started reading it this morning, but have a long way to go to finish it.


Instead of this getting buried digitally somewhere I figured it was more important to get the link out to you.  The good news is that "generally" major corporations have figured out that they need programs in place to protect their interests.  The next step is the recognition that they are co-dependent on others and they need to be working with all elements of their supply chain and vendors to be sure that there isn't a weak link that brings them to their knees.  There is also a link to their corporate social responsibility and how they link to their communities of interest and what they can do to help when disasters strike.


The bad news is that small to medium size businesses are still not paying attention to their vulnerabilities.  Their "disaster plan" is that nothing is going to happen to them.  Yikes!  I believe in hope, but not as a disaster plan.


Finally, I see some progress being made in the connections between government and business.  Both sides are recognizing that they need one another and can further their missions by being coordinated and cooperating before, during and after a disaster.  


The title of the report is a bit limiting since it does go way beyond response--it is much deeper.

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June 02, 2012

“Some people and organizations only see the world through a peephole.”  Eric Holdeman  Go to your front door and look out through your peephole, if you have one, and see what your field of view is.  Straight out it is pretty good, but even that might be a bit distorted based on the optics of your peephole. 


What is really limiting is your peripheral vision.  The brain then kicks in and that which you cannot see, you fear.  As long as you are able to go straight ahead it is a comforting movement and existence.  Much of the forward movement is based then on where you have been and what has worked in the past.  I suppose this is why blinkers work for horses.  It they cannot see it, they will not be distracted by it.


In today’s world this will not work due to our interconnectedness with other systems, organizations and processes.  If you are going to innovate you will need to get a wider field of view and a better comprehension of what is going on around you.  Change is happening very quickly and what has worked in the past may not work in the very near future. 


The best view to understand the world would be place yourself in the middle of your community and slowly turn around assessing both your space, and what you “control,” and how you might interact with others around you.  Everything about your environment must be assessed for its potential value.  Every contact you make with someone should be oriented towards how you can help them and how they might at some point help you. 


The above is radically different from standing behind the locked door and keeping people and new ideas out of your life.  You may feel more secure and confident for the moment, but in the end it could be your undoing.  

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June 02, 2012

The Fels Institute of Government is publishing their Social Media Promising Practices, Second Edition later this month, June, 2012.  As they noted it has been three years since their last report on social media use by government--an eternity when it comes to social media.


The next report will be called The Rise of Social Media in Local Government (sounds like something for a sequel Transformer Movie).


Watch for it, and if you don't see me blogging on it and you get the link to the document--send it my way and I'll share it.

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June 02, 2012

I'm always a bit suspect when I come across websites that have a totally revolutionary idea on how to protect people.  I believe in new widgets, but I keep my eyes wide open.


I read about the JOMO Project in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business in Disaster Report (see page 48) that I blogged on earlier this week, so that gives the concept some credibility in my eyes.  Check it out and see what you think of the concept.


Concrete seems like something more substantial, but it will cost more and perhaps not be as adaptable to different situations.  The website isn't the best and the photo gallery would not load for me.  I'd ditch the green print on black--hard to read!


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June 03, 2012

Technology is playing an ever increasing role in the profession of emergency management and that of first responders.  Just check out UMD Scientists Create Faster, More Sensitive Photodetector by Tricking Graphene  


The article is not as complicated as I thought it might be to understand.  Written more in plain English than technobabel it provides a small glimpse into the future of only one small aspect of the research that is being done now that will undoubtedly impact us in the near future.


The old days of acetate and grease pencils are long gone!

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June 03, 2012

2011 was a big year and an early spring of devastating tornadoes.  To see a full report that takes you through April 2012 check out the NOAA website State of the Climate Tornadoes 


If you have ever seen a tornado or the damage that one can do--it is amazing!  I was about 15 when my home town was struck (Illinois) by a tornado.  It did not touch down and wipe out homes, only huge trees toppled and roofs gone.  Still, it was a big mess for a week or so.  


Note:  The 653 number is one I picked up from another article/email.





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June 03, 2012

Kim Stephens, a social media blogger, posted this Social Media in House DHS Appropriations Bill for 2013


The blog post provides some interesting information on how Congress is pushing and funding FEMA to do more with social media.  It makes me wonder if FEMA staff worked with congressional committees to get the language inserted in the funding legislation for the organization.  FEMA is "full on" in pursuing social media and integrating it into their response and recovery processes.  I'd like to see social media used more on the disaster preparedness side with public education campaigns using social media.


Kim alludes to the dollar figure and suggests by the way she ends the blog posting that funding will be coming to states and locals from those accounts.  Maybe she knows something I don't, my guess is that dollar figure is only for the internal agency's use.  


$271,700,000 seems like a lot of money until you have contractors spending it for you.  I could be wrong, but my advice is to look to the Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG) to fund social media rather than some new program.  If it is an allowable cost of course!

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June 05, 2012

The Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) was selected by Canada and the United States to facilitate a bi-national planning process to improve the disaster resiliency in the Pacific Northwest.  The intent is to take this effort to other parts of the nation, starting with the Great Lakes Region.  


The attendees for this event are targeted towards the maritime sector here in the Pacific Northwest, both public and private entities.  This includes everyone involved in maritime transportation.  More information on the event is below.  This is a challenging task that is being undertaken since ports and their terminals generally don't share a great deal of information about their business operations.  Then, doing it cross border adds another dimension to the difficulty of the planning effort.


The Beyond the Border Working Group has proposed the Development of a framework for swiftly managing traffic in the event of an emergency, with the goal being to expedite maritime commerce recovery through regional collaboration between Canada and the United States. Development of the Framework will be guided by a Pilot Project in British Columbia Lower Mainland - United States Pacific Northwest region. Specifically, the Pilot project will leverage region-based, cross-border maritime resilience and recovery committees. The outcomes of this pilot will guide similar work in the Atlantic and Great Lakes regions beginning in 2013.


The objective of the workshop is to enable collaboration at the regional level (US and Canada) to expedite maritime commerce recovery following an emergency, disaster or disruption. This initiative is part of The US-Canada Beyond the Border and Perimeter Security Action Plan to develop information sharing protocols to swiftly recover from any maritime disruption. Your knowledge, insight, ideas and concerns are critical to building the best possible commerce recovery strategy for our region.  


Key questions to be addressed in the workshop:  

  • If port facilities are disabled how will your business cope?  What are the re-routing options?
  • What information do you need from whom before and after a disaster, and how will you get it?
  • Do you know where your business fits into the response and recovery priorities of government and major suppliers?
  • What interdependencies and critical links exist that could impact your operations, the regional economy, and maritime transportation system?
  • How could your business temporarily accept additional cargo if a neighboring port was disabled?
  • What can your business do now, before a disaster, to become more resilient?
  • How resilient are the suppliers and contractors your business depends on?

July 10th | 10:00 am - 3:30 pm, Bell Harbor International Conference Center, Seattle, Washington  


If you are interested in attending I'd recommend you contact Brandon Hardenbrook at brandon.hardenbrook@pnwer.org

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June 07, 2012

Does the estimate that a Mt. Rainier volcanic eruption could cause around $6B in property damage motivate you to act in a different way?  To the best of my knowledge, no!


There is a recent Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) study that provides the data.  I guess it is comforting to know that the dollar number does not include contents--so actual damage costs will likely be higher.  The impact of having this knowledge would appear to be negligible on the people and organizations that have property in the Puyallup Valley.  I say this based on my own personal experience.


My own church is located in the valley and in the path of any lahar that would reach that area.  In one spot where DNR did soil tests they drilled down 150 feet and only found loose sediments indicative of eons of flooding and lahars.  When the church undertook a decision process of "Do we stay where we are or move?" I provided all the data on what the risks are in the region.  Lahars were a big one, another is a brick church resting on soil that will liquefy in an earthquake.  The decision was to stay.


Then there was my own family, son and daughter-in-law, who bought a home in the valley, right next (I mean right next) to a creek.  Flood zone maps did not deter the decision.  It is a beautify property and place to raise two boys.  I love going there--as long as the creek doesn't rise (hasn't flooded there in 80 some years!--where have you heard that story? 


I'm just thinking that we need to work on how we communicate risk and better understand how Americans process that information.  Some institutions can't move from their locations--they are where they are based on their business needs.  For others they could choose to move out of hazardous areas when they need to relocate.  Most don't.  


If more information is not the answer it has to be in how we present it and how it is socialized between individuals.  I'm hopeful that social media might help us do this in the future.  It is unlikely that there is one "magic pill" of information or technique that will work.  I believe we will need to release our creative juices on this problem and then attack it with a vengeance if we ever hope of being successful.


It would be wrong to assume that the people are the problem.  I think they are the solution.  We need to harness people power to do something good for hazard mitigation.

June 08, 2012

Have you noticed that change is everywhere and it is coming faster and faster.  It is like we are used to driving on a two lane country road and we enter a 10 lane Interstate Highway with traffic going 75 miles an hour (90 in Germany).  It is unnerving as people and organizations try to cling to what they know and what has worked for them in the past.


One of the solutions to this increasing risk is information sharing and collaboration.  It is when old enemies decide that for both of their futures it would be better to get along than to be at war with one another.  This type of change in thinking won't come easy.  Generally it takes a crisis to force people to change.


See The Perfect Storm of Risks and How to Weather Them, an article by Bill Raisch.  Our old governmental institutions and complex mix of geopolitical jurisdictions at the state and local levels of government are not tuned for the amount of change that is upon us.  We are struggling to maintain what we have had and expected to have in the future.  


The survivors will be those people and organizations who embrace change and try new things.  Many ideas will end up failing, but one or two will succeed and map a path to the future that others can follow.  


It is an exciting time to be alive if you can get past your fears.

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