Tag Archives: Disaster Relief

Smashwords – 21st Century FEMA Study Course: Disaster Basics (IS-292)

Any EMs have an opinion on this?

21st Century FEMA Study Course: Disaster Basics (IS-292) – FEMA’s Role, Emergency Response Teams (ERTs), Stafford Act, History of Federal Assistance Program

Ebook By Progressive Management

$9.99

Rating:
Not yet rated.

Published: July 18, 2011

Category: Non-Fiction » Politics and Current Affairs » Current affairs

Words: 27295 (approximate)

Language: English

Ebook Short Description

This Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) independent training course manual from the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) introduces the student to the basics of disaster assistance and the role of FEMA.

Smashwords – 21st Century FEMA Study Course: Disaster Basics (IS-292)

Any EMs have an opinion on this?

21st Century FEMA Study Course: Disaster Basics (IS-292) – FEMA’s Role, Emergency Response Teams (ERTs), Stafford Act, History of Federal Assistance Program

Ebook By Progressive Management

$9.99

Rating:
Not yet rated.

Published: July 18, 2011

Category: Non-Fiction » Politics and Current Affairs » Current affairs

Words: 27295 (approximate)

Language: English

Ebook Short Description

This Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) independent training course manual from the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) introduces the student to the basics of disaster assistance and the role of FEMA.

What mobile apps are essential for collaboration on the go? #SMEM

With a growing proportion of the workforce already being highly mobile, coupled with an increasing number of workers are expecting to bring their own devices to work, it’s clear that picking the right collaboration apps to keep workers productive while on the go is vital to business success. But what apps do mobile workers need to get their jobs done? A new Forrester report, Mobilize Your Collaboration Strategy, has identified eight “must have” categories of mobile collaboration apps. Here’s a run-down of all the categories outlined, together with some of GigaOM’s recommendations for apps to use in each category:

Email and calendars. Email is, unsurprisingly,  still the most important mobile app. According to Forrester, 87 percent of smartphone workers use email on their devices (which leaves me wondering what other 13 percent use their smartphones for), and collectively, they do 32 percent of their email on a smartphone. While most smartphones come with their own email and calendaring tools most users will use, there are some third-party options worth considering:

  • Gmail and Google Calendar. If you use Gmail, it’s worth noting that the mobile-optimized versions of the Gmail and Google Calendar sites are pretty good. They are fast and have a great UI, and one of the advantages of using them is that you can seamlessly switch from device to device without having to set up IMAP details in your various devices’ email clients.
  • Touchdown. Brings superb Microsoft Exchange support to Android devices.

Document-based collaboration. Mobile workers need to be able to access their documents while out of the office on any of their devices. Cloud-based document collaboration tools need to include mobile access to be truly effective.

  • Documents to Go. Dataviz’s Documents to Go is a popular mobile document editing app. It’s available for a variety of platforms, including iOS, BlackBerry, Android and Palm. When combined with a cloud file sync service like Dropbox or box.net, it enables users to access and edit their documents no matter where they are.
  • Soonr. Soonr is a cloud-based document sync service. However, it also offers integrated MS Office document editing capabilities , which means users don’t need to use a separate app like Documents to Go.

Web conferencing. According to Forrester, 18 percent of information workers and 34 percent of senior staff use web conferencing at least weekly. Mobile access means being able to attend meetings even while away from the laptop.

Activity streams. Forrester thinks activity streams are becoming a critical resource for organizations that work collectively: sales teams, project teams, and executive staff, for example. Mobile support is crucial as it enables workers to stay updated no matter where they are.

Presence and chat. Knowing whether a colleague is available or not is a killer feature when out of the office. While this category of app lags today, Forrester expects adoption to accelerate. These types of features are often also often included in other mobile collaboration tools.

Social collaboration. In this category, Forrester includes access to internal blogs, wikis, community sites, and social networks from a tablet or smartphone. Mobile access allows every professional will remain connected and part of the collaborative process.

Expertise location. Forrester says this type of application is on the rise as firms look for ways to make mobile employees productive by helping them identify experts from anywhere. This type of app brings together presence, notifications, social profiles and data from HR. Many social business tools provide this kind of functionality, including:

Video conferencing. Skype has some 170 million active monthly users, and 39 percent of those people use Skype for work. Web conferencing vendors are also adding video to their products. Due to heavy resource requirements, there are few multi-party mobile video conferencing apps, though.

Personally, I’m not convinced expertise location is really a “must-have” category of mobile collaboration app just yet. Do you agree with Forrester’s categories of “must-have” apps, and which apps do you recommend for each category?

Photo courtesy Flickr user Yagan Kiely

Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.

What mobile apps are essential for collaboration on the go? #SMEM

With a growing proportion of the workforce already being highly mobile, coupled with an increasing number of workers are expecting to bring their own devices to work, it’s clear that picking the right collaboration apps to keep workers productive while on the go is vital to business success. But what apps do mobile workers need to get their jobs done? A new Forrester report, Mobilize Your Collaboration Strategy, has identified eight “must have” categories of mobile collaboration apps. Here’s a run-down of all the categories outlined, together with some of GigaOM’s recommendations for apps to use in each category:

Email and calendars. Email is, unsurprisingly,  still the most important mobile app. According to Forrester, 87 percent of smartphone workers use email on their devices (which leaves me wondering what other 13 percent use their smartphones for), and collectively, they do 32 percent of their email on a smartphone. While most smartphones come with their own email and calendaring tools most users will use, there are some third-party options worth considering:

  • Gmail and Google Calendar. If you use Gmail, it’s worth noting that the mobile-optimized versions of the Gmail and Google Calendar sites are pretty good. They are fast and have a great UI, and one of the advantages of using them is that you can seamlessly switch from device to device without having to set up IMAP details in your various devices’ email clients.
  • Touchdown. Brings superb Microsoft Exchange support to Android devices.

Document-based collaboration. Mobile workers need to be able to access their documents while out of the office on any of their devices. Cloud-based document collaboration tools need to include mobile access to be truly effective.

  • Documents to Go. Dataviz’s Documents to Go is a popular mobile document editing app. It’s available for a variety of platforms, including iOS, BlackBerry, Android and Palm. When combined with a cloud file sync service like Dropbox or box.net, it enables users to access and edit their documents no matter where they are.
  • Soonr. Soonr is a cloud-based document sync service. However, it also offers integrated MS Office document editing capabilities , which means users don’t need to use a separate app like Documents to Go.

Web conferencing. According to Forrester, 18 percent of information workers and 34 percent of senior staff use web conferencing at least weekly. Mobile access means being able to attend meetings even while away from the laptop.

Activity streams. Forrester thinks activity streams are becoming a critical resource for organizations that work collectively: sales teams, project teams, and executive staff, for example. Mobile support is crucial as it enables workers to stay updated no matter where they are.

Presence and chat. Knowing whether a colleague is available or not is a killer feature when out of the office. While this category of app lags today, Forrester expects adoption to accelerate. These types of features are often also often included in other mobile collaboration tools.

Social collaboration. In this category, Forrester includes access to internal blogs, wikis, community sites, and social networks from a tablet or smartphone. Mobile access allows every professional will remain connected and part of the collaborative process.

Expertise location. Forrester says this type of application is on the rise as firms look for ways to make mobile employees productive by helping them identify experts from anywhere. This type of app brings together presence, notifications, social profiles and data from HR. Many social business tools provide this kind of functionality, including:

Video conferencing. Skype has some 170 million active monthly users, and 39 percent of those people use Skype for work. Web conferencing vendors are also adding video to their products. Due to heavy resource requirements, there are few multi-party mobile video conferencing apps, though.

Personally, I’m not convinced expertise location is really a “must-have” category of mobile collaboration app just yet. Do you agree with Forrester’s categories of “must-have” apps, and which apps do you recommend for each category?

Photo courtesy Flickr user Yagan Kiely

Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.

Google+ for Crowdsourcing Crisis Information, Crisis Mapping and Disaster Response (HT @peakwx)

Facebook is increasingly used to crowdsource crisis information and response, as is Twitter. So is it just a matter of time until we see similar use cases with Google+? Another question I have is whether such uses cases will simply reflect more of the same or whether we’ll see new, unexpected applications and dynamics? Of course, it may be premature to entertain the role that Google+ might play in disaster response just days after it’s private beta launch, but the company seems fully committed to making  this new venture succeed. Entertain-ing how Google+ (G+) might be used as a humanitarian technology thus seems worthwhile.

The fact that G+ is open and searchable is probably one of the starkest differences with the walled-garden that is Facebook; that, and their Data Liberation policy. This will make activity on G+ relatively easier to find—Google is the King of Search, after all. This openness will render serendipity and synergies more likely.

The much talked about “Circles” feature is also very appealing for the kind of organic and collaborative crowdsourcing work that we see emerging following a crisis. Think about these “Circles” not only as networks but also as “honeycombs” for “flash” projects—i.e., short-term and temporary—very much along the lines that Skype is used for live collaborative crisis mapping operations.

Google+’s new Hangout feature could also be used instead of Skype chat and video, with the advantage of having multi-person video-conferencing. With a little more work, the Sparks feature could facilitate media monitoring—an important component of live crisis mapping. And then there’s Google+ mobile, which is accessible on most phones with a browser and already includes a “check-in” feature as well as geo-referenced status updates. The native app for the Android is already available and the iPhone app is coming soon.

Clicking on my status update above, produces the Google Maps page below. What’s particularly telling about this is how “underwhelming” the use of Google Maps currently is within G+.  There’s no doubt this will change dramatically as G+ evolves. The Google+ team has noted that they already have dozens of new features ready to be rolled out in the coming months. So expect G+ to make full use of Google’s formidable presence on the Geo Web—think MapMaker+ and Earth Engine+. This could be a big plus for live crowdsourced crisis mapping, especially of the multimedia kind.

One stark difference with Facebook’s status updates and check-in’s is that G+ allows you to decide which Circles (or networks of contacts) to share your updates and check-in’s with. This is an important difference that could allow for more efficient information sharing in near real-time. You could set up your Circles as different teams, perhaps even along UN Cluster lines.

As the G+ mobile website reveals, the team will also be integrating SMS, which is definitely key for crisis response. I imagine there will also be a way to connect your Twitter feed with Google+ in the near future. This will make G+ even more compelling as a mobile humanitarian technology platform. In addition, I expect there are also plans to integrate Google News, Google Reader, Google Groups, Google Docs and Google Translate with G+. GMail, YouTube and Picasa are already integrated.

One feature that will be important for humanitarian applications is offline functionality. Google Reader and GMail already have this feature (Google Gears), which I imagine could be added to G+’s Stream and perhaps eventually with Google Maps? In addition, if Google can provide customizable uses of G+, then this could also make the new platform more compelling for humanitarian organizations, e.g., if OCHA could have their own G+ (“iG+”) by customizing and branding their G+ interface; much like the flexibility afforded by the Ning platform. One first step in that direction might be to offer a range of “themes” for G+, just like Google does with GMail.

Finally, the ability to develop third party apps for G+ could be a big win. Think of a G+ store (in contrast to an App Store). I’d love to see a G+ app for Ushahidi and OSM, for example.

If successful, G+ could be the best example of “What Technology Wants” to date. G+ is convergence technology par excellence. It is a hub that connects many of Google’s excellent products and from the looks of it, the G+ team is just getting warmed up with the converging.

I’d love to hear from others who are also brainstorming about possible applications of Google+ in the humanitarian space. Am I off on any of the ideas above? What am I missing? Maybe we could set up a Google+ 4 Disaster Response Circle and get on Hangout to brainstorm together?

Google+ for Crowdsourcing Crisis Information, Crisis Mapping and Disaster Response (HT @peakwx)

Facebook is increasingly used to crowdsource crisis information and response, as is Twitter. So is it just a matter of time until we see similar use cases with Google+? Another question I have is whether such uses cases will simply reflect more of the same or whether we’ll see new, unexpected applications and dynamics? Of course, it may be premature to entertain the role that Google+ might play in disaster response just days after it’s private beta launch, but the company seems fully committed to making  this new venture succeed. Entertain-ing how Google+ (G+) might be used as a humanitarian technology thus seems worthwhile.

The fact that G+ is open and searchable is probably one of the starkest differences with the walled-garden that is Facebook; that, and their Data Liberation policy. This will make activity on G+ relatively easier to find—Google is the King of Search, after all. This openness will render serendipity and synergies more likely.

The much talked about “Circles” feature is also very appealing for the kind of organic and collaborative crowdsourcing work that we see emerging following a crisis. Think about these “Circles” not only as networks but also as “honeycombs” for “flash” projects—i.e., short-term and temporary—very much along the lines that Skype is used for live collaborative crisis mapping operations.

Google+’s new Hangout feature could also be used instead of Skype chat and video, with the advantage of having multi-person video-conferencing. With a little more work, the Sparks feature could facilitate media monitoring—an important component of live crisis mapping. And then there’s Google+ mobile, which is accessible on most phones with a browser and already includes a “check-in” feature as well as geo-referenced status updates. The native app for the Android is already available and the iPhone app is coming soon.

Clicking on my status update above, produces the Google Maps page below. What’s particularly telling about this is how “underwhelming” the use of Google Maps currently is within G+.  There’s no doubt this will change dramatically as G+ evolves. The Google+ team has noted that they already have dozens of new features ready to be rolled out in the coming months. So expect G+ to make full use of Google’s formidable presence on the Geo Web—think MapMaker+ and Earth Engine+. This could be a big plus for live crowdsourced crisis mapping, especially of the multimedia kind.

One stark difference with Facebook’s status updates and check-in’s is that G+ allows you to decide which Circles (or networks of contacts) to share your updates and check-in’s with. This is an important difference that could allow for more efficient information sharing in near real-time. You could set up your Circles as different teams, perhaps even along UN Cluster lines.

As the G+ mobile website reveals, the team will also be integrating SMS, which is definitely key for crisis response. I imagine there will also be a way to connect your Twitter feed with Google+ in the near future. This will make G+ even more compelling as a mobile humanitarian technology platform. In addition, I expect there are also plans to integrate Google News, Google Reader, Google Groups, Google Docs and Google Translate with G+. GMail, YouTube and Picasa are already integrated.

One feature that will be important for humanitarian applications is offline functionality. Google Reader and GMail already have this feature (Google Gears), which I imagine could be added to G+’s Stream and perhaps eventually with Google Maps? In addition, if Google can provide customizable uses of G+, then this could also make the new platform more compelling for humanitarian organizations, e.g., if OCHA could have their own G+ (“iG+”) by customizing and branding their G+ interface; much like the flexibility afforded by the Ning platform. One first step in that direction might be to offer a range of “themes” for G+, just like Google does with GMail.

Finally, the ability to develop third party apps for G+ could be a big win. Think of a G+ store (in contrast to an App Store). I’d love to see a G+ app for Ushahidi and OSM, for example.

If successful, G+ could be the best example of “What Technology Wants” to date. G+ is convergence technology par excellence. It is a hub that connects many of Google’s excellent products and from the looks of it, the G+ team is just getting warmed up with the converging.

I’d love to hear from others who are also brainstorming about possible applications of Google+ in the humanitarian space. Am I off on any of the ideas above? What am I missing? Maybe we could set up a Google+ 4 Disaster Response Circle and get on Hangout to brainstorm together?

In Fukushima, Sunflowers Sow Hope For A Radioactive-Free Future | Fast Company

sunflowers

A young Japanese entrepreneur is trying to convince people to sow sunflower seeds in Fukushima Prefecture, intending the plants to cleanse the soil of radioactive contamination. Project leader Shinji Handa has sold some 10,000 packets of sunflower seeds at 500 yen ($6) to people throughout Japan, ostensibly to produce seeds that will be sent to Fukushima to create a sunflower maze.

Given the scope of the Fukushima disaster, planting sunflowers may seem quixotic at best, but the principle behind it is sound. Many plants have evolved mechanisms to adapt to high levels of toxins and even radiation, taking up heavy metals and radioactive isotopes and sequestering them in disposable parts like stems and leaves. Scientists last year reported on several varieties of domestic plants, including sunflowers, that are thriving around Chernobyl, gradually reducing contamination levels in the soil.

Green plants evolved in periods of Earth’s history when radiation levels were higher than they are in our own era. And plants, of course, can’t simply move to get away from toxic environments–thus, adaptations for taking up and getting rid of poisonous and even radioactive substances are fairly widespread throughout the plant kingdom. In recent years a variety of domestic crops such as amaranth, pennycress, and wheat have been used to remove toxic and radioactive chemicals from soils around the world at a fraction of the cost of physical removal, a process called phytoremediation.

But the Fukushima sunflower project glosses over the complexity of the process: Those plants are still heavily radioactive. The contaminated plant matter must be harvested, reduced, and disposed of carefully to prevent further contamination, which makes it an unlikely component of any crowdsourced approach to radiation cleanup–rendering Handa’s notion of sunflower mazes fanciful if not downright dangerous.

Given the scope of contamination at Fukushima, however, more formal and systematic phytoremediation projects could play a major role in making the region safe again. And Handa’s intuition about about the symbolic power of sunflowers feels right; few sights inspire a sense of confidence and renewal like fields of bright blooms nodding in the sun.

[Image: Flickr user peter fee fee jjc]

Follow @fastcompany.

In Fukushima, Sunflowers Sow Hope For A Radioactive-Free Future | Fast Company

sunflowers

A young Japanese entrepreneur is trying to convince people to sow sunflower seeds in Fukushima Prefecture, intending the plants to cleanse the soil of radioactive contamination. Project leader Shinji Handa has sold some 10,000 packets of sunflower seeds at 500 yen ($6) to people throughout Japan, ostensibly to produce seeds that will be sent to Fukushima to create a sunflower maze.

Given the scope of the Fukushima disaster, planting sunflowers may seem quixotic at best, but the principle behind it is sound. Many plants have evolved mechanisms to adapt to high levels of toxins and even radiation, taking up heavy metals and radioactive isotopes and sequestering them in disposable parts like stems and leaves. Scientists last year reported on several varieties of domestic plants, including sunflowers, that are thriving around Chernobyl, gradually reducing contamination levels in the soil.

Green plants evolved in periods of Earth’s history when radiation levels were higher than they are in our own era. And plants, of course, can’t simply move to get away from toxic environments–thus, adaptations for taking up and getting rid of poisonous and even radioactive substances are fairly widespread throughout the plant kingdom. In recent years a variety of domestic crops such as amaranth, pennycress, and wheat have been used to remove toxic and radioactive chemicals from soils around the world at a fraction of the cost of physical removal, a process called phytoremediation.

But the Fukushima sunflower project glosses over the complexity of the process: Those plants are still heavily radioactive. The contaminated plant matter must be harvested, reduced, and disposed of carefully to prevent further contamination, which makes it an unlikely component of any crowdsourced approach to radiation cleanup–rendering Handa’s notion of sunflower mazes fanciful if not downright dangerous.

Given the scope of contamination at Fukushima, however, more formal and systematic phytoremediation projects could play a major role in making the region safe again. And Handa’s intuition about about the symbolic power of sunflowers feels right; few sights inspire a sense of confidence and renewal like fields of bright blooms nodding in the sun.

[Image: Flickr user peter fee fee jjc]

Follow @fastcompany.

The Self-Sustaining, Solar-Powered Emergency Shelter: We’re Going to Need It

daiwa edv-01

At next month’s Little Tokyo Design Week, the Japanese company Daiwa House will be showing off the EDV-01, a self-sustaining, solar-powered emergency structure. It’s a temporary structure, much like a FEMA trailer, that’s meant to house emergency workers as they deal with hurricanes, fires, tsunamis, earthquakes, and their aftermath.

But the EDV-01 promises to do so much more than a regular trailer. The prototype’s hydraulic legs adjust automatically to uneven terrain, leveling out the structure. It draws its power from solar panels and also collects and condenses water to provide basic utilities to the structure. There’s a bathroom, a kitchen, and storage space. The second floor, which comes collapsed around the main structure for easier transport, has two bunks and a desk. The shelter is designed to be trucked into disaster areas, but once it’s set up, it can function for a month with no additional inputs. It looks like the type of emergency structure that, dirty and dented, ends up as the home base of one of the last remaining members of the humanity in a post-apocalyptic movie.

Daiwa intends to develop this trailer into a commercial product that would be available to lease for governments in need; the company says it wants to get manufacturing costs down and have a better sense of what customer interest would be before it starts churning them out. The company will likely find customers: A 2009 report by the International Organization for Migration found that extreme weather events displaced 20 million people in 2009. (In comparison, conflict and violence created 4.6 million internal refugees.) As climate change scares up more frequent and more intense disasters, emergency workers and evacuees are going to need futuristic tools like this one to help them respond.

Daiwa’s business began as a supplier for construction sites, and it’s an industry leader in temporary housing. Emergency response trailers make sense as a business endeavor. But across the economy, more businesses are looking to profit from opportunities the changing climate will create. A new report underwritten by the United Nations, World Resources Institute, and Oxfam found that among the businesses connected to the U.N.’s Caring for Climate initiative, 86 percent saw a business opportunity in “responding to climate change risks or investing in adaptation solutions.”

Those businesses are a self-selected group, but it’s encouraging that at least some fraction of the private sector is looking to create innovative solutions to the problems climate change will cause, rather than denying they exist. The strategies that they’re sharing right now tend towards the general—a global beverage company, for instance, recognizes that water shortages will hurt its business and wants to prepare for that eventuality. An electricity company uses climate impact modeling to imagine how climate change could affect its business. Those responses aren’t as tangible as a solar-powered emergency structure, but they’re connected to the same reality: Climate change is coming, and we’re going have to respond to it, one way or the other.

Picture via Inhabitat

The Self-Sustaining, Solar-Powered Emergency Shelter: We’re Going to Need It

daiwa edv-01

At next month’s Little Tokyo Design Week, the Japanese company Daiwa House will be showing off the EDV-01, a self-sustaining, solar-powered emergency structure. It’s a temporary structure, much like a FEMA trailer, that’s meant to house emergency workers as they deal with hurricanes, fires, tsunamis, earthquakes, and their aftermath.

But the EDV-01 promises to do so much more than a regular trailer. The prototype’s hydraulic legs adjust automatically to uneven terrain, leveling out the structure. It draws its power from solar panels and also collects and condenses water to provide basic utilities to the structure. There’s a bathroom, a kitchen, and storage space. The second floor, which comes collapsed around the main structure for easier transport, has two bunks and a desk. The shelter is designed to be trucked into disaster areas, but once it’s set up, it can function for a month with no additional inputs. It looks like the type of emergency structure that, dirty and dented, ends up as the home base of one of the last remaining members of the humanity in a post-apocalyptic movie.

Daiwa intends to develop this trailer into a commercial product that would be available to lease for governments in need; the company says it wants to get manufacturing costs down and have a better sense of what customer interest would be before it starts churning them out. The company will likely find customers: A 2009 report by the International Organization for Migration found that extreme weather events displaced 20 million people in 2009. (In comparison, conflict and violence created 4.6 million internal refugees.) As climate change scares up more frequent and more intense disasters, emergency workers and evacuees are going to need futuristic tools like this one to help them respond.

Daiwa’s business began as a supplier for construction sites, and it’s an industry leader in temporary housing. Emergency response trailers make sense as a business endeavor. But across the economy, more businesses are looking to profit from opportunities the changing climate will create. A new report underwritten by the United Nations, World Resources Institute, and Oxfam found that among the businesses connected to the U.N.’s Caring for Climate initiative, 86 percent saw a business opportunity in “responding to climate change risks or investing in adaptation solutions.”

Those businesses are a self-selected group, but it’s encouraging that at least some fraction of the private sector is looking to create innovative solutions to the problems climate change will cause, rather than denying they exist. The strategies that they’re sharing right now tend towards the general—a global beverage company, for instance, recognizes that water shortages will hurt its business and wants to prepare for that eventuality. An electricity company uses climate impact modeling to imagine how climate change could affect its business. Those responses aren’t as tangible as a solar-powered emergency structure, but they’re connected to the same reality: Climate change is coming, and we’re going have to respond to it, one way or the other.

Picture via Inhabitat