Thursday, April 24, 2014

NYPD's Twitter Debacle

In the Lessons Learned category, the New York Police Department (NYPD) is dealing with a social media disaster after a well intentioned plan to use Twitter to portray the Department in a good light turned into something altogether different.  After #myNYPD was offered on Tuesday as a way for citizens to provide feel-good photos of the NYPD, less than flattering photos soon filled the hashtag and the Department has been in damage control ever since. From the flood of articles across the nation, a select few below: 

(Washington Post, April 23, 2014)

(NBC News, April 23, 2014)

Comment: This one is really tough, unfortunate, and without a clear way forward as long as the structure of Twitter gives everyone - brilliant and not so - a level playing field to speak to the world. However, one would hope that at least in a disaster the dynamics would change and Twitter would be available as a backup two-way form of communication with the Emergency Services Sector (ESS). But again, unfortunately, if the Atlanta Police Department's experience during the January 2014 snow storm is any example, the reality is "marginal" at best. So to my simple way of thinking - two Lessons Learned:
1.) Twitter is a great way to broadcast a message. Beyond that, the ESS will have to take its chances with everyone else when inviting participation. The potential downside is significant.
2.) Being a "we've got more laws than we need" kind of guy, this one is hard to suggest. But, just like there are laws against using the current standard of communication to report an emergency - a telephone call to 9-1-1, it will probably take the same and a whole bunch of public outreach before Twitter will be workable for effectively communicating with response organizations. A point probably made moot by the impending activation of Text-to-911.

Photo Credit: NYPD 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

FirstNet Update

It's been a while since we last checked in on FirstNet (First Responder Network Authority), the $7.0 billion Federal effort to give the Emergency Services Sector a dedicated nationwide interoperable broadband network. Thankfully, Government Technology recently published an article that does a solid job of updating situation. Details below:

(Government Technology, April 17, 2014)

Comment: Don't miss the interactive map and related information available using the right inset mid-way down the article. It shows what happened to $400 million in related pilot program grants - a head scratcher that has left me revisiting Sheriff Fitzgerald's comments from last spring. You can read about Charlotte's rejection here, and the Bay Area Regional Interoperable Communications Systems Authority (BayRICS) rejection here.

Graphic credit: FirstNet

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Facebook Joins the Tracking Debate

In case you've been longing for the day when Facebook could track your location and that of your Friends (whether on or off), I've got some great news. Your wish just came true! Details below:

(Digits, April 17, 2014)

Comment: I'll take a pass on this one - and keep my privacy.

Graphic credit: Facebook

Monday, April 21, 2014

NSGIC Midyear Report Highlights Federal Geospatial Failures

You're in a bad spot when the normally low-key National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) examines four areas of geospatial enterprise and then opines that Federal efforts are sorely lacking. Unfortunately, all four topics considered have an Emergency Services Sector (ESS) component to them, with the fourth point of examination devoted entirely to the subject. Read for yourself:

(NSGIC, April 1, 2014)

Comment: First off, massive kudos to NSGIC for this bold, thoughtful consideration of the issues.  Second, I'll cut to the chase with what the report says to me. With regard to the ESS - DHS, FEMAUSGS and the rest of the Federal Interagency - your geospatial programs are by and large a mess and aren't aligned with the needs of the nation. Beltway bandit contractors selling the latest and greatest top-down military-mind-set collection schemes have completely derailed the reality of working inside the borders of the United States. Instead of collection (e.g. fusion centers, et al.) - it's going to require funding and focus on grass roots COLLABORATION if you are going to put the train back on the tracks! A point I've been harping on for years:

(GITA, May 1, 2010)

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Globe of Miracles: The Ultimate Easter Egg

Well, since it’s Easter weekend, what do you say we do something entirely different? Instead of reflecting on events that didn’t turn out so hot, let’s do it the other way around. Let’s give consideration to some random miracles – and you get an Easter egg hunt to boot.  So before clicking a link below, see if you can figure out what Emergency Services Sector related miracle happened at the respective place numbered above. (Please note, in an effort to spread around the “eggs”, U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue events have been excluded from this review – you can read about their top ten here.)

10. Nigeria

I Truly Hope You Have a Miraculous Weekend!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Business of Drones: Minnesota

As most readers are aware, commercial use of drones in the United States will begin late next year. Many are seeing this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to get in on what will be the equivalent of a California Gold Rush in the geospatial industry. More than a few in Minnesota want a piece of the action:

(Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 14, 2014)

Comment: Education will be key to understanding this transition and what it means for all parts of society, to include the Emergency Services Sector. To that end, a good place to start would be at an upcoming forum hosted by the University of Minnesota. Details below:

  • What: Preparing for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in Minnesota
  • When: Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. 
  • WhereContinuing Education and Conference Center, Room 135A/C, University of Minnesota, 1890 Buford Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108
  • Cost: $75
  • Registration Deadline: April 24, 2014
  • More: Event Link

Graphic credit:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

HAZUS Annual Conference: August 4–6, 2014

"Translating Risk Assessment into Resilience and Policy" will be the theme for the 7th annual HAZUS User Conference, to be held in Indianapolis, Indiana in early August. Highlights for this event which focuses on bringing together HAZUS users to share "success stories, best practices, lessons learned, recent research, and workshops and discussions on HAZUS topics of interest," can be found below:

  • What: 7th Annual Hazus User Conference
  • When: August 4–6, 2014
  • Where: Indiana Government Center South, 302 W. Washington St. Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
  • Cost: Registration is free and open to the public, however space is limited to 350 attendees.
  • Registration Deadline: July 23rd, 2014, at website link below
  • Abstract Deadline: June 1st, 2014, sent to Dave Coats at

More information at the links below:
(FEMA Bulletin, April 10, 2014)

Comment: A great event hosted by Kevin Mickey and the always rock-solid folks at the Polis Center, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. If HAZUS is in your past, present or future, don't miss it!