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: kaaltv.com

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 decoats@iupui.edu

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! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

GIS for Airport Emergency Management


While doing research I occasionally come across a resource that I missed as the clock moved forward. Such is the case with a collection of informational items on the use of GIS for Emergency Management at airports which was released last year by the National Academies. Here's the description: 
ACRP Report 88: Guidebook on Integrating GIS in Emergency Management at airports consists of a guidebook and a CD with worksheets to help airports identify needs and assess current capabilities with respect to using geographical information systems (GIS) in emergency management (EM). The information collected in the worksheets provided become the backbone of a GIS-EM integration plan. A PowerPoint presentation (available on theTRB website by searching for ACRP Report 88) outlines the benefits of integrating GIS into EM and can be used when presenting those benefits to stakeholders.
And the backgrounder: 
A geographic information system (GIS) can be a productive tool to enhance EM and significantly reduce the gap in information flow and accuracy. For example, several airports have airport-specific assets mapped in various GIS layers including the following:
  • Runways;
  • Gates;
  • Terminals and buildings;
  • Roads and parking;
  • Power stations and utility lines;
  • Storage facilities;
  • Fire suppression and alarm system components;
  • IT infrastructure, location of on-site staging areas; and
  • Other items, such as lease space/tenant information.
These assets and their associated information can be key components to modern day EM operations.
You can download the guidebook and more at the link below:

(Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, March, 2013)


Comment: As infrastructure goes, transportation is as key as it gets. This point is especially true when it comes to aviation. Although the vast majority of U.S. airports have very well developed emergency response plans that have been honed during the past century of aviation in this country, it is noteworthy that the National Academies is prodding the greater community to rethink their planning based on what GIS can add to the equation. Nice!

Related side note - As ongoing encouragement on the subject matter in general, the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies will be hosting a webinar entitled: Emergency and Disaster Preparedness: Cooperation and Coordination for Effective Response on June 18th, between 2:00 - 3:30 PM EDT. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

One Day Only to Buy Google Glass - April 15th


If you're one of those folks who just can't wait for the latest and greatest whatever, here's your chance at what the pitch man on TV would say is a "limited time, first-come-first-serve" chance to own Google Glass. They aren't kidding either - one day - April 15th, starting at 8AM CDT. Provided you have $1500 laying around that you don't know what to do with, here are the details:

(The Verge, April 10, 2014)


Comment: No one is ever going to accuse the crew at Google of being a bunch of dummies. With the significant push-back they've experienced from the public after a small number of "Explorers" began wearing Google Glass early last year, shrewd move on their part dribbling out a few more pairs, and then seeing where things go from there. I guess you could say Google has vision...

Photo credit: androidpolice.com

Friday, April 11, 2014

Flip-side Friday: Answering the Call


As any seasoned reader of this blog knows, at times I can be somewhat harsh with my comments about the Emergency Services Sector and its occasional misuse of geospatial and related technologies. Although that approach might make it appear I think members of the ESS aren't doing their jobs, truth is, I just think they need more help. Proof below:

(Odd News, March 28, 2014)

(WTOP Local News, March 25, 2014)

(WTSP News, February 26, 2014)


Hope You Have a Brilliant Weekend!


Photo Credit: NYC.gov

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Satellites and Sensors Deployed to Save Pompeii


In what may end up being the ultimate example of the emergency management cycle in action, Italian aerospace and defense company Finmeccanica is donating $2.3 million of satellite and sensor capabilities to help save the Roman ruins at Pompeii. Through an agreement with the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities (MiBACT), the company will donate its services as part of a group that will be developing collaborative answers for saving the UNESCO World Heritage site. According to the corporate news release, efforts will initially focus on three areas:

  • Risks of hydrogeological instability,
  • Operational management of the site, and
  • Constructions and structure diagnoses.

More below:

(CTV News, April 5, 2014)

(Finmeccanica News Release, April 3, 2014)



Comment: Very cool - satellites and sensors will be used to hold off a disaster for a town that experienced a different disaster nearly 2,000 years ago! Learn more about the need for this type of effort by clicking here.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia