Saturday, January 14, 2012

First FEMA Think Tank Conference Call

The date for the first conference call that will discuss ideas from the FEMA Think Tank has been announced.  According to
The first call will take place from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Thursday, January 26th 2012. That week FEMA will post instructions for participating on the call as well as the information on the ideas that will be discussed.
Also according to the FEMA Think Tank home page, the intent of this, and subsequent calls, is as follows:
Deputy Administrator Serino will conduct monthly conference calls to discuss some of the real-life solutions and ideas that are generated by this online forum. These calls will be open to the general public and captioning for participants who are deaf or hard of hearing will be provided. The Deputy Administrator will travel to a different location each month to personally meet with members of the emergency management community.
What ideas will be discussed during the monthly conference call?  Each month, Deputy Administrator Serino will select three to four ideas on improving emergency management at the federal level to discuss during the conference call. The individuals that submitted these ideas will have the opportunity to brief the Deputy Administrator during the call. The call will then be opened for questions and further discussion.

Comment: Through efforts of readers of this board, and others from across the U.S., the number one idea on the FEMA Think Tank web page is: "U.S. National Grid as the Response Language of Location".  That's not to say everyone agrees with the premise that the nation needs a standard way to communicate location when the Emergency Services Sector (ESS) is called into action.  For every 11 votes supporting the idea, one person has voted against it.  Although politicians would love that statistic, it leaves one wondering what do the naysayers believe is the alternative?  Choices would be:

  • Keep doing what we are currently doing - no clearly stated national policy; a situation which leaves every jurisdiction off doing whatever they want.  How exactly does that create interoperability when disasters cross administrative borders?
  • Use street addresses to communicate "where"?  Beyond the fact 35% of response calls don't go to a street address, that's an approach that's doing a poor job for locations that have them.
  • How about using the Public Land Survey System (PLSS)?  In addition to being an incredibly cumbersome way to describe a location, more than a few states don't use PLSS.
  • Latitude-Longitude?  That's an attempt to take an approach created to support area navigation across great distances (sea, and then air) by very well trained navigators, and back fit it to meet localized needs of individuals who generally don't have a great deal of geospatial training.  And that's a difference that has contributed to the loss life during "rescues".
  • U.S. National Grid/Military Grid Reference System?  As the ultimate response organization, there are reasons the U.S. Armed Forces (and NATO) decided more than 60 years ago to use this system for land based operations: interoperability, precision, simplicity, and the desire to minimize the potential for LOSS OF LIFE inherent in the other systems that describe location.

To all you out there that have voted to place "U.S. National Grid as the Response Language of Location" at the top of the FEMA Think Tank - a BIG THANK YOU!  For those who haven't voted yet, please do so.  Click here to learn how.

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