Friday, September 28, 2012

Fahrenheit 212 Friday: Faceoff, We Told You So - But You Wouldn't Listen, GPS for Powertools, Flying Squirrel Suit In Reverse, and SWEEETOTT!

I got a spanking from the editorial board after last Friday's monkey business, so I have to keep it under control this time around or else.... 

Faceoff: Turns out I'm not the only one in hot water. Facebook joined me for a toasty swim when some European Union legal arm twisting made them turn off their facial recognition feature for European users effective October 15th. Good to see someone's paying attention - at least in Europe. More, below:

We Told You So - But You Wouldn't Listen: Earlier this year we ran a piece on how Public Safety officials are concerned about the growing problem of individuals losing situational awareness while texting and doing something else, like - walking. The woman in the case below was clearly task saturated when she fell off a cliff - she was texting, walking, and smoking.  You can't make it up - more below:

GPS for Powertools?:  Clearly, the details of this story are vague (huh?). The MIT crowd is back at it again - this time they have come up with a gadget that works like a GPS for power tools. Oh, great. Does that mean, "Measure twice, cut once," becomes an obsolete phrase in English?  Links to read the article, or watch the U.S. map go from screen to product, can be found below:

For the Home Workshop, a GPS for Power Tools (New York Times, September 22, 2012)

Flying Squirrel Suit in Reverse: Most of us have seen one of those videos of crazy people jumping off mountain peaks and then "flying" down a mountain, often at only a 100' or so off the ground at 100+ miles per hour.  Now, some folks have come up with a plan to do it in reverse, in a much safer fashion, and over terrain where humans could never "fly". Mountain climbers, start your drones. More, below:

SWEEETOTT! (or "SWAT Team Meets Candy Bar"): If there was ever a human event analogous to a fish taking the bait and then being reeled in, this is it.  Nestle's "We Will Find You" advertising promotion is putting GPS tracking devices in six candy bars in the UK so they can track down winners of 10,000 pounds (ok, so it was a bad pun). Hopefully, the GPS tracking device won't be in the candy bar.  Video, or story link, below:

Truly hope you have a sweet weekend.....

Lead photo:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ideas About Crowdsourcing's Future

From the very beginning of efforts to create crowdsourced geospatial data (e.g. OpenStreetMap), there have been doubts about accuracy, and consequently, value. Nowhere is that more true than in the realm of emergency preparedness and response. In keeping with that thought, a recent online article offered some interesting thoughts about where crowdsourcing efforts are headed, and what the Emergency Services Sector and others need to do to participate.  More, below:

Is All Crowdsourced Data Valid for the Geospatial Sector? (Sensors and Systems, September 24, 2012)

Comment: I would not have offered this article for your consideration if I didn't think it made some excellent points.  However, my thinking is considerably divergent from that of the author when it comes to the current use of crowdsourced data at FEMA. Although Administrator Fugate and staff have made considerable progress in implementing new technologies in some areas of the agency (eCAPS, anyone?), I'm personally not aware of any "crowdsourcing" measures that have been put in place other than those used to broadcast out information using social media. That's a one way street. Crowdsourcing is about a web-based, multi-directional exchange of information which provides crowd awareness to those who need it. And according to a FEMA commissioned Strategic Foresight Initiative paper, Universal Access to and Use of Information, the entire Emergency Management community in the United States has a some work to do before the power of crowdsourcing and other emerging technologies have been appropriately leveraged.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New Cell Phone Cases - The Location Tracking Mess Continues

Earlier this year, this blog reported on United States v. Jones.  In that case, the Supreme Court threw out the conviction of Washington D.C. drug kingpin, Antoine Jones, on the basis the FBI had failed to obtain a warrant before attaching a GPS tracking device to Mr. Jones's car. Therefore, the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights protecting him from unreasonable search and seizure had been violated, and the conviction was thrown out. Since that ruling, there have been several related developments, with two major publications recently commenting on the confused state of affairs that has been created by the multiple ways there are to track an individual.

First, in a case that had many components of United States v. Jones, in the middle of August, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the cell phone location information of a drug smuggler was admissible in court. Consequently, three days worth of data showing his whereabouts in an RV loaded with marijuana could be used against him. More, below: 

When GPS Tracking Violates Privacy Rights (New York Times, September 22, 2012)

Second, came comment on the attempt by the Federal government to haul Mr. Jones back into court and try him based on location data available from his cell phone records, instead of the location data of the GPS tracking device that had been ruled inadmissible. For more, read below:

Comment: Unfortunately, the muddled state of affairs is the direct result of laws not keeping up with technology.  As a consequence, the courts are being forced to do the jobs of legislators. Like many parts of Geospatial Revolution, awareness and engagement is needed from leaders on all levels, or this situation is only going to get worse.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Silver Jackets

As a way to bring together diverse Federal, State and Local agencies with flood related responsibilities, for the past several years the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and FEMA have been spearheading interagency collaboration and cooperation through a program called Silver Jackets.  The stated goals of this effort focused on reducing  flood risks and enhancing response and recovery efforts when flooding does occur include:

  • "Create or supplement a mechanism to collaboratively identify, prioritize, and address risk management issues and implement solutions, 
  • Increase and improve risk communication through a unified interagency effort, 
  • Leverage information and resources and provide access to such national programs as FEMA's Risk Mapping, Assessment, and Planning (Risk MAP) program and USACE's Levee Inventory and Assessment Initiative (see also: National Levee Database), 
  • Provide focused, coordinated hazard mitigation assistance in implementing high-priority actions such as those identified by state mitigation plans, 
  • Identify gaps among agency programs and/or barriers to implementation, such as conflicting agency policies or authorities, and provide recommendations for addressing these issues."

To learn more about this state focused program that is now active in 33 states, use the links below: 

Comment: Great to see a collaborative effort like this gaining steam.  And of course, at the heart of any program like this is a map!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Apple Maps - Therein Lies the Problem

For some time now, the geospatial community has been waiting to see if Apple would be able to pull off its plan to unplug Google Maps from its operating system (see: Mobile Mapping Wars: Apple Versus Google).  Last week, the answer arrived.  Yes - and no. With release of Apple's latest operating system, Apple officially launched it's own map application, but reviews on that move have been less than kind. To get a sense of what is being said, click the links below, or view the video:  

Apple’s Feud With Google Is Now Felt on iPhone (New York Times, September 23, 2012)

Comment: Earlier this month, The Atlantic ran an in-depth article about the behind the scenes effort at Google Maps (see: How Google Builds Its Maps and What It Means for the Future of Everything). At the center of that story is a discussion about the enormity of effort it took to make Google Maps what it is today. In that thought, and the disappointment felt by many about the Apple Maps launch, is the single most important lesson any individual in the Emergency Service Sector will ever need to learn about geospatial technologies: "It's not the hardware or operating system that matters, IT'S THE DATA!!!"  Just because some vendor comes to town hawking the biggest, fastest, newest hardware/software combination around, doesn't mean understanding of "where" is going to improve. The ONLY way that is going to happen is through the collaborative sharing of geospatial data across the public-private enterprise. Without that kind of effort, that new computer or hand-held is nothing more than a paper weight when it comes to "where".  

To learn what the Twin Cities is trying to do to solve this problem, click here.

Lead graphic: Apple

Friday, September 21, 2012

Follow Something Friday: Flights, Students, Bullets, Zombies, and Noses

It's Friday, and once again I'm headed out for a reckless, careening, fly-through of a collection of weird and seemingly pointless stories that I somehow would like to believe have something to do with the use of geospatial and related technologies in the Emergency Services Sector.......

Flight Following (Personal Safety Category): More than a few folks traveling by air have showed up at home when they weren't expected - and, the other way around.  Now there's a way to alleviate that problem once and for all because "technology" has delivered robust real-time flight following to your computer or hand-held! Use the links below to find out how, or click here to understand how pilots manage the incredibly complex technology of today's aircraft.

A Map of Every Passenger Plane in the Skies at This Instant (Smithsonian Smart News, September 17, 2012)

Student Following (Privacy Category): In follow up to a post I ran earlier this year (RFID Tracking of Students Comes to San Antonio), Wired magazine has provided an update.  For more, click below:

Street View Following (Law Enforcement Category):  Hey, it wouldn't be Friday if I weren't passing along some inane story about Google's Street View - and last time I checked, it's Friday. Click below to learn how a Street View driver is faster than a speeding bullet while driving through Detroit (If the guys and gals driving Street View cars in places like this aren't getting Hostile Fire/Imminent Danger Pay, they should be):

Follow On Zombie Attack (Munching on Your Neighbor Category): FEMA has recently decided to follow the lead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by sponsoring a preparedness campaign based on an anticipated Zombie Attack. Sorry, try as I may, I don't get it. Something tells me there are a couple of very slick advertising "weavers" on Madison Avenue and soon a small boy is going to be shouting out something along the lines of: "The Emperor isn't wearing any clothes."  Decide for yourself, click below: 

Follow That Nose! (Mild Attempt at Subject Matter Redemption Category): London's MailOnline recently ran a piece on "smell maps" that are being developed for various cities around the world. Created by artist Kate McLean, the maps are offered as a way to enhance understanding of a city's environment. As envisioned by Ms. McLean, the concept could be used to promote tourism.  As envisioned by me, the maps could be used to help create a baseline for a sniffer system of sensors that's looking for trouble (toxic release, etc.).  Anyway, for a whiff of this story, click below:  

All for this week.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

MAPS - Volunteers Down Under

Recently, Asian Surveying and Mapping ran a piece on how geospatial technologies are currently being used in eastern Australia to support the Emergency Services Sector (ESS).   Although the article doesn't deliver a great deal of technical detail, it does a very nice job of explaining the ways in which geospatial capabilities are being used within the different phases of the Emergency Management Cycle. Additionally, from the perspective of supportive volunteer efforts, the highlight of the story is MAPS - Mapping and Planning Support.  According to its website, the history of MAPS is as follows:
"MAPS was formed in 2005 in response to the 2003 Canberra fires. During those fires the ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) had a sophisticated mapping system in place but after two weeks of continuous operation the ESA ran out of people to operate the system. Only some heroic efforts by a couple of individuals kept the maps coming off the printers. Ironically, for its population size, Canberra has the highest concentration of GIS experts anywhere in Australia. But at the height of an emergency ESA had no way of knowing who and where they were. A protocol was needed for drawing upon that expertise at short notice.*
The Mapping and Planning Support Group (MAPS) is a new volunteering model that enables emergency managers in the ACT and the surrounding region to reliably tap this valuable resource of willing and able experts."
To learn more about either of these topics, use the links below:

Mapping to Protect Life and Property (MAPS Blog, March 3, 2011)

Comment: During at least one event in the recent past (Queensland Floods and Typhoons of 2010-2011), MAPS and URISA's GISCorps partnered on their support efforts, so functional similarities abound.  However, what is worthy to note about MAPS is their apparent acceptance and integration into the formal governmental response structure. On many levels, that is a significant achievement that both MAPS and the Australian response community should be very proud!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Drone Invasion

It's easy enough to dismiss a single story on a subject as being reactionary or over stating the case.  But, when the volume and scope increases to the point where you can't open a newspaper or visit an online news source without finding some mention of a particular subject, you know for sure a topic has arrived.  And so it is with an issue this blog has covered since inception: the far reaching implications of the drone/Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)/Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) invasion of the public sector that is currently underway.  In keeping with that point, your consideration of some stories and reports from the past 60-days or so, is invited below:

The Emerging ‘Drone’ Culture (Editorial, Miami Herald, August 6, 2012)

Are You Ready for Civilian Drones? (Emergency Management, August 3, 2012)

Comment: Get the idea?  The nation is on the cusp of a paradigm shift that will have profound impact on the geospatial community and Emergency Services Sector.  If you work in one of these professions, try as you may, it's a revolution you won't be able to avoid.  Probably best to be on the proactive, rather than reactive, side of that reality.

Lead photo:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

There's Nothing Like a Hot Cup of U.S. National Grid!

"Coffee break training" is routinely used in the Emergency Services Sector (ESS) as a way to provide brief periods of training that acknowledge the often hectic and erratic schedules of personnel in the ESS.  In support of that concept, yesterday, the U.S. Fire Administration released its latest Coffee Break Training bulletin: United States National Grid. To join in that learning experience (it's a one pager that takes less than 5 minutes to read), click the link below:

Comment: This is a great little informational flyer about how map production and use can be standardized to support the realities of disasters - that being many different groups working together, usually in unfamiliar terrain, and needing a grid approach from day one (e.g. SAR).  In addition, if a standardized language of location isn't used during "everyday" responses, it won't work when it's needed most.

Plenty more on this subject can be found on this blog by using the "Archive of Posts by Subject" feature at the top of this page. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Technology Lessons From Disasters in Underdeveloped Countries

This past Friday, September 14, 2012, the Wilson Center hosted a series of talks packaged as, "Connecting Grassroots to Government for Disaster Management: A Policy Roundtable."  The keynote presentation of the effort was, "Connecting Grassroots to Government through Open Innovation."  On this topic, the featured speakers were Chistopher Fabian, Co-Lead, Innovation Lab, UNICEF and Nigel Snoad, Product Manager, Crisis Response, Google, as moderated by Gisli Olafson, Emergency Response Director, NetHope. From comments initially offered by Mr. Fabian, these gentlemen drove home the idea of five guiding principles for the development of technology to support disaster responses in underdeveloped countries.  Those principles are:
  1. Technology must be user-centric - products need to be built hand-in-hand with users, where they live,
  2. Technology must be scalable - products must allow for local follow-on development in the location where it was deployed,
  3. Developers must be prepared to fail - technology development in this realm is really hard to do - be prepared to fail often, quickly, and openly,  
  4. Technology has to be Open Source - so that it can be freely shared and have value added by others, and 
  5. Development must be done in an environment of collaboration - no one group has the money or brains to solve every problem, therefore collaboration is key.
In total, comments offered by these gentleman lasted just over an hour.  If you would like to hear their comments in full, use the link below, starting at the 3:37:50 point of the video. 

Comment: Classic statement in the mix of a series of thought provoking comments - "Nothing that is developed at headquarters ever works in the field."  Ha!  These gentlemen are down in the trenches making technology work to reduce suffering and save lives on a grand scale.  An hour of their thoughts, would be worth many years of hard knocks to you - even if you live in a "developed" country.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Five For Friday: I Did Not Know That!

As pretty much everybody knows who reads this blog with any degree of regularity - on most Fridays, I'm in the car when it goes over the cliff.  Ye, ha.......

Item #1: Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) of collapsed structures uses a variety of tools to search for trapped victims; things like specially trained dogs, sensitive listening devices, and flexible snake video inspection cameras. But leave it to the academics to come up with the latest idea: cockroaches. No, really. Read below for more:

Remote-Control Roaches Seek Out Disaster Victims (CBS Charlotte, September 10, 2012)

Item #2: Unless it's the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, and we are talking Katrina, sports stadiums and disasters don't tend to travel in the same sentence. That is until the Associated Press recently put together a list of disasters at these sites. More than a few are eye openers when it comes to numbers.  Click below to read more:

Item #3: Recently, the Prime Minister of India warned all who would listen about the dangers of social media. This is serious stuff - no matter which side of this story you come down on - and no, we aren't talking about Blackberry Thumb.  Below for more:

Item #4: Yours truly got to blab about U.S. National Grid during FEMA's first national Think Tank Conference Call back in January. Now, FEMA has made available the audio and written transcripts of that event and every subsequent conference call so you can listen/read whenever you want.  The archive contains some great ideas and interesting discussions. Use the link below to check out what's available:

Item #5: It's bad enough that surveillance cameras are showing up pretty much everywhere, but really, shouldn't there be some sort of limits?  First comes a report that some folks think it would be a great idea to continuously stream a Philadelphia suburb's surveillance cameras over a local use TV channel. Then comes a report that a sizable number of British schools have installed video surveillance systems in their bathrooms. Seriously, what if these two groups get together and join efforts - then where will we be? Read more below:

Have a great weekend!

Lead graphic:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

USGS Flood Inundation Mapper is Released

Late last month, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced it was releasing an online application called "Flood Inundation Mapper"(FIM). As presented, this new tool combines in one platform some of the most important flood related services of the four contributing organizations: USGS - base map services and stream gage information, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) - flood plain data, FEMA - HAZUS information, and the National Weather Service (NWS) - additional monitoring capabilities and real time data.  Additional system features such as past site history and access to web cams give emergency managers and the public a powerful online tool that can be used during all phases of a flood related event.  The Sweetwater Creek to the west of Atlanta, GA, an area that experienced devastating floods in 2009, was selected as the initial demonstration site for what is planned to be a nationwide program. To learn more use the links below:

USGS Unveils Flood Mapping Tool for Atlanta Suburb (USGS Newsroom, August 22, 2012)

Comment: WoW!  What a concept - units of government working together to deliver in one place the important flood related information that they own!  I can't say enough good things about this development and the folks at USGS, FEMA, USACE, and NWS who made it happen.  Super effort!  Furthermore, almost as impressive is the fact the map platform has only two select-able coordinate systems.  Latitude/Longitude and ........(you'll just have to check out FIM to get the answer).

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Long Beach Common Operating Picture - Two Edged Sword

In the middle of last month, the Long Beach California Police Department (LBPD) unveiled the Long Beach Common Operating Picture (LBCOP), a city-wide video surveillance system.  Unique to the system, the Long Beach Police tied together not only the various video cameras of the city, but also those of business owners and citizens who wanted to be part of the system.  Additionally, other elements of existing technology like Automatic License Plate Recognition and criminal record searches have been coupled to the system as a way to focus the city's crime fighting technology in one place.  State and Federal grants were used to pay the majority of the $568,000 it took to build the system over the past two years.  Use the links below to read related articles or to view the press conference video (2:12):

Long Beach Unveils Cutting Edge Crime Fighting Technology (Long Beach Police Department News Release, August 13, 2012)

For a more detailed video review of the Long Beach system, click here (4:53)

Comment: As would be expected, those with "Big Brother" concerns immediately seized on this development as an invasion of privacy. Although Long Beach Mayor Robert Foster and Police Chief Jim McDonnell tried to alleviate those concerns by pointing out the system would be used primarily to provide support during a reported crime event, and business and private cameras in the system were contributed voluntarily, an unspoken issue was something that had happened one month earlier when the LBPD raided a "medical marijuana clinic" in the city.  In that event, LBPD officers were shown smashing at least one of the store's video surveillance system cameras in a segment run on a local television station.  Therein lies the two edged sword. Long Beach is well deserving of considerable accolades for this inventive approach that will improve public safety and ultimately save lives of citizens and officers. But, that value to the common good will quickly fade if the public believes they are being denied the ability to use the same technology to safeguard their interests.

With that said - press on Long Beach Police Department - we're wishing you the best with this ground breaking effort!  

Lead photo credit:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

8:46 A.M.

In remembrance of the 2,977 individuals who lost their lives as the result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, on December 18, 2001, President Bush signed Public Law 107-89, thereafter designating September 11th as "Patriot Day" in the United States. This discretionary day of remembrance requests two things of all Americans:

  • At 8:46 A.M. Eastern Time, observe a moment of silence in memory of those who lost their lives that day or during ensuing events like the War on Terror, and
  • Fly the U.S. flag at 1/2 mast.  

Comment: A couple of thoughts about this day from a geospatial perspective:

First, in the days after the 10th anniversary of 9/11, this author reviewed the available map and imagery collections that had been mentioned in various remembrance publications. Two were thought worthwhile to pass along.  They were:

A review of options offered this year, adds a third to the list:

Second, when it comes to events that shape the scope and depth of a nation's geospatial intelligence efforts, nothing is more impactful than war.  However, with the War on Terror, there's a dramatic twist.  Unlike a traditional war, our nation's geospatial intelligence efforts have had to focus on our enemies' lands, and on our homeland as well.  That's because unlike any other time in American history, the potential for WMD scale terrorism that was demonstrated on 9/11 means we need to clearly understand the vulnerabilities of our nation's critical infrastructure.  And the best way to do that is - geographically.  Consequently, geospatial information efforts like the Homeland Infrastructure Foundation Level Data (HIFLD) Working Group have come into existence to deliver a basic static data capability that can be used for both man-made and natural disaster responses - while some items of geospatial data are now thought by some to be too dangerous to openly share (see: Blurred Satellite Images - Living in the Post 9/11 World).  

Yes, to be certain, 9/11 changed the world in many ways....    

Lead photo: National Geographic

Monday, September 10, 2012

Latest Social Media Findings by the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross recently released its latest findings on social media use during emergencies based on information collected prior to, and during, Hurricane Isaac. Overall, research suggests a significant increase in the number of individuals using mobile apps and social media to obtain situational awareness information and to report event related information to others. Of particular note in that regard, 76% expected help to arrive within 3 hours after posting a need on a social site. Highlights of the report can be found in the infographic above. For additional details, or to download one of the Red Cross's emergency apps, use the links below:

Comment: The bi-directional capability of social media is an elephant in the room that the Emergency Services Sector (ESS) is going to have to deal with, and the sooner, the better.  It's one thing to think of social media - Twitter and the like - as an ESS broadcast tool for sending out messages to the community of users about what is happening during an event.  It's completely another thing figuring out how to harvest and appropriately channel the in-coming situational awareness data stream potentially available from the legions of human sensors who are now armed the data reporting tool we call the smartphone.

Lead graphic: American Red Cross

Friday, September 7, 2012

Floundering Around Friday

The pace is picking up, and yours truly can't keep up. This summer I've had to overlook some stories and been left scratching my head by others.  Proof of my floundering around can be found below:

July 5, 2012Gotcha! Google Street View Leads to Conviction. Besides suffering from Street View story overload - I think I don't get this one because there was something lost in translation..... 

July 18, 2012APCO Unveils Vehicular Emergency Data Set to Encourage Deployment of Advanced Automatic Crash Notification by Vehicle Manufacturers.  OK, maybe I tuned this one out because it's a pretty dry story. But, some good folks put in many long hours to figure out communication standards that will allow automotive sensors of the future to automatically report the location and details of an accident to first responders.  Nice!  

July 19, 2012Officials Approve Study of SF Bay Area Mileage Tax.  Best line in this story about using a GPS-based approach to track an individual's total miles driven, and specific roads used each day, is this quote: "The last thing we're interested in is where you go and what you do...." Huh?  See what I mean? I missed something.

August 21, 2012U-M Transportation Research Institute Leads Way in 'Smart Car' Technology.  "Connected Cars, Confound Crashes" would be the short byline on this one.  The smarter machines get, the dumber I look.

September 3, 2012Earthquake Damage: Are Bad Maps to Blame?  When I was growing up, Time magazine was one notch below Encyclopedia Britannica when it came to factual articles. With a title like that for this story, next thing you know Time will be blaming "Bad Maps" for a whole host of social ills like teen-age pregnancy, street crime, and bar brawls.     

OK, enough fooling around.  On a more serious note, here are three educational opportunities you may want to catch in the coming week:

And with that - have a great weekend!

Lead graphic 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Street View to the Rescue?

As noted by several recent posts on this blog, this summer Google's Street View project has been engaged in a number of innovative efforts to document places that are outside the realm of the original street focused concept. Notable among them have been excursions to the South Pole and other locations in Antarctica, and Google Trike rides through at least one town in the northern Canadian Arctic (2:38 video).  However, as interesting as these efforts may be, perhaps even more interesting has been the Street View transition from some type of mechanical locomotion, to only that provided by the human foot.  Watch below (31 seconds):

Comment: From an emergency response perspective, it's hard to watch the above clip and not think about how, as the technology continues to mutate and shrink in size, the potential future in the Emergency Services Sector (ESS) could be huge. Urban Search and Rescue support and documentation of disaster impacts are just two of the ideas that come to mind. So thanks again go out to Google for developing something that has utility in ways other than how it was originally intended.   

Lead photo credit: Chris Wattie/Reuters

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

NOAA Funds Research on Use of New Information Technologies

Inside the Mississippi State Emergency Operations Center - Hurricane Isaac

In an effort to improve its exchange of information with the public, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has recently announced the award of four research grants related to emergency preparedness and response.  They are:
  1. Tornadoes and Twitter: " Twitter messages could be tapped as a source of local weather observations and how Twitter could be used to share weather updates."
  2. An Inundation of Flood Data: "...research to develop strategies to improve online flood forecasting tools and to better motivate residents to prepare for floods and respond to flood warnings."
  3. Deciding to Seek Shelter: "...research to explore factors that explain why some people rush for shelter when they receive a tornado warning and others do not."
  4. Managing a Weather Emergency: "...research on how NWS can improve its products and services to feed helpful information into the complex network of people who manage public emergency services."
For the full story on this development, use the link below:

Comment: As they have done in the past with the introduction of graphic communication products that support their information exchange with the public, looks like NOAA is again taking a position of national leadership in determining how to best leverage current and emerging technologies to deliver disaster related information. Great to see - keep up the good work!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

USGS Deploys LIDAR to Map Isaac

3-D LIDAR Scan - Interstate-510 bridge in New Orleans, LA, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012 (USGS)
A 1.8 MB version of this image is available by clicking here

According to a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Newsroom release of September 1, 2012, USGS scientist have been experimenting with both airborne and terrestrial LIDAR (LIght Detection And Ranging) in select areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama to document the extent of urban flooding caused by Hurricane Isaac. Given the ability of LIDAR to collect millions of highly accurate 3-D data points in a very brief time span, the approach potentially holds value for a wide range of flooding related uses such as near real time determination of flood extent, post event damage assessment, and future mitigation planning.  To learn more use the link below:    

Comment: This is a fabulous development and shows a way to the future.  Indeed, let's hope someday there will be LIDAR collects performed as a matter of routine every time it is thought a disaster will be serious enough to require FEMA involvement.