Claire B. Rubin has 32 years of experience as a researcher, consultant, and educator in the fields of emergency management and homeland security

  • Another Report on H. Sandy Rebuilding – from RAND

    20 Dec 2014 | 3:09 pm

    From RAND: The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force’s Infrastructure Resilience Guidelines; An Initial Assessment of Implementation by Federal Agencies. 2014; 74 pages. This report is very different from the one done by CRS, as noted in the previous posting. It focuses on Infrastructure Resilience Guidelines. And the Diva has to admit she does not know much about this topic.  She welcomes comments about the report from readers.Filed under: Infrastructure, Resilience

  • “Update on H. Sandy Rebuilding Strategy” from CRS

    19 Dec 2014 | 6:19 am

    For those of you who share my abiding interest in recovery, and a special interest in the many new initiates from the feds post Sandy, I highly recommend this new report from the Congressional Research Service. See: The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Strategy: In Brief  by Jared T. Brown. December 4, 2014. The Diva remains interested in the recovery and rebuilding efforts post Sandy because a large amount of federal money was spent, an Executive Order creating a special federal task force was issued, and the Task Force has issued several progress reports. [I have written about this topic several times in the past two years — all of which you can find using the search function at bottom right column of this blog.] I remain curious about the fullness of the implementation, whether some of the changes in federal recovery programs and processes are lasting, and whether the use of a recovery task force will be replicated.  These topics are addressed in the CRS report.  Filed under: Hurricane Sandy

  • Book Review: Governance for Urban Sustainability and Resilience

    17 Dec 2014 | 4:26 pm

    Author: Jeroen van der Heijden Title: Governance for Urban Sustainability and Resilience; Responding to Climate Change and the Relevance of the Built Environment Publisher: Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, UK Northampton MA USA Oct 2014.  ISBN: 9781782548126 eISBN: 9781782548133; Pages: 256; on-line price $102 USD. Note: Free preview of Ch. 1, references, and index from the URL noted above.  Key words: environmental governance, sustainability, resilience, climate risk, natural hazard, disaster risk reduction, building regulation. Reviewer: Donald Watson is an architect and planner, author of Design for Flooding: Resilience to Climate Change (Wiley 2011) and Editor-in-Chief, Time-Saver Standards for Urban Design (McGraw-Hill 2003). This new book makes an important contribution to policy and programs for building sector energy efficiency, sustainability and resilience to natural hazards. It an essential reference for planners and policy makers engaged in programs to achieve sustainability and resilience in buildings and infrastructure. It is clearly written, with conclusions supported by case examples and references. Mr. Jeroen van der Heijden deserves praise for a very careful assessment of what has worked and not worked to improve building sustainability (energy and resource efficiency) and to increase resiliency (disaster risk reduction). The book’s great contribution is its reasoned presentation of evidence on which to base recommendations for public and private policies, programs and projects. The title states the theme of the book–Governance for Urban Sustainability and Resilience—roles and responsibilities for performance of buildings within existing regulations and innovative practices—as a critical variable, along with technological improvements and behavioral change, intended to[…]

  • White House Launches Disasters.Data.Gov

    17 Dec 2014 | 6:04 am

    Launching Disasters.Data.Gov to Empower First Responders and Survivors with Innovative Tools and Data. Some details from the website: Strengthening our Nation’s resilience to disasters is a shared responsibility, with all community members contributing their unique skills and perspectives. Whether you’re a data steward who can unlock information and foster a culture of open data, an innovator who can help address disaster preparedness challenges, or a volunteer ready to join the “Innovation for Disasters” movement, we are excited for you to visit the new site, launching today. First previewed at the White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Initiative Demo Day, is designed to be a public resource to foster collaboration and the continual improvement of disaster-related open data, free tools, and new ways to empower first responders, survivors, and government officials with the information needed in the wake of a disaster. Another take on the topic of disasters and data. While browsing the web re the new WH website, I turned up this article: What Startups Taught the White House During Disaster. It’s dated May 2013, but it is interesting to me.

  • Earthquake Recovery Exercise – from FEMA in January

    16 Dec 2014 | 2:42 am

    Full details of the January training program are here.

  • Another Infographic: State Rankings re Disaster Preparedness

    15 Dec 2014 | 11:43 am

    Here is another infographic, this time from the Food Storage company. See: Ratings of State Preparedness for Disaster.  Note that I have no idea where they got their data, but the rankings are interesting. I cannot vouch for the accuracy. Minor complaint: the printoff is 11 pages long, and the last 4 are not useful. A waste of paper.Filed under: State

  • Infographic: Top Natural Disasters that Threaten Businesses

    13 Dec 2014 | 8:26 am

    I know that readers like infographics – the Diva does too when they edify and do not oversimplify the subject matter.  See this new one: Top Natural Disasters That Threaten Businesses, which was done by Eastern KY University. Thanks to Austin Anderson for bringing it to my attention. He notes that “The linked graphic displays the top natural disasters affecting businesses while providing valuable solutions on how to prepare for such a devastating event.”Filed under: business community

  • Progress re H. Sandy Outcomes

    13 Dec 2014 | 4:39 am

    There were two news items this week regarding improvements in efficiency of the Build Back program in NY and at FEMA with regard to payouts to victims: See (1) Progress on Rebuiding in NY.  According to this Staten Island news article, progress is now being make on payments to Sandy victims whose homes were damaged — Hurricane Sandy victims see some relief (commentary). (2) GAO Report on FEMA:  See Hurricane Sandy: FEMA Has Improved Disaster Aid Verification but Could Act to Further Limit Improper Assistance. GAO-15-15: Dec 12, 2014.  Filed under: Housing

  • Health Problems After H. Sandy

    12 Dec 2014 | 5:07 am

    It probably is not a surprise to many people familiar with how stressful disasters can be. See this article titled Hurricane Sandy Increase Incident of Heart Attacks and Strokes in N.J.Filed under: Health

  • New NAS Booklets on Climate Change: Evidence and Causes

    11 Dec 2014 | 5:51 pm

    Climate Change: Evidence and Causes: Set of 5 Booklets (2014); download is 36 pages. Actually, the docs were produced by both the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society. One can either purchase a hard copy or download for free all documents issued by the National Academy of Sciences.Filed under: climate change

  • Reach Your Audience in an Emergency: #SMEM

    1 May 2014 | 11:04 am

    Reach Your Audience in an Emergency: #SMEM Post by: Kim Stephens Keep the flood photos coming. Click here to upload: — WJZ | CBS Baltimore (@cbsbaltimore) April 30, 2014 Flooding was rampant yesterday for what seemed like half the country. Social Media was buzzing with images, safety tips and information about the event as it continued to get increasingly worse as the day wore on and the rain seemed unending. GALLERY: Heavy April Showers Bring Flooding To Maryland. Upload Your Flood Photos, Here: — WJZ | CBS Baltimore (@cbsbaltimore) April 30, 2014 Using social networks to communicate emergency, safety and preparedness information has now, in 2014, become a standard operating procedure for quite a few emergency management and response organizations. As with any standard procedure, each event can provide an opportunity to understand how to improve and adjust. As a person on the receiving end of the information stream yesterday, I noticed three things that could be improved upon. 1.  Ensure posts are “Mobile Ready” On a day where the situation is changing rapidly, as it does with flooding, people will be looking for information anywhere they can get it. It is important to keep in mind that there is a high likelihood that those searches will be occurring on a mobile device. According to the Pew Research Center “The growing ubiquity of cell phones, especially the rise of smartphones, has made social networking just a finger tap away.  Fully 40% of cell phone owners use a social networking site on their phone,[…]

  • Keeping the Lines of Communication Open: Atlanta Public School’s Long Snow Day

    29 Jan 2014 | 10:08 am

    Keeping the Lines of Communication Open: Atlanta Public School’s Long Snow Day Post by: Kim Stephens We had a light dusting of snow last night and schools are closed today in my county. I’m guessing there are some officials in Atlanta wishing they had made the same decision yesterday before snow and ice paralyzed the city‘s roadways. Although they tried to dismiss school early the traffic was so horrific some buses were unable to get children home and instead had to return them to school. Parents who normally pick up their children were stuck in traffic eerily reminiscent of scenes from the Atlanta-based series The Walking Dead. A shelter-in-place order was issued after 10:00 pm last night and about 452 staff and students spent the night in several different ATL public school buildings. This situation could be any public communicator’s nightmare scenario. However, the Atlanta Public School’s communications team provided a master class in emergency information dissemination, mainly through their @apsupdate (or Atlanta Public Schools Update) Twitter account. Here are a few things they did well. 1. Addressed parents questions and concerns directly Reply to @KharaJ1 be sure to reach out to your child's school. All students are allowed to use phones. — ATL Public Schools (@apsupdate) January 29, 2014 I have heard quite a few communicators debate whether or not they should address direct questions since it could overwhelm staff and bog down the message they are trying to convey. However, in this situation, the decision to address each person was the only logical choice–ignoring parents’ questions could have been its own[…]

  • Deaf People Use Social Media to Make Their Voices Heard: Can #SMEM be used to reach them in a crisis?

    15 Dec 2013 | 2:24 pm

    Deaf People Use Social Media to Make Their Voices Heard: Can #SMEM be used to reach them in a crisis? Guest Post by: Dr. Steph Jo Kent News about the #fakeinterpreter for Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service worsened daily: from grotesque incompetence to mental illness to a potential record of violent crime. If ever there was a cautionary tale for emergency management, this is it. Are you wondering “how such a spectacular mistake could have been made“? Before the latest horrifying turn, sign language interpreters and members of the Deaf community were already beginning to emerge from the first waves of disappointment, anger, and humiliation. One man’s audacity, and what appears to be a laissez-faire attitude toward providing real communication access, drew the lightning bolt flash of long pent-up Deaf frustration. Cathy Heffernan, writing for The Guardian, presents the background: “Bad interpretation is surprisingly common and something that deaf people who use interpreters face on a regular basis. Across public services and the courts unqualified people are asked to translate, even in situations where clear communication can make the difference between life or death.” The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf established a Task Force in 2009 to begin drafting an official position paper and process for integrating qualified sign language interpreters into all stages of the emergency management cycle: preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation. Overtures to establish Emergency Management Interpreter Strike Teams have been made to responsible agencies and managers at many levels of government. Some jurisdictions have taken this seriously, most however have not. (See the Getting Real II Presentation for information on foundations laid in California, Georgia, and Florida.) Commentary from Rabbi Yehoshua Soudakoff, Director of Jewish Deaf Multimedia Deaf people were[…]

  • Information Design: Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words?

    12 Dec 2013 | 10:01 am

    Information Design:  Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? Post by: Kim Stephens Looking back on the year, there was one  article that stood out because of its clear use of graphics and imagery to communicate risk information. During the summer of 2013, the Washington Post published a short online report about the hazards at the Potomac River Gorge titled “The Perils at Great Falls.” This spot in the river is a deadly place where 27 people have died since 2001.  Standing on the banks, it looks deceptively calm, but it is what people don’t see on the surface that can kill–erratic currents, jagged cracks, potholes and uneven terrain can trap swimmers.  The article explained those hazards with imagery that eliminated the need to read even one word.  Some commented that the piece was the definition of information design: “…the practice of presenting information in a way that fosters efficient and effective understanding of it.”  (Wikipedia) Each of the major hazards in the river were given a graphical representation. In the image above the person is shown fishing off the bank: water rises rapidly and unexpectedly, sweeping him away. I have captured a screenshot, but the original graphic is animated. The image below shows hazards beneath the water and on the banks–cliffs that tempt people to jump in, and varied terrain underwater that can kill if you dive in the wrong spot. The Dreaded Fact Sheet Too often,  in the world of emergency management, images are occasionally included–if one can be dredged up, but they are usually not the focus[…]

  • Social Networking Trends of 2013 and Implications for #SMEM

    4 Dec 2013 | 9:52 am

    Social Networking Trends of 2013 and Implications for #SMEM Post by: Kim Stephens December is a month of reflection and I, along with Patrice Cloutier and James Garrow are using our blogs to highlight interesting  social media and emergency management trends from the year and note future possibilities for improvement. 2013 could be seen as a pivot point for quite a few organizations: social networking graduated from being novel and experimental, to just one of the tools in the communication’s toolbox. That being said, however, we still have a long way to go before full integration is realized throughout the response community. Social Networks: The Stats  We’ve all seen the statistics–social networks have millions and millions of users, except Facebook which sits at 1.11 billion. A deeper look at these stats, however,  can help create a more informed communication’s strategy, for instance,  is this the year to get G+ and Pinterest accounts? Here are a few noteworthy stats I’ve collected from a variety of sources, along with some possible implications. Twitter boasts over 500 millions users, but one interesting note is what these users are talking about. According to Nielsen, 33% of Twitter users tweet about television shows. Implication:   Why not schedule tweets that appear during shows that discuss disasters with links to information about how people can prepare–or where they could turn for help if that type of event happened in their community? If you are uncomfortable promoting a show that you did not create and have no quality control over, then simply add qualifiers, or correct misinformation, if necessary. New[…]