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

  • Cyber Risk

    23 Apr 2014 | 4:58 pm

    Cyber Risk I ran across this report, done by the Zurich Insurance Group, on cyber risk. Although it is aimed at the business community, I thought the executive summary was compelling. Among the points made in the ad that I saw was: The report argues that the Internet’s stability is likely to decrease in the future – and given that it is ever more tightly linked with key systems such as the power grid and water supply, even one cyber failing has far-reaching destructive potential. The full report (32pp) is titled Risk Nexus; Beyond data breaches: global interconnections of cyber risk.  The executive summary and an infographic are available here: Executive Summary and Recommendations

  • Upcoming Conferences and Exhibition

    23 Apr 2014 | 6:11 am

    Upcoming Conferences and Exhibition Two Conferences in Boston: The University of MA in Boston is sponsoring the International Conference on Disaster Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Sustainable Reconstruction  on May 8 & 9, 2014.  The unit sponsoring it is the director of the Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities After Disasters (CRSCAD). The MIT Sea Grant Program is sponsoring a conference from June 16-18 in Boston; it is titled Climate Change Symposium – Sustaining Coastal Cities. The website for registration is Exhibition in Washington, DC Exhibition Explores Natural Hazard Risks and Mitigation Strategies ; Building Museum Opens May 11 From earthquakes and hurricanes to flooding and rising sea levels, natural disasters can strike anywhere and at any time. No region of the country is immune from the impacts and rising costs of disaster damage. In light of this stark reality, the National Building Museum presents a multimedia exhibition titled Designing for Disaster, a call-to-action for citizen preparedness—from design professionals and local decision-makers to homeowners and school kids. The exhibition explores strategies local leaders are currently pursuing to reduce their risks and build more disaster-resilient communities. The exhibition will open May 11, 2014 and remain on view through August 2, 2015. Visitors to Designing for Disaster will explore new approaches in design and engineering to protect life and property against a range of natural hazards. The exhibition will be organized by the destructive forces associated with each of the elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Artifacts from past disasters, such as a door marked after Hurricane Katrina,[…]

  • IPCC Issues 3rd Report on Climate Change

    22 Apr 2014 | 3:56 pm

    IPCC Issues 3rd Report on Climate Change It is hard to keep up with the many reports and the various versions of the International Panel on Climate Change. I defer to this description from the HSDL about them.  See this tidy summary: IPCC Releases Working Group III’s Report on Climate Change

  • New Type of Threat – a Creeping Landslide

    22 Apr 2014 | 10:46 am

    New Type of Threat – a Creeping Landslide This article about Jackson, WY provides an interesting look at the phemonemon of a landslide, since one can watch this one as it occurs in slow motion.  See;:Creeping landslide devouring part of Wyoming town As is true of the fast moving landslide, as recently experienced by Oso, Washington, questions about whether or not such events are triggered by man-made actions abound.

  • Feds Have a Change in Mind for Sandy Recovery Money for NJ and NY

    21 Apr 2014 | 8:12 am

    Feds Have a Change in Mind for Sandy Recovery Money for NJ and NY I just posted an article about what the new mayor of NYC has in mind to expedite the recovery from H. Sandy. It notes that the mayor  was assuming not only the federal dollars pledged to date but was planning to request another $1B to accomplish the expeditious actions he outlined. Today in the Wall St. Journal, an article suggested that not only will the states of NY and NJ not get more money, they will not get the full amount allocated to date.  I invite corrections if I am wrong. See: More Than $1 Billion in Superstorm Sandy Aid Could Leave Region; New York, New Jersey Lawmakers Call for Disaster Relief to Remain in Area. Here are some excerpts: More Than $1 Billion in Superstorm Sandy Aid Could Leave Region New York, New Jersey Lawmakers Call for Disaster Relief to Remain in Area By Laura Kusisto and Josh Dawsey Wall Street Journal April 20, 2014 Federal officials are considering spending more than $1 billion of the remaining $3.6 billion of rebuilding aid on disasters other than superstorm Sandy, money that New York and New Jersey are banking on to finish repairs to thousands of homes and complete major infrastructure projects. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is in charge of distributing the aid, believes that spreading the funds around to disasters other than Sandy is required by federal law, according to people familiar with the matter. New York officials dispute that interpretation. Note that HUD is responsible[…]

  • NYC Promises To Expedite Sandy Recovery

    21 Apr 2014 | 4:23 am

    NYC Promises To Expedite Sandy Recovery From the Wall St. Journal: New York Mayor Pledges to Fix City’s Sandy Recovery Programs. Some excerpts: At least 500 New York City homes damaged by superstorm Sandy would be rebuilt and 500 reimbursement checks would be issued to storm victims by the end of this summer, under a new recovery plan outlined by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday. “We want to put forward clear, strong goals, and we want to be held to them,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference on Staten Island. “I’m holding myself accountable, and the whole team accountable…. If we’re not reaching people tangibly, we’re not doing our job.” Mr. de Blasio released a 33-page report that his aides described as an overhaul of the city’s Sandy recovery programs. They see it as an official reset in the wake of complaints from frustrated storm victims and elected officials who say City Hall has been heavy on promises and short on results. To date, the city has been awarded $3.22 billion in federal “community development block grant disaster relief” funding, including $1.45 billion specifically for the city’s Build it Back program, which serves homeowners, owners of rental buildings and low-income renters. Aides to the mayor said all of the new initiatives are fully funded, but the city is seeking an additional $1 billion from the federal government for other Sandy-related needs. Note that his plans include another major cash infusion from the federal government. ____________________________________________ Additional articles about H. Sandy recovery are available[…]

  • Emergency Medicine– positive learning after Boston Marathon Bombing

    18 Apr 2014 | 3:16 pm

    Emergency Medicine– positive learning after Boston Marathon Bombing It is always good to see that tragic events can result in positive outcomes and better readiness for the future. See: A year after marathon bombs, Boston hospitals apply lessons learned Two more sources of info: Podcast: Response to Boston Marathon Bombing from the National Association of County & City Health Officials. In NACCHO’S latest podcast, staff member Ian Goldstein interviews Director for the Office of Public Health Preparedness at the Boston Public Health Commission Atyia Martin. Listen as they discuss the health response to the Boston Marathon Bombing. Strong Medicine: the Healing Response to the 2013 Marathon Bombing. Harvard University Center for the History of Medicine is collecting and sharing images, stories and more from the medical community’s experience of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing. They are currently seeking content that will be held by the Center, as well as shared on their website.          

  • Retro Report – video re earthquake readiness

    17 Apr 2014 | 2:23 pm

    Retro Report – video re earthquake readiness Promises of Preparedness followed Devastation Earthquake and Yet… This posting from the NYT Retro Report on the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta quake generated several comments from readers. (1) Jay Wilson of Oregon noted that it prominently features Oregon’s influence from the California experience and also has Dennis Mileti discussing social science and preparedness. (2) From several readers affiliated with the Natural Hazards Mitigation Association, these comments:Our thanks to Janiele Maffei and Mariann Knoy from the California Earthquake Authority for supplying information on the California Residential Mitigation Program.  While the article and especially the accompanying video is absolutely splendid, they would have been ever better if they  mentioned that: The California Residential Mitigation Program (CRMP) conducted a pilot retrofit program called Earthquake Brace + Bolt: Funds to Strengthen Your Foundation in select neighborhoods in Oakland and Los Angles, California. The goal of the Earthquake Brace + Bolt Pilot Program is to decrease the physical and financial damage of earthquakes on soft-story single-family residential houses. A typical retrofit can cost between $2,000 to $10,000 depending upon the size of the house and the amount of work involved. The Pilot Program provides up to $3,000 to pre-qualified homeowners who make simple earthquake retrofits to help protect their largest investment and their loved ones. The pilot is currently under evaluation which will be used to inform program expansion efforts. For more information on the Earthquake Brace + Bolt Program, go on-line to:  Some discussion of the Nisqually Earthquake mitigation efforts under[…]

  • Recovery Outcomes in Christchurch, NZ

    17 Apr 2014 | 5:42 am

    Recovery Outcomes in Christchurch, NZ Christchurch has been recovering from a massive earthquake in 2011.  Here are a couple of articles about how victims and those working to help them have been faring in the nearly four years since then. Earthquake Stress Plea to Insurers Also within the link noted, in the left-hand column, see another article about recovery titled Christchurch, A Tale of Two Cities Thanks to Ian McLean for providing the citation.Filed under: New Zealand, Reconstruction

  • The Business Community’s Take on Resilience

    16 Apr 2014 | 12:58 pm

    The Business Community’s Take on Resilience I am not sure why I was surprised, but I noted with interest the cover of the April edition of the Harvard Business Review, which features an article titled, The Resilient Company; How to Thrive in a Warmer World. An excerpt follows: Though companies today face many global-scale challenges—from destabilizing demographic shifts to the threat of financial system collapse—extreme weather caused by climate change and increasing limits on resources are both having an unprecedented impact, threatening corporate profits and global prosperity. These “megachallenges” will require companies to fundamentally rethink their strategies and tactics. To manage them, all parts of society—government and public institutions, the private sector, and citizens—must act in concert. But business, with its financial and material resources and unique innovativeness and talent, must lead the way. As you would expect, the article provides a sophisticated discussion and analysis aimed at business leaders. I recommend it.  Filed under: Resilience

  • 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 disaster.[…]

  • 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[…]

  • Emergency Preparedness for Foodies: Arizona DEM has the Right Recipe

    25 Sep 2013 | 12:36 pm

    Emergency Preparedness for Foodies: Arizona DEM has the Right Recipe Post by: Kim Stephens As National Preparedness Month comes to a close I had an opportunity to check in on the Emergency Kit Cook-Off Contest, sponsored by Arizona State Division of Emergency Management. My mission: Determine the recipe required to cook up a great preparedness campaign (insert canned laughter here). For those of you who have not heard of their contest, they describe it to potential participants on the cook-off website as follows: The Emergency Kit Cook-Off is a participatory preparedness activity inspired by the nonperishable contents of a 72-hour emergency food kit. The Kit Cook-Off encourages play with preparedness principles. More to the point, the Kit Cook-Off challenges you to find creative use for the three day’s worth of food and potable water that you squirreled away for the family in case of an emergency. So take a look in your pantry and get cooking. The website includes multiple entry points for people to participate. For instance, they can do some or all of the following: vote on the ingredients to be included contest (this is done prior to September);  create a recipe designed with the non-perishable ingredients chosen by the voters (recipe submissions are taken  all year); peruse recipes and preparedness tips offered by other citizens; and/or provide a preparedness tip.  The variety of involvement opportunities is a great way to engage people who have varying interests and abilities. There are even tangible rewards–if someone enters a recipe they will receive an apron. Recipe I interviewed Ethan Riley, a PIO at Arizona DEM and Cook-Off[…]