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

  • 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

  • OARS: Organizations Addressing Resilience and Sustainability -updated

    15 Apr 2014 | 5:00 pm

    OARS: Organizations Addressing Resilience and Sustainability -updated This is an update to the list previously shared. Full credit goes to Mr. Don Watson for his efforts in producing this useful 22-page listing of key organizations dealing with resilience and sustainability.  You can download the latest version of the document here:OARS 09. I hope you appreciate the fact that this is version 9, which means Don is very conscientious about this effort. Please note that this is an ongoing effort, and Don welcomes suggestions and additions. Please send them directly to  him at this email address: earthrise001@sbcglobal.netFiled under: Resilience

  • Resilient Cities Report – 3 Canadian Cities Top the List

    14 Apr 2014 | 11:58 pm

    Resilient Cities Report – 3 Canadian Cities Top the List Article in the Guardian about the report titled Resilient Urban Form and Governance Report. The link to the full report, which is 122 pages, is here.  From the lead in: The three most resilient cities? They’re all in Canada. Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary top a new report measuring the least vulnerable and most adaptive cities on the planet – while the high-growth cities of the Bric nations teeter precariously on the edge of danger Thanks to Ashutosh Madhukar for the link.  [You have to love the Internet: a gentleman in India reading the online version of the Guardian (UK), finds an article highlighting Canadian cities and sends it to U.S.- based blog!] QUESTION TO READERS:  The Diva has not yet had time to read this full report, but she is puzzled by the apparent conflict – 3 Canadian cities rank high on resilience, but just two weeks ago (April 1) this blog cited two reports lamenting the state of Canadian preparedness and readiness for natural disasters. Does anyone have an explanation?Filed under: Resilience

  • Landslides and Mudslides — a deeper analysis

    14 Apr 2014 | 9:00 am

    Landslides and Mudslides — a deeper analysis Prof. Rob Olshansky wrote in to provide some context for landslides and mudslides. He has been studying them for years and has published several papers on the topic. In reviewing the issues over the years he said: *** there are two main points to all of this. First, landslide insurance does not exist (except for the “mudslide” provision in NFIP, a curiosity which is explained in my longer law review paper). This means that when a landslide occurs, everyone sues everyone (of course, it’s worse if deaths are involved). For local governments, it ends up being distracting and expensive, whether or not they are at fault. Hence, my message to local governments is: do everything you can to avoid damaging landslides in your jurisdiction. The Oso landslide would be my illustration of what I mean by this. Second, if a landslide affects an existing subdivision, there are very few options. It’s hard to prevent others from building on lots in the subdivision. And it’s hard to fix the slide: everyone thinks that someone else should pay. My paper on landslide hazard mitigation looks at several possible financing structures (with estimates of dollar amounts at the time), including some ways to lure the insurers back into the game.  But landslides are too infrequent to attract sustained policy attention or the sustained attention of insurers, so nothing changes. A special thanks to Rob Olshansky, who is Head of the Dept. of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: He[…]

  • Cimate Action Needed – ASAP

    14 Apr 2014 | 5:16 am

    Cimate Action Needed – ASAP U.N. Climate Panel Warns Speedier Action Is Needed to Avert Disaster.  Intro begins: The countries of the world have dragged their feet so long on global warming that the situation is now critical, experts appointed by the United Nations reported Sunday, and only an intensive worldwide push over the next 15 years can stave off potentially disastrous climatic changes later in the century. Another version of the same report and warning, from the Wall St. Journal. Filed under: climate change

  • “Heartbleed” – the new technology threat

    13 Apr 2014 | 6:00 am

    “Heartbleed” – the new technology threat I just found a new item to add to my What Keeps Me Up at Night list.  It is this account in the Wall St. Journal of the new technology bug and the handful of people (literally) who are responsible for Internet security. See: Heartbleed Bug’s ‘Voluntary’ Origins; Internet Security Relies on a Small Team of Coders, Most of Them Volunteers; Flaw Was a Fluke. From the intro: The encryption flaw that punctured the heart of the Internet this week underscores a weakness in Internet security: A good chunk of it is managed by four European coders and a former military consultant in Maryland. On the practical side, here is some advice for actions that individuals can take to minimize or avoid the consequences of Heartbleed.  From the HuffPost: The Heartbleed Bug Goes Even Deeper Than We Realized — Here’s What You Should DoFiled under: Technology

  • Disaster Assessment and Assistance Dashboard in the works

    11 Apr 2014 | 6:29 am

    Disaster Assessment and Assistance Dashboard in the works From Emergency Management magazine, some details about a new Disaster Assessment and Assistance Dashboard, under development by a contractor for FEMA, is coming. It is to be piloted in San Francisco and the date of its public release is not given. I keep hearing accounts of dashboards under development. If any readers know of any systems that are operational, I would like to hear about them.  

  • The True Costs of Relief and Recovery – Hurricane Sandy

    10 Apr 2014 | 6:39 am

    The True Costs of Relief and Recovery – Hurricane Sandy For those of you interesting in the long-term recovery from Hurricane Sandy, here are two sites that may be of interest: The official federal site re expenditures re H. Sandy can be found here. A NJ state senator discusses the true costs of relief and recovery from Hurricane Sandy and suggests a better national system to assist those affected by a major disaster. See NJ Needs a New Way to Pay for Disaster Relief. Filed under: Federal funding, Financial aspects

  • Flood Insurance – a review

    9 Apr 2014 | 10:09 am

    Flood Insurance – a review Recently my posts have featured a retrospective on several topics, earthquake science, the condition of our infrastructure, and the like.  Here is a short, interesting history of flood insurance and moral hazards.  From The Hill, this article titled Natural floods, unnatural disasters The source I often go to for flood and flood insurance analyses is the Association of State Flood Plain Managers. Filed under: Floods

  • Earthquake Science – since 1964

    9 Apr 2014 | 2:43 am

    Earthquake Science – since 1964 See this NYT feature on the Alaska Earthquake and the Chile earthquakes. Those two places have the distinction of the largest magnitude earthquakes ever to affect the U.S. and the world. See also the blog posting by Eric Holdeman who discusses the Cascadia Fault in Washington state.    

  • 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[…]