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

  • UN Summit on Climate Change – Sept. 23 in NYC

    22 Sep 2014 | 4:59 pm

    UN Summit on Climate Change – Sept. 23 in NYC Direct link to the UN info:  UN Climate Change Summit set for Sept. 23 in NYC Article from National Geographic:  Ahead of UN Climate Summit, Global Treaty on Warming Looks Unlikely. What to watch for at this week’s global meeting in New York

  • HIgh Turnover and Other Big Problems at DHS

    22 Sep 2014 | 5:41 am

    HIgh Turnover and Other Big Problems at DHS From the front page of the Washington Post: Top-level turnover makes it harder for DHS to stay on top of evolving threats. Excerpts: An exodus of top-level officials from the Department of Homeland Security is undercutting the agency’s ability to stay ahead of a range of emerging threats, including potential terrorist strikes and cyberattacks, according to interviews with current and former officials. Over the past four years, employees have left DHS at a rate nearly twice as fast as in the federal government overall, and the trend is accelerating, according to a review of a federal database. The departures are a result of what employees widely describe as a dysfunctional work environment, abysmal morale, and the lure of private security companies paying top dollar …. NOTES: The Diva got this link from HLSWatch blog. The author of the posting, Christian Beckner, also has some comments of his own in another blog – that of the GWU Homeland Security Institute that are worth reading. Interesting that FEMA is not mentioned at all in this article. But their executives must be stressed by the overall environment.Filed under: DHS

  • Useful Analysis of Blogging

    21 Sep 2014 | 7:38 am

    Useful Analysis of Blogging Although the writer is a financial columnist, and major league blogger (30,000 posts!), his analysis of the features of blogging are interesting to those of us who also ply the trade. See:  After 30,000 posts, Big Picture blogger has figured a few things out.  

  • New GAO Report on Critical Infrastructure

    20 Sep 2014 | 7:34 am

    New GAO Report on Critical Infrastructure Critical Infrastructure Protection: DHS Action Needed to Enhance Integration and Coordination of Vulnerability Assessment Efforts [Reissued on September 17, 2014]. Some excerpts from the report: Damage from natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy in 2012 highlights the vulnerability of the nation’s CI. CI includes assets and systems whose destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, or national public health or safety. The private sector owns the majority of the nation’s CI, and multiple federal entities, including DHS, are involved in assessing its vulnerabilities. These assessments can identify factors that render an asset or facility susceptible to threats and hazards. GAO was asked to review how federal entities assess vulnerabilities. This report examines the extent to which DHS is positioned to (1) integrate DHS vulnerability assessments to identify priorities, (2) identify duplication and gaps within its coverage, and (3) manage an integrated and coordinated government-wide assessment approach. GAO reviewed CI laws, regulations, data from fiscal years 2011-13, and other related documentation, as well as interviewed officials at DHS, other agencies, and a private CI association. What GAO Recommends: GAO recommends that DHS identify the areas assessed for vulnerability most important for integrating and comparing results, establish guidance for DHS offices and components to incorporate these areas into their assessments, ensure that assessment data are consistently collected, and work with other federal entities to develop guidance for what areas to include in vulnerability assessments, among other things. DHS concurred with these recommendations.

  • Evacuation from Disasters on Foot

    20 Sep 2014 | 5:32 am

    Evacuation from Disasters on Foot The Pedestrian Evacuation Analyst—Geographic Information Systems Software for Modeling Hazard Evacuation Potential The Pedestrian Evacuation Analyst is an ArcGIS extension that estimates how long it would take for someone to travel on foot out of a hazardous area that was threatened by a sudden event such as a tsunami, flash flood, or volcanic lahar.  It takes into account the elevation changes and the different types of landcover that a person would encounter along the way.

  • New Resilience Report – from OECD

    19 Sep 2014 | 5:59 am

    New Resilience Report – from OECD Building a Roadmap to Resilience: Tools for field people: Everybody is talking about resilience. The idea that people, institutions and states need the right tools, assets and skills to deal with an increasingly complex, interconnected and evolving risk landscape, while retaining the ability to seize opportunities to increase overall well-being, is widely accepted. This document provides a step by step approach to resilience systems analysis, a tool that helps field practitioners to: •    prepare for, and facilitate, a successful multi- stakeholder resilience analysis workshop •    design a roadmap to boost the resilience of communities and societies •    integrate the results of the analysis into their development and humanitarian programmingFiled under: Resilience

  • Two Notable Reports from the World Bank Conference on Recovery

    18 Sep 2014 | 6:58 pm

    Two Notable Reports from the World Bank Conference on Recovery The World Bank Conference, details of which I noted last week, was interesting and provided a wide array of views and experiences. Two of the the reports I acquired that I think are notable are: (1) Area Business Continuity Management; Scalable Cross Sector Coordination Framework of Disaster management for Business Continuity. Japan International Cooperation Agency. [16 pp; no date.] and (2) Guide to Developing Disaster Recovery Frameworks: World Reconstruction Conference Version, Sept. 2014. (100 pages) Source: GFDRR.Filed under: Research Links, Research Studies and Documents

  • HUD to Launch Competition for Disaster Resilience Money

    18 Sep 2014 | 6:06 am

    HUD to Launch Competition for Disaster Resilience Money I have heard this twice before; hopefully, the third time is the charm! From the Asbury Park (NJ) Press: HUD launches competition for disaster resilience money. States and localities recovering from natural disasters, including Superstorm Sandy, can begin competing for a portion of nearly $1 billion in grants to recover from those disasters and protect themselves against future ones, the nation’s top housing official said Wednesday. Here is the direct link to the HUD website for more details. Update on Sept. 19th: today the Rockefeller Foundation announced they will be collaborating with HUD on this new initiative.

  • Further Discussion of “Disaster Recovery Is a National Disgrace”

    17 Sep 2014 | 1:55 pm

    Further Discussion of “Disaster Recovery Is a National Disgrace” Guest Posting from an experienced EM practitioner, and former co-director of the EM Forum, Ms Avagene Moore. [This is a follow on to the posting done last week with title noted above.] Einstein also said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This can be applied to all aspects of the disaster business as well as all institutions of society. There are many well-seasoned and experienced disaster professionals in the field world-wide. Unfortunately, we lack a way of channeling, compiling and making the most of that expertise and real-world knowledge. We continue to talk about the gap between research and practitioners but make little if any headway in bringing them together to benefit the disaster business. We nibble around the edges of situations, skirt the issues and rarely get to the core of the problems. Personally, I have to believe there is a way and I know there is a pressing need to change the perspective and culture of this multi-billion dollar disaster industry. After 40 years in the emergency management field, my questions are: 1) Are we as the disaster community, at all levels, honest enough – dare I say thick-skinned enough – to examine ourselves and see the good, bad and the ugly? Having done that — 2) How do we courageously speak as one collective knowledgeable voice that is loud enough to be heard and make a difference?

  • Update on the Blog’s Status

    16 Sep 2014 | 6:10 pm

    Update on the Blog’s Status NOTE on Sept. 17th:  Thanks to the loyal fans and supporters for their comments yesterday. At issue is the fact that about 350 people have signed up for a daily feed, but only about 20 have made a contribution during the past year. It has been my hope that a blog that offers news, information, and informed commentary would fill a need and be sustainable.  It seems the first part is easier than the second! ———————————————————————————– After a few days of contemplation and some consultations with colleagues, the Diva has decided that this blog cannot generate the support to make it approach a self-sufficient enterprise. She will continue to produce it for a while longer and hope for donations for partial support. Comments and observations from readers are invited.  

  • 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[…]