Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

July 30, 2014

White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Demo Day

Filed under: Technology for HLS — by Arnold Bogis on July 30, 2014

Yesterday the White House hosted the Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Initiative Demo Day.  What exactly? Elaine Pittman from Emergency Management magazine explains:

Emergency managers converged with the tech community in Washington, D.C., to discuss tools that can create more resilient communities and also positively impact disaster preparedness, response and recovery. The White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Initiative Demo Day on July 29 showcased new innovations in both government and the private sector that aim to aid the survivors of large-scale emergencies.

The key goal is to “find the most efficient and effective ways to empower survivors to help themselves,” said U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, adding that there have been many technological advancements since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Ms. Pittman provides a list of companies and government agencies that announced their work during the event.

CITY72 TOOLKIT — San Francisco launched an open source tool based off its emergency preparedness portal, SF72 portal. The City72 Toolkit helps emergency managers create their own site, while benefiting from lessons learned by San Francisco. Kristin Hogan Schildwachter, external affairs specialist for the city’s Department of Emergency Management, said current messaging focuses on pushing people to extremes and doesn’t build on current tools that the public is already using to communicate. The customizable Web platform is also in use in Johnson County, Kan., and branded as JoCo72.

AIRBNB — The sharing economy platform used to locate a place to stay now has memorandums of understanding in place with Portland, Ore., and San Francisco to work with the cities before, during and after an emergency. Airbnb’s director of public policy and civic partnerships, Molly Turner, outlined the four parts of the partnership:

  1. to identify hosts who will house emergency workers and survivors;
  2. to provide preparedness materials to hosts;
  3. to provide emergency alerts to hosts and their guests about hazards; and
  4. to provide community response training to hosts, helping them to become community leaders.

POWER OUTAGE DATA — Going forward, a number of electric companies will publish their power outage and restoration data in a standard format so that tools like Google Crisis Map can make the information easily accessible to the public. During Hurricane Sandy, this information wasn’t openly available, leading Google to post links to the different utilities’ sites but not being able to incorporate it into its information, according to Nigel Snoad of the company’s Crisis Response and Civic Innovation arm. He also said another addition is that Google will include crowdsourcing capabilities in the Crisis Map.

LANTERN LIVE — Inspired by lessons learned from Sandy where situational awareness was lacking, particularly around the status of fuel and which gas stations were open, the U.S. Department of Energy is preparing to beta test Lantern Live, a new mobile app. Its features will include: the status of gas stations; the ability to report a power outage and downed power lines with geolocated information; and emergency preparedness tips.

DISASTER ASSISTANCE AND ASSESSMENT DASHBOARD — Appallicious launched a new disaster dashboard that aims to make rebounding after devastation more manageable. Get an in-depth look at the Disaster Assessment and Assistance Dashboard.

GEOQ — The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency announced its crowdsourcing tool, GeoQ, which allows users to upload geo-tagged photos of an area impacted by an emergency. Raymond Bauer, the agency’s technology lead, said the tool is available for anyone to participate or work with the code via open source.

NOW TRENDING ON TWITTER — Helping emergency managers and public health officials, a new website, nowtrending.hhs.gov, searches Twitter data for health and natural disaster topics and analyzes that data. Karen DeSalvo, national coordinator for health IT, said the tool scours social media and looks for topics that could turn into public health emergencies.

DISASTER DATA — Coming soon, the new site disaster.data.gov aims to become a resource for preparedness and can also be used during and after an emergency. More than 100 tools from the public and private sectors have been submitted for inclusion on the site, and it will also host disaster-related data sets.

I don’t believe this is the entire event, but here is a video that the White House posted on YouTube:

UPDATE: Never mind about that video.  I watched earlier this evening, but apparently the White House has taken it off of YouTube and their own website.  And while the event itself was webcast live, apparently it is too sensitive to let a recording remain on the internet.  Obviously, as it dealt with homeland security issues, it was determined to be FOUO…

UPDATE 2: Obviously, my biting sarcastic comments shamed the Administration to re-post video of the event…or, just perhaps, they experienced some technical difficulties earlier (cough, Obamacare website, cough…) and they have now fixed things and are sharing the presentations from the day. They are rather interesting and worth your time to watch.

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2 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 31, 2014 @ 7:12 am

On balance does technology enhance RESILIENCE or undermine it?

Is the WH the nation’s EOC? If not should it be?

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 31, 2014 @ 7:13 am

Is the WH the nation’s JIC? If not should it be?

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