First Responder Mobility

Posted by – May 17, 2014

Recent research by the Center for Digital Government shows that slightly under half of surveyed emergency respondents said they lack access to smartphones and tablets that could provide up-to-the-minute communications and data vital to emergency response. The report, sponsored by VMWare, assesses law enforcement and first responders’ adoption of mobile technologies, their mobility challenges and what they hope to gain from current and future devices. The research suggests that, although the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 created FirstNet, an authority tasked with designing and building a national broadband network dedicated to emergency response, at this point, almost half of first responders would have to bring their own devices to access that network.

Note: On May 21, Emergency Management will host a free webinar discussing this research with its author, Joe Morris.


Maslow 2.0

Posted by – April 18, 2014

An Internet-era update to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:
With thanks to Björn for the tip!


My Network, Visualized

Posted by – March 31, 2014

The experts say effective networking begins with examining your existing network, so I thought I would see what InMaps, LinkedIn’s visualization tool, could reveal about my professional network. As you can see below, InMaps shows each of my connections as dots with lines showing how they are connected, colors denoting groups, and the dot’s size increasing with the number of cross-links within my network.
My LinkedIn Network

I was struck by how many of my connections are from my AAAS Fellowship in 2010 (blue); while these are valued contacts, it does prompt me to network outside of that group to expand my reach. You might note that my network is relatively small, (< 200 contacts), and that is because I find that can't keep up with a set much larger than this (probably related to Dunbar’s number, somehow).

LinkedIn has also developed Swarm, an animated word-cloud visualization of the most actively searched job titles and company names.


P.S. Thanks to Alex for the tip!


Posted by – March 9, 2014

Forest fires of great intensity, size, and consequence – megafires — are becoming the new normal, according to a paper in the journal of the Ecological Society of America by Stephens et al. The article, flagged by the Washington Post yesterday, attributes the increasing frequency of megafires to climate-change induced drought; housing developments encroaching on forests; and the U.S. policy to suppress fires rather than letting them burn naturally, reducing the brush that fuels future fires. An NPR series from 2012 provides more detail.

The above map, from the U.S. Forest Service’s excellent Wildland Fire Assessment System, shows the current Fire Danger Rating based on current and antecedent weather, fuel types, and both live and dead fuel moisture (the classes are explained here).


Adams’ Resolutions

Posted by – January 7, 2014

While sorting my priorities for the New Year, I’ve browsed the InterWebs for ideas and found lists of resolutions – some that are profound and others that are less so. To me, the greatest list of resolutions of all time remains John Adams’ from February of 1776 written as he travelled to the Continental Congress, listing the tasks for establishing a new nation as casually as I would list “Lose ten pounds”. Coincidentally, Scott Adams, the creator of the cartoon Dilbert, provides what I found to be a useful perspective New Year’s Resolutions, arguing that one should use knowledge rather than willpower to achieve your annual goals and get some happiness.

Happy New Year, and the best of luck with your list for 2014!


Best Use of a Drone

Posted by – December 28, 2013

In addition to their use by the military and potentially in emergency response, George Zisiadis and Mustafa Khan bring us the Mistletoe Drone, just in time for your New Year’s Eve party:

If you have $300 or so you can make your own romance drone, complete with video streaming (mistletoe is extra). But keep in mind that privately-operated drones are quasi-legal for the present, since the FAA is not expected to issue licenses for private drone operation until 2015.


This Christmas, Say It With Minerals

Posted by – December 19, 2013

In the spirit of the season, I reblog the Merry Christmas interactive infographic from the National Mining Association:
Minerals for Christmas
Previous year’s holiday edition posts included A Graphical Analysis of Christmas (2011) and The Economist’s Advent Calendar (2012).

(Happy Holidays)


The Tyranny of Jennifer

Posted by – December 1, 2013

To me, most data animations are just eye candy, but this animated map by Reuben Fischer-Baum is an exception. Fischer-Baum used Adobe Illustrator to assemble an animated gif of baby names from annual Social Security data to show the trend in time and space, telling a whole new story. Watching the animated GIF, you can see that female baby names often follow a pattern: a name springs up in some region of the U.S.—”Ashley” in the South, “Emily” in the Northeast — sweeps over the country, and falls out of favor nearly as quickly. The big exception to these baby booms and busts is “Jennifer”, which absolutely dominates America for a decade-and-a-half.

Now if you would color the states red and blue to show baby names by political party, too…


Crisis Camp for Haiyan Relief

Posted by – November 14, 2013

A group I follow, Understanding Risk, has posted a call for mapping assistance to support the typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan disaster relief efforts. They are recruiting volunteers to use OpenStreetMap to digitize roads, buildings, and other features from satellite imagery made freely available by Microsoft and the US State Department’s Humanitarian Information Unit. The resulting maps will be used by the Red Cross, the United Nations and other responding organizations working in the Philippines. To get started, you can:

- Visit the project coordination page for more information;

- Login to the OSM Tasking Manager (OpenStreetMap account required) and click on a task to contribute;

- For questions join the mailing list of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team; and

- If you are in DC, join the @OpenStreetMap at @CrisisCamp this Saturday, November 16.

In previous major disasters, efforts such as these have consistently proven to be valuable in support of disaster relief efforts.


50 Greatest Innovations?

Posted by – November 1, 2013

James Fallows of the Atlantic consulted with a panel of scientists and historians to select the 50 greatest innovations since the invention of the wheel. The resulting list – and article – is well worth reading and arguing over. Personally, I’d nominate the longbow or capitalism, as I can’t imagine history without these, but I can easily imagine history without Air Conditioning (44), even in Houston. The full article is available online, where you can also register your picks. Ordered from most to least, as ranked by the Atlantic’s panel of experts:

1. The printing press, 1430′s
2. Electricity, late 19th century
3. Penicillin, 1928
4. Semiconductor electronics, mid-20th century
5. Optical lenses, 13th century
6. Paper, second century
7. The internal combustion engine, late 19th century
8. Vaccination, 1796
9. The Internet, 1960s
10. The steam engine, 1712
11. Nitrogen fixation, 1918
12. Sanitation systems, mid-19th century
13. Refrigeration, 1850s
14. Gunpowder, 10th century
15. The airplane, 1903
16. The personal computer, 1970s
17. The compass, 12th century
18. The automobile, late 19th century
19. Industrial steelmaking, 1850s
20. The pill, 1960
21. Nuclear fission, 1939
22. The green revolution, mid-20th century
23. The sextant, 1757
24. The telephone, 1876
25. Alphabetization, first millennium b.c.
26. The telegraph, 1837
27. The mechanized clock, 15th century
28. Radio, 1906
29. Photography, early 19th century
30. The moldboard plow, 18th century
31. Archimedes’ screw, third century b.c.
32. The cotton gin, 1793
33. Pasteurization, 1863
34. The Gregorian calendar, 1582
35. Oil refining, mid-19th century
36. The steam turbine, 1884
37. Cement, first millennium b.c.
38. Scientific plant breeding, 1920s
39. Oil drilling, 1859
40. The sailboat, fourth millennium b.c.
41. Rocketry, 1926
42. Paper money, 11th century
43. The abacus, third millennium b.c.
44. Air-conditioning, 1902
45. Television, early 20th century
46. Anesthesia, 1846
47. The nail, second millennium b.c.
48. The lever, third millennium b.c.
49. The assembly line, 1913
50. The combine harvester, 1930s