“There’s a spectrum. On one end is mindless complacency. On the other is paranoia. The challenge is to find that place in the middle where you understand that bad things can happen, but it doesn’t consume your life.”
I have to confess a being more than a little dismayed when the author noted being surprised to hear Redlener say the authorities might not respond promptly in the event of a disaster – that everyone should be prepared to take care of themselves for several days. That is, in fact, part of the National Plan – that the entire community needs to take part in disaster preparedness and response. I guess theadvertisingcampaignhasn’tpaidoff…
Inauguration Day preparations have included adding temporary cell towers along the National Mall in an attempt to avoid the wireless traffic congestion witnessed during the 2009 inauguration. Event organizers have also mounted a public information campaign to encourage people to send text messages rather than call and to avoid watching streaming video of the event. As the infographic at left shows, an SMS text message requires much less data to send than, say, a picture or cellphone conversation. Emergency managers often see wireless traffic overwhelm cellular networks during large events, and this year’s inauguration will likely attract 2 million people.
A map of power outages as predicted by Guikema’s model based on the official National Hurricane Center track and intensity forecast from 18UTC (3 p.m. EDT) on Saturday, Oct. 27.
Johns Hopkins researcher Seth Guikema has used historical storm statistics to estimate that Hurricane Sandy will likely cause 10 million people to lose power, from Virginia Beach to New York City. Guikema’s model uses outage data from 11 hurricanes to estimate the fraction of customers who will lose power, based on expected gust wind speed, expected duration of strong winds greater than 20 meters per second, and population density.
The ready availability of data and model results on the Internet means that, with a little creativity, you can aggregate your own data and analyses into a useful tool. So, let’s say you can’t stand the ads in HurricaneSoftware.com’s iHurricane HD (free for iOS, Android, Windows Phone) and you can’t afford Kitty Code’s Hurricane. Well, ZDNet’s review of hurricane apps points out that you could emulate iPhoneEZApps’ Hurricane Tracker 3.6.1 ($1.99 for iOS) FOR FREE by simply opening the following URLs in the web browser of any PC, Mac, iOS or Android device:
That is, you can fake a decent hurricane tracking app using your phone/tablet’s browser to open the above links. You could do the same on your Mac or PC, with the added elegance of opening each link as a separate tab in web browser. And you can’t beat the price.
Hurricane by American Red Cross (free for iOS, Android) is a tracker app that lets you monitor conditions in your area, coaches you in preparing your family and home, and helps you notify others that you are safe. TIME’s review notes that it’s a light on meteorological data, but this app is designed for public safety, not analysis:
The American Red Cross’ Hurricane app works for Android, but your other choices for Android devices are limited to STKI Concepts’ Hurricane Hound ($1.99 for Android), which also received an Honorable Mention in in BestAppEver’s 2011 Best Weather App competition.
To commemorate the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina striking the U.S. Gulf Coast, the Washington Post examined 5 persistent myths about this hurricane and the destruction it left in New Orleans. This disaster killed 1836, displaced over 1.3 million people, and caused over $81 billion in damage in eastern North America, mostly in New Orleans and Gulf Coast Mississippi. Jed Horne of the Post lists these myths as:
New Orleans’s levees failed because Katrina was just too big. (Truth: The U.S. Army Corps and an American Society of Engineers Expert Review Panel concluded that the system of levees, floodgates, and pumps failed well below its design limits due to poor engineering and construction).
The state response was as bad as the federal one. (Truth: Kathleen Blanco declared a state disaster August 26, three days before landfall, and over the coming days would move 400,000 people out of New Orleans).
The storm gutted the heart and soul of New Orleans, turning it into a majority-white city. (Truth: The 2010 census shows the population of New Orleans declined about one-third, with a post-Katrina influx of hispanics reducing the city’s black majority from 67 percent to about 60 percent now).
Weather Underground, a internet weather data and analysis resource, has been sold to The Weather Channel Companies. After 17 years as an independent company, Jeff Masters, the founder of Weather Underground, announced on his blog that The Weather Channel bought Weather Underground, noting that The Weather Channel was committed to keeping the Weather Underground brand and the web site in its current form. While congratulations are in order for Jeff Masters, this is a widely used information source within the disaster response community, and many ask “what will change” and “will they start charging fees”. Let’s hope the answers are “not much” and “no”.
I just hope they don’t change the mobile version of their forecast site – its the only one that displays decently on my BlackBerry.
The International Network of Crisis Mappers (Crisismappers.net), founded by Patrick Meyer and Jen Ziemke, is a volunteer technical community leveraging mobile & web-based applications, participatory maps & crowdsourced event data, aerial & satellite imagery, geospatial platforms, advanced visualization, live simulation, and computational & statistical models to assist response to complex humanitarian emergencies. Crisismappers.net will be hosting the 4th International Conference of Crisis Mappers (ICCM) October 11-14, 2012 in Washington, DC. The draft agenda outlines what appears to be a useful and interesting collection of training sessions, presentations, and crisis response simulations. Volunteer Technical Communities are an emerging force in disaster response, and worth reading into for disaster junkies and geospatial professionals alike.