Posts Tagged ‘Disaster Communications’

Hire a Veteran!

January 28, 2012 Comments off

Sheppard AFB, Texas

Hello to my friends, colleaques, Twitter followers and blog readers.

That picture to the left is of me when I was a very young USAF service member (laughing at the hair, glasses or fashionable business suit is allowed-Gads). That’s an Autovon 490L Switching System.

There are more than 26 million veterans in the US. And, I am one of the 6 million women who served our country.  I served in the USAF in a technical capacity right after the Vietnam war had just ended (more stats here).  As you can see in the photo, I was the only female in my training class. I had to wear men’s cotton fatigues, shirts (and boots) which had to be starched each and every single day.  Check out the shine on those boots! After I graduated from tech school, I was shipped to England for a few years, where I was one woman out of about 90 men working at small communications switching site in England.  A great deal has changed since those early days.

But, I do believe the women of our time who served, learned early to work hard with the hope of contributing and making it in a tough environment.  Below are some statistics about our veterans.

Over the course of my life, I have continued to expand and hone my career relative to communications in some form or another as the times have changed. And, I have adapted with the changing times.

Since signing up on Wordress, I’ve been providing a plethora of user generated content about social media and communication related topics for a couple of years now,  because I really want to help people.

With the economic downturn , this recession is a tough environment to find jobs, and doubly tough for  veterans as well.

I’d appreciate it if you’d consider hiring a veteran, as well as work with other small Veteran-owned businesses. We  really do know how to get the job done, and we are mission oriented.

I am willing to provide consulting, 1099 and sub-contract support. Heck, at this stage I will simply take a few good hours of solid work to advise other small businesses.

With a few hours of my time, I can be invaluable in helping with your outreach and social media strategy.


Got QR? Better Yet, GOT Q_PR?

February 17, 2011 1 comment

Alice's QPR Code

What's Does It Say?

How’d you use QR codes in PR? Marketing? Emergency Preparedness? 
Now, I have got to say that this IS cutting edge stuff with regards to exploring how to apply them to various new opportunities.  Disconnect your Desktop, the TV and submit you cool ideas here in the comment section.  In short, QR Codes are a cell phone readable bar code that can store phone numbers, URL’s, email addresses and pretty much any other alphanumeric data. Storing up to 4296 characters they are internationally standardised under ISO 18004. Think “print-based hypertext links” and you’ll start to get the idea.
A QR Code (it stands for “Quick Response”) is a mobile phone readable barcode that’s been big in Japan forever, broke into Eurpoe a while back, and is now getting traction in USA. In it’s simplest sense think “print based hypertext link” – simply encode a URL into the QR Code and then point a mobile phone (or other camera-enabled mobile) at it. If the device has hadQR Code decoding software installed on it, it will fire up its browser and go straight to that URL.

But it doesn’t stop there – a QR Code can also contain a phone number, an SMS message, V-Card data or just plain alphanumeric text, and the scanning device will respond by opening up the correct application to handle the encoded data appropriately courtesy of the FNC1 Application Identifiers that are embedded in the encoded data.

The technical specifications for a QR Code are set down in the ISO-18004 standard so they are the same all over the world, and the only signifcant variations from one QR code to another (apart from the data it contains) is the number of modules required to store the data. A Version 1 QR Code is a 21×21 array of data elements with the array increasing in size by 4 modules for each increase in version number. The largest standard QR Code is a Version 40 symbol that 177×177 modules in size and can hold up 4296 characters of alphanumeric data (theoretically) compared to 25 characters for a Version 1 QR Code.

While there is still a lot of room for improvement, the resolution of average present-day cell phone camera other camera enabled portable devices is such that the size of the data modules (dots) on a QR Code of Version 5 or above (37×37) presents a real risk of incorrect decoding of the symbol by the device. When creating a QR Code intended for use with mobile phones it’s best to stick to Version 4 or lower, and a QR Code symbol of at least 2cm (0.85inches) across.

More Information. For more information about QR Codes, try these sites:

 And a few videos to explain QR Codes…


Typhoon? What Would You Do? Are Your Prepared?

October 18, 2010 Comments off

Super-Typhoon Megi is hitting the Phillipines as I write this post. Thousands of people in the Philippines have fled from their homes ahead of a powerful storm, Super-Typhoon Megi, which is expected to reach the north of the country early on Monday. Megi, which has winds of up to more than 200km/h (125mph), is then forecast to move towards the South China Sea.

More to the point, what if that sort of scenario hit us here in the DC region? Florida? TX coast? California coast? What would you do? How would you take an active role in communicating to your family, and friends. If you are a young child or teen…you are not too young to get involved either.

It seems that only roughly 30% of the US population is prepared for any sort of emergency. And, only 20% have an emergency radio.

Why is it that we generally think it will happen to someone else and not ever “me” in some disconnected way?  

 Why is it we have time to play hours on some video game or Facebook Farmville “game” but seem to have no time to make an emergency plan for our self as an individual or for our family.  

Do you even know what the key hazard threats are for your town or county?  How would you motivate friends to prepare and prepare better?  If you are a teenager what would you do to make a change at your home? Your school? Your city or town?

1) The Maryland Natural Hazards Preparedness Guide is available for Download here (PDF).  See page 19! Useful stuff there!

2) NOAA National Weather Service Homepage  and Current Weather Alerts

3) Here are some picts of the 2005 hurricane related work in SW LA. What, if any things do you see that could make a difference?

4) General reading on Debris Flow Hazards

5) Here is a list of all the local Emergency Offices by State, check your local office and know where it is located.

6) Be better prepared visit  How would you change this site so more people would prepare or share the information more effectively?  How would you communicate it better to your immediate circle of family and friends?

7) Buy a Red Cross certified already made emergency preparedness  kit (I know the owner as I met him at a Gov Conference in 2007) His is a service disabled veteran owned business, which I also support our vets!

8) Visit the Maryland Emergency Management Agency or your state’s own page

9) Sign Up for CAPALERT if you live or work in the DC area. Be among the first to know about emergencies

I would be interested to know what your creative and 0r useful ideas are! Really!!

I encourage you to commit a weekend to updating telephone numbers, buying emergency supplies and reviewing your emergency plan with everyone. Make an online plan here and print it out and give it to your family  members

Twitter Fast Follow for Crisis Communications?

October 14, 2010 Comments off

In August Twitter announced Fast Follow, a new way for citizens to subscribe to Tweets via SMS even if they don’t have a Twitter account. 

 Could cities, and businesses save or earn big money using Twitter as their mobile alerting/”Call” Tree platform?

For example, if I text “follow StPeteFL” to 40404 I will start receiving every Tweet from St. Petersburg, FL as a text message on my phone.

That’s possibly quicker and easier than subscribing to most city alert programs, which often require your name, email, etc to be entered online. And, people don’t even have to know what Twitter is or how to use it – huge considering roughly 75% of the US is not Tweeting.

In Twitter’s blog announcing Fast Follow, they used NotifyNYC as an example
Could cities save big money using Twitter as their mobile alerting platform?
Mobile alerting is expensive. From phone company to service providers fees, it costs anywhere between 1 to 3 cents per message, passed on to municipalities in the form of annual agreements ranging from $10,000 to over $100,000 per year. If you don’t have that kind of money to spend (or want to start saving it), here’s how I would use Twitter Fast Follow as an alternative:
Create a unique Twitter account that you’ll just use for alerts, for example “follow MtgmryCntyMD” The shorter the better. Don’t plan on using this for your other updates like “See our video on the parking lot ribbon cutting.” Use it sparingly when you have something important to say so you’re not text pestering.
  1. Promote the message “Text “follow MtgmryCntyMD” Alert to 40404′ to get emergency alerts from Montgomery County, MD.” Put up some signs, add it to your website, get the local news to cover it, whatever.
  2. Tweet your message from your new account to blast out an alert. Every subscriber will receive a text message when you do this by way of Twitter’s feathery magic.
What are the downsides?
  1. Reliability. If Twitter could harpoon the fail “ship” and keep their service online 99% of the time (putting it on par with traditional alerting companies), one could rest easier using Twitter to power crisis alerting.  Of course, I wouldn’t recommend it now for “shooter on campus” alerts where seconds make a difference, but it would be fine for weather warnings, major road closures, etc., but heck people could tweet from a crisis scenario if they are able to get a word out.
  2. Feature set. Alerting companies provide a lot of useful features like transmission reports, message templates, geotargeting, etc. This doesn’t exist yet for Twitter, but it could?
My thanks for the original post By Chris Bennett on

Using MarCom, Biz & Gov 2.0 in new ways

October 14, 2010 1 comment

How woud you use the Eye-Fi card as a tool to streamline your family, business, or community disaster planning?

On the surface, it’s an innovative (what’s that mean?) wi-fi powered SD camera card that enables you to quickly geotag and upload images from your digital camera to sites like Flickr without tethering it to your computer or removing the SD card. Once your digital camera gets near your home wireless router, it can start uploading the pictures on it without getting your laptop involved. It’s pretty brilliant and was intended to be the sole topic of my crisis blog today.

If a first an emergency responder or anyone for that matter used an Eye-Fi to upload pictures of his family online, well that’s not too MarCom 2.0. What if he uploaded pictures of the station’s new fire engine for the town to see? Maybe a bit XX2.0, but missing the mark.
What if after a damaging storm he uploaded pictures of damage throughout the town to a central destination, and encouraged the public to do the same to quickly assess what needs to be fixed throughout the city?  To me, that’s Communications 2.0.
Now for those who love the tech, here’s how the above Eye-Fi for Crisis Response experiment turned out as test By Chris Bennit.
The equipment he used was a regular digital camera (Canon PowerShot), a Verizon MiFi card (creates a wireless hotspot anywhere for internet access) and an Eye-Fi Pro X2 card ($129). He says he could  have used the 4GB $69 Geo X2, but he opted for the 8GB version. After a quick configuration on his PC to have the Eye-Fi detect my MiFi as a wireless network and upload shots to his Flickr account, he was ready to hit the field and start taking pictures.

While visiting his parents in the Philadelphia area one weekend, he stepped outside and took this shot of a tree that crashed through a roof (well, a picture of a picture for some added punch). As soon as he took the photo, the Eye-Fi card began uploading to Flickr (view album) via the MiFi card in my pocket. By the time he went back inside and looked at the laptop, it was not only online, but geotagged with a location just 100 ft from the house.

He tried the same thing later that night from a rooftop garage in center city. The upload worked perfectly as well, but without location this time. The location is determined by nearby wireless networks and he figures  there weren’t many near the parking garage. Still, the picture was up in a jiffy.

After a crisis, whether you have workers sending pictures back to base through a private Flickr album, or opening it up to residents with a public album, the Eye-Fi is one great way to get high quality photos to a central location for evaluation.
What I like about this is while smart phones can do the same thing, I for one always wish I have a “real camera” for sending important pictures live from an event.
Here’s  a possible solution. Also exciting is that Eye-Fi announced an API (Application Programming Interface), meaning developers could create government-specific applications that do things like upload pictures to private agency servers.
Seems like a great project for business, communities, citizens, families and maybe even for some specific agencies to adopt.
Thanks Chris this is great stuff!
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