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Cori Sweeney

Ms. Sweeney is a senior consultant with SRA International Strategy and Performance Group who has worked in the alerts and warnings space for several years. As part of her work with the Department of Homeland Security, she has had the opportunity to engage federal, state, and local agencies; the private sector; and academic institutions to improve alerts and warnings. She is currently working to envision what alerts and warnings will look like in the next 5-10 years. Previously, Ms. Sweeney worked in marketing for a consumer products start-up and Fortune 500 company.

Source:  House.gov

Source: House.gov

This year’s presidential inauguration marks a historical landmark for emergency management. For the first time ever, organizers will have dedicated staff monitoring tweets and other social media outlets to help manage crowds gathering in Washington D.C. This is one of several initiatives outlined in a comprehensive crowd management plan for the 2013 inaugural ceremonies. Chaired by U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) designed the plan to address issues from the 2009 inauguration, when many ticketholders missed the ceremonies because they were stuck in an underground pedestrian tunnel and turned to Twitter and other social media sites to communicate about the issue. While local, state and federal agencies have used social media for situational awareness in the past, this is the first time presidential inauguration staff has been dedicated to monitoring social media for the purposes of real time crowd control.  This year also marks the first time the JCCIC will use Facebook to share event information with the public. Continue reading »

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The National Weather Service (NWS) is seeking comments from the public regarding simplified and clarified headline language for winter weather hazards. The demonstration is part of NWS’s Weather-Ready Nation initiative, with the goal of ensuring hazard messages are as clear and understandable as possible. The demonstration is driven by feedback from previous surveys, NWS service assessments, and user interactions indicating the public may be confused about the meaning and intent of the NWS’s “watch,” “warning,” and “advisory” terminology. Continue reading »

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2013 should be a big year for mobile data as more people are expected to access the internet from their mobile devices than from their desktops next year. Smartphone and tablet options continue to proliferate and become more affordable than ever, and a growing number of people are opting to purchase these devices. In fact, more American adults own smartphones than simpler feature phones now, with households earning less than $30,000 annually being the fastest growing income segment of smartphone users in the past year.

This infographic from The Economist details the shift to mobile data:

Continue reading »

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Rise of the Machines: The Use of Drones in Public Safety

On October 17, 2012, in News, by with SRA International

Customs and Border Protection Drone (Source: Texas Governor’s Office)

Nelson County, North Dakota Sheriff Kelly Janke knew he had a problem. While trying to serve an arrest warrant on an area farm this summer, he was chased away by three armed men brandishing rifles.

Afraid of what could be a very dangerous standoff, he called in back up. On the ground, North Dakota State Highway Patrol, a regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, ambulances, and deputy sheriffs from three other counties took their positions.  Meanwhile, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Predator spy drone outfitted with sophisticated sensors scanned the 3,000 acre property from the air. Once the drone located the suspects and determined they were unarmed, reinforcements on the ground moved in and made the arrests without incident. While drones have played a more prominent role in military operations overseas, this was one of the first arrests of a U.S. citizen using the assistance of a drone. Continue reading »

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Picture from B. Monginoux / www.Landscape-Photo.net

Recently, a band of severe storms made its way from the Midwest to the East Coast, leading the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue a tornado warning to parts of Maryland.  Nearly five minutes after NWS issued their warning, the University of Maryland (UMD) campus alert system issued a tornado warning message to its subscriber base.  This delay is the subject of a recent article published by UMD’s student-run newspaper, The Diamondback.  The article, a first-hand account from the author, highlights the importance of receiving timely alerts and warnings.  In this case, the author received the alert message from various applications on his phone before he received the campus alert message.  Sometimes having more than one “tool in the toolbox” helps the public get the information they need in a timely fashion. Continue reading »

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