We saw this announcement that the National Academies of Science will be hosting a workshop “to examine current knowledge and research on geotargeted disaster alerts and warnings” in Washington, DC, February 21-22. According to the posting by the National Academies’ Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, the workshop will bring together prominent researchers in risk communications, public notifications, and emergency management to discuss how more precise geo-targeting could make alerts and warnings more effective. Continue reading »

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A few weeks ago, the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) published a comprehensive literature review discussing what we now know about the public’s use of social media during disasters, as well as what areas remain for further research. The report, sponsored by the Resilient Systems Division of the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, raises some interesting questions that merit discussion among the homeland security and emergency management community. 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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The New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM) today announced that it will conduct a test of the Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS, also known as the Personal Localized Alerting Network or Wireless Emergency Alerts) with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, and Federal Communications Commission this Thursday, December 15th.

According to the press release (full text below this post), wireless carriers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon will participate in the test, in which OEM will send six test messages to test mobile devices across New York City between 10am and 3pm on Thursday. Continue reading »

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This is the final post in a series of 3 reports on the recent annual conference of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) held November 13-16 in Clark County, Nevada. See also Part 1 on CAP and Part 2 on CMAS at IAEM. 

There was much happening in the federal space at the IAEM conference. FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino’s major announcement in his opening keynote address was the unveiling of the FEMA Think Tank at www.fema.gov/thinktank.
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