Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Why don't they flee?

Gary Wolf has a fascinating article in Wired magazine titled Reinventing 911. The article provides an insightful analysis of the failure of disaster response in this country despite the best of intentions and gobs of money being thrown at the problem.

During a large disaster, like Hurricane Katrina, warnings get hopelessly jumbled. The truth is that, for warnings to work, it's not enough for them to be delivered. They must also overcome that human tendency to pause; they must trigger a series of effective actions, mobilizing the informal networks that we depend on in a crisis. |Wired|


An innovative program in Portland, Oregon is taking a metadata scheme for disaster and crime information and making it open to the public to download and upload information.

As a disaster nerd and a library geek, I think the disaster and crime metadata protocol discussed is interesting and innovative, but the whole article is worth a read.

The Common Alerting Protocol, designed by Botterell in discussion with scores of other disaster experts. CAP gives precise definitions to concepts like proximity, urgency, and certainty. Using CAP, anyone who might respond to an emergency can choose to get warnings for their own neighborhood, for instance, or only the most urgent messages. Alerts can be received by machines, filtered, and passed along. The model is simple and elegant, and because warnings can be tagged with geographical coordinates, users can customize their cell phones, pagers, BlackBerries, or other devices to get only those relevant to their precise locale. The EDIS system proved itself in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, carrying more than 2,000 news releases and media advisories, and it has only grown more robust in the decade since. |Wired|

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