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Number 602 • February 7, 2013 | Past Issues













Defending Against Digital Disaster: Pentagon Plans to Increase Cybersecurity Forces

As dependence on computers has grown, so have the odds that we could experience cyber-disruption of everything from our finances to air travel to electricity—and there’s surprisingly few bulwarks in place to stop it. The Pentagon, however, now seems poised to rectify that.

Plans to increase the Department of Defense Cyber Command by about 4,000 people—more than four times the amount currently staffed—were unofficially announced in the Washington Post and New York Times last week.

“The threat is real and we need to react to it,” William J. Lynn III, a former deputy defense secretary who worked on the Pentagon’s cybersecurity strategy, told the Times.

Although the plan isn’t yet final, officials speaking anonymously told the Post that the added resources would be divided into forces that protect national infrastructure such as electrical grids and power plants, those that use technology to aid combat missions, and others to defend Defense Department computer networks. The forces are expected to focus on overseas threats to military networks (unless asked to do domestic work by agencies such as the FBI), according to the Post’s anonymous official.

“There’s no intent to have the military crawl inside industry or private networks and provide that type of security,” the official said.

While there’s not much dissent on the need to address an increasing range of cyberthreats, there are concerns about how and when this vast new force will be employed.

“What concerns us is not the growth of forces but the way it is happening behind the scenes,” writes the editorial board of the Washington Post. “The U.S. Cyber Command is a military unit, but its chief, Gen. Keith Alexander, is also director of the National Security Agency, which is part of the intelligence community. So far, operations and deployments are being handled almost entirely in secret.”

The shadowy line between Cyber Command and NSA isn’t insignificant. As a military operation, Cyber Command counterterrorism measures need to be carried out under the rules of war, where NSA missions have wider authority to make secret strikes in non-war zones.

And if that wasn’t enough uncertainty, a “secret legal review” has determined the President has lots of leeway in launching a preemptive cyberstrike if an attack seems eminent, according to a New York Times story published Sunday. But don’t fear yet another anonymous official told the Times. The understanding is that cyberweapons are the new nukes.

“There are levels of cyberwarfare that are far more aggressive than anything that has been used or recommended to be done,” the Times quotes the official as saying. “There are very, very few instances in cyberoperations in which the decision will be made at a level below the president.”

While there may be good reason to fret about how missions are carried out in the absence of open, transparent policies, the addition of more forces to fight cybercrime is step in the right direction, officials say. Cyberterrorists don’t seem willing to wait for regulations to be put into place.

“Given the malicious actors that are out there and the development of the technology, in my mind, there’s little doubt that some adversary is going to attempt a significant cyberattack on the United States at some point,” Lynn told the Post. “The only question is whether we’re going to take the necessary steps…to deflect the impact of the attack in advance or…read about the steps we should have taken in some post-attack commission report.”

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Forget Building Back Better—How About Not Building at All?

When it comes to rebuilding coastlines decimated by Hurricane Sandy, New York governor Andrew Cuomo has a plan—don’t do it.

The tack is decidedly different from the usual post-hurricane building rhetoric, which often emphasizes construction measures meant to help homes weather the next storm. Instead, Cuomo wants coast dwellers to concede the battle.

“At one point, you have to say maybe Mother Nature doesn’t want you here,” he told the New York Daily News. “Maybe she’s trying to tell you something.”

For those ready to listen, Cuomo has proposed a broad buyout program that will give everyone from the newly homeless to the barely scathed a chance to vacate the coast.
The $400 million plan would offer pre-Sandy values for most homes, with owners in particularly vulnerable areas getting a bonus for clearing out, according to a New York Times report.

The reclaimed land could be employed for a number of uses—wetlands, public beaches, sand dunes—but could never be built on again, according to the Times. The plan, which would use money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development along with some of the $51 billion in Sandy relief funds, is still awaiting federal approval.

The buyout, if successful, could be a win-win for state and federal governments. Not only would they save money by not rebuilding homes in vulnerable areas, but the open swathes of coastline could act as storm buffers to protect property further inland.

“The main thing is to put some distance and some friction between places you’re trying to protect and the coast,” G. Paul Kemp, vice president of the National Audubon Society’s Gulf Coast Initiative told the Times in January. “You want to have some areas where if you have a surge and waves, they can dissipate energy before they get to the infrastructure you care about.”

State officials expect the Cuomo plan might get only get 10 to 15 percent of eligible takers, according to the most recent Times article. The rest are liable to hunker down and hang on to the shreds of their community. A lot of locals affected by the storm have indicated not only disinterest, but also anger at the prospect of selling their homes.

Despite that, Cuomo will press on.

“You have to be sensitive,” he to the Daily News. “I’m not saying anybody should sell, but you should think about it. And if you want to sell, we’ll have an option.”

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Disaster News Redux: BioWatch Program Under Fire

Last Watch: A program meant to keep Americans safe from airborne threats was under congressional scrutiny due to fears that the next generation of technology wouldn’t be able to produce useable results. Lawmakers in September had questioned whether the BioWatch program—a network that collects airborne particles and conducts daily tests for pathogens—should attempt to move forward after two generations of tepid results, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In the Air: Investigations by the House Energy and Commerce Committee have been thwarted in by the inability to view key documents, committee members told the Times last week. The committee has requested the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention turn over e-mails and documents from two CDC scientists known to have reservations about the accuracy of the program, including those of Toby L. Merlin, the head of the Division of Preparedness and Emergency Infections. Merlin had stated he considered the program to have produced false positives, according to the Times. BioWatch officials have repeatedly disputed claims of false positives.

Testing the Case: A spokesman for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told the Times that the office was reviewing the request for documents. In the meantime, the Department of Homeland Security last week moved ahead with a $3.1 billion draft request for proposals for the next generation of BioWatch. The final RFP is expected before June. Comments on the draft must be submitted by February 11.

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Apply Now for the Mary Fran Myers Scholarship

The Mary Fran Myers Scholarship Committee is now accepting applications. Recipients will receive financial support allowing them to attend the 2013 Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop in Broomfield, Colorado, July 13-16. Recipients may also stay through July 17 to attend either the International Research Committee on Disasters or the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association add-on events for researchers and practitioners, respectively. Scholarships can cover part or all of transportation, meals, and registration costs.

The Mary Fran Myers Scholarship is awarded annually to at least one potential Workshop participant. Recipients are recognized at the Workshop and may be asked to serve as panelists, where they can highlight their research or practical experiences with hazards and disasters.

As the longtime co-director of the Natural Hazards Center, Myers recognized that many of the people and organizations that could benefit from and contribute to the Workshop—including local practitioners, students, and international professionals—were among those least likely to afford it. The scholarship was established in 2003 to fulfill Myers’ request that qualified and talented individuals receive support to attend.

Hazards practitioners, students, and researchers with a strong commitment to disaster management and mitigation and who reside outside North America or the Caribbean are eligible to enter. Eligibility is based on current place of residence, not citizenship.

Applicants from North America and the Caribbean will be eligible for the scholarship in 2014. Previous attendees of the Natural Hazards Workshop are not eligible for the 2013 Mary Fran Myers Scholarship. Preference is given to those who can demonstrate financial need.

For more information on past scholarship winners and how to apply, visit the Mary Fran Myers Scholarship page at the Natural Hazards Center Web site. Applications must be received by April 1.

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Call Outs: Calls for Papers, Abstracts, Proposals, and More

Call for Abstracts
Emergency Management in a Changing World
International Association of Emergency Managers
Deadline: February 20, 2013
The International Association of Emergency Managers is accepting abstracts for presentation at its annual conference, Emergency Management in a Changing World, to be held October 25-30 in Reno, Nevada. Abstracts can be related to the four phases of emergency management, environmental impacts on the emergency management community, or ways in which the emergency management profession is changing. Authors must also submit a PowerPoint presentation of their talk. For full submission guidelines and a link to the online submission form, visit the conference Web site.


Call for Applications
Campus Resilience Pilot Program
Department of Homeland Security
Deadline: February 22, 2013
The Department of Homeland Security is accepting applications from U.S. colleges and universities to participate in its Campus Resilience Pilot Program. The program will aid college campuses in creating partnerships that enhance emergency preparedness and resilience planning. Six schools will be chosen to participate in the pilot program. For more information and how to apply, visit the DHS program webpage.


Call for Participation
2013 Emergency Management Performance Grant Survey
International Association of Emergency Managers
Deadline: February 22, 2013
The International Association of Emergency Managers is conducting a survey of local emergency managers to gain a better picture of activities supported by Emergency Management Performance Grants. Survey data will be used in a report to Congress about the need for EMPG funding. Only emergency managers at the county, city, township, or tribal level should participate. For more information, visit the survey Web site.

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Some New Web Resources

The Flu Near You
With one of the most serious flu seasons in decades sweeping the nation, it’s good to keep track of what bugs are going around your neighborhood. The Flu Near You is your chance to do that and give back, too. This collaboration between American Public Health Association and the Skoll Global Threats Fund lets users monitor flu symptoms in their area while they report their own—furthering understanding of flu and disease spread. A vaccine finder, disease alert emails, and public health links are also included in the site offerings.


Disaster Hero
Why be a disaster victim, when you can be a disaster hero? This online game will make sure the kids you care about are the latter. With a mix of action-based play and disaster quizzes, Disaster Hero is a fun way for children in grades 1-8 to learn what to do in a number of disaster situations, including tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods. Information and resources for parents and teachers assure Disaster Hero will be popular among the non-kids, too.


Coping with and Mitigating the Effects of Shortages of Emergency Medications
This report examines the shortage of emergency medications—a dearth of which has quadrupled in the past six years—and offers contingency plans for how to address the lack. Published by Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the report was based on lessons learned from a two-day workshop and provides a framework for soldiering through when drugs are in short supply. Among the strategies recommended for addressing shortfalls are preparation, substitution, conservation, reuse, and reallocation.


Global Catastrophic Risk Institute
The Global Catastrophic Risk Institute is a nonprofit effort to bring together research, education, and professional communities that can help the world better reduce the risk of global catastrophes. From raising awareness to connecting thought leaders on topic of catastrophe, this think tank is reaching across disciplines, professions, and other barriers to find opportunities to reduce risk. Visit the site to peruse the organization’s publications, find additional resources, or collaborate with members of the institute’s network.


Ambulance Riding Librarian
What’s embedded librarianship? What’s an information professional doing on an ambulance? And why does she have a bag of fake eyeballs? Those questions and more can be found in this quirky blog that chronicles the adventures of Kacy Allgood as she roles up her sleeves and gets a healthy dose of what’s on the flip side of the health information curation.

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Conferences, Training, and Events

[Below are some recent announcements received by the Natural Hazards Center. For a comprehensive list of upcoming hazards-related meetings, visit our Web site at]

February 12-14, 2013
Governor’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Conference
Minnesota Department of Public Safety
Brooklyn Center, Minnesota
Cost and Registration: $300, open until filled
This conference will host sessions and classes in emergency management, incident response, and disaster recovery. Topics include livestock emergency response, mass evacuation planning, community cybersecurity, tribal and U.S. government relationships, the U.S. Coast Guard’s disaster roles and responsibilities, medical need surges and health care, community engagement and outreach, and active shooter awareness training.


February 13-14, 2013
Coastal Hazards Summit
University of Florida
St. Augustine, Florida
Cost and Registration: $225, open until filled
This conference will look at coastal hazards and challenges and identify opportunities to build coastal resilience and sustainability. Topics include hurricane wind impacts, sea level rise, global climate change and atmospheric modeling, storm surge modeling and forecasting, water management, flooding risk assessment, flood resistant design and building codes, and communicating flood risk. 


February 26-28, 2013
Colorado Emergency Management Conference
Colorado Office of Emergency Management
Loveland, Colorado
Cost and Registration: $160, open until filled
This conference focuses on developing collaboration for statewide resilience. Topics include coordinating with utility providers, historic and cultural issues in emergencies, youth preparedness, wildfire coordination, post-wildfire watershed restoration, severe weather and climate, emergency management leadership challenges, and legal issues surrounding volunteers.


March 4-5, 2013
Mass Fatality Management Symposium
Houston Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Initiative
Houston, Texas
Cost and Registration: $75, closes February 15
This conference will address ways in which to manage disaster deaths and mass fatality incidents. Topics include death certifications and remains disposition, communicating with families and the public, first responder mental health, creating temporary morgues, and victim identification. 


March 10-12, 2013
National Tornado Summit
Oklahoma Insurance Department, Storm Prediction Center, and others
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Cost and Registration: $265, open until filled
This conference will help insurance professionals and emergency managers work to find ways to better protect lives and property from extreme weather. Topics include disaster preparedness for special populations, bystander roles in disaster response, why people ignore tornado warnings, emergency plans for businesses, the impact of inadequate insurance coverage, social media and disaster response, and volunteer and faith-based organizational contributions to emergency management.


May 20-22, 2013
Seventh National Seismic Conference on Bridges and Highways
Federal Highway Administration, Caltrans, and others
Oakland, California
Cost and Registration: $550 before February 15, open until filled
This conference will focus on teaching engineers best practices for mitigating earthquake damage to bridges and highways. Topics include the design and use of seismic isolation bearings, post-earthquake repair and recovery, performance-based seismic design, liquefaction, lateral spreading, and ground movement, tsunami loads and design, multi-hazard design, monitoring bridge performance in extreme events, and innovative technologies and materials for improved bridge resilience.

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Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Lead Mitigation Specialist, GS-13
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Denton, Texas
Salary: $86,489 to $112,434
Closing Date: February 9, 2013
This position will provide technical guidance for managing state and federal grants. Responsibilities include coordinating FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance programs, monitoring state grant status, and increasing the effectiveness and timeliness of mitigation grant programs. One year of specialized experience at or above the GS-12 level, knowledge of federal grants management rules, and experience with mitigation grant programs is required.


Community Outreach Coordinator
Cogswell College
Sunnyvale, California
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: February 24, 2013
This position will recruit new students for the Cogswell College fire science program. Responsibilities include building relationships with fire and emergency service organizations, responding to prospective student inquiries, managing the college’s communication plan, and writing reports tracking the effectiveness of recruitment. A bachelor’s degree in business or marketing and experience in higher education is required. Experience working with fire and emergency personnel is preferred. 


Hurricane Sandy Regional Reconstruction Program Manager
Architecture for Humanity
New York, New York
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: Open until filled
This position will lead a reconstruction program for areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. Responsibilities include applying for construction grants, developing partnerships with community groups and local construction organizations, assisting with public relations outreach, managing funder relationships, coordinating volunteer activities, and overseeing the work of Architecture for Humanity design fellows. At least eight years of experience managing complex projects is required. LEED accreditation, familiarity with post-disaster construction, and some web skills are preferred.


Fire Protection Publication Senior Editor
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, Oklahoma
Salary: $35,940 to $43,140
Closing Date: Open until filled
This position will research, compose, and revise original drafts for use in fire service training manuals. Responsibilities include editing text, creating instructional materials and multimedia presentations, developing goals and objectives for fire production publications, and selecting photos, artwork, and tables for fire service training materials. A bachelor’s degree and at least three years of experience writing or copy editing instructional materials is required. A master’s degree and knowledge of incident command, emergency operations, emergency medical services, and hazardous materials response is preferred. Refer to job listing number 08788.


Emergency Preparedness Coordinator
Dakota County Sheriff’s Office
Hastings, Minnesota
Salary: $57,700 to $81,300
Closing Date: Open until filled
This position will coordinate countywide emergency planning and response, including emergency preparedness exercises and developing a radiological emergency preparedness plan for the local Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant. Responsibilities include acting as a liaison between the Sheriff’s Office and county and local agencies, managing grant applications, and assuring county compliance with federal emergency planning regulations. A bachelor’s degree in emergency management and emergency preparedness knowledge is required. Familiarity with the National Incident Management System is preferred.


Emergency Preparedness & Disaster Risk Reduction Advisor
ChildFund International
Washington, D.C.
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: Open until filled
This position works to ensure the needs and rights of children are recognized during emergencies by developing ChildFund’s emergency and response plans. Responsibilities include ensuring that organizational activities meet international standards, integrating the ChildFund strategies into countries’ post-disaster plans, coordinating the international preparedness and mitigation plans, and establishing a database of emergency response activities. A master’s degree in international development and at least five years of international work experience is required. Familiarity with child-focused programming, and fluency in French or Spanish are preferred.

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