American Geosciences Institute Monthly Policy Reviews
It can be difficult to keep up with the numerous policy actions and legislation that affect how scientists and disaster professionals do their work. The American Geosciences Institute makes it easier. Each month, AGI collects information on relevant happenings and compiles it into brief, easy to ready synopses that ensure you'll have the latest information on congressional and agency undertakings.
Librarian's Disaster Planning and Community Resiliency Guidebook
More and more often, libraries are being tapped as go-to resources following disasters. Aside from providing information-a highly valuable service in itself after disaster-libraries can serve as havens that offer shelter, electricity, Wi-Fi connection, and other vital amenities that might be unavailable. Still, not every library is prepared to fulfill these functions. That's why the New Jersey State Library has created this guidebook and accompanying workbook to help them plan. The document outlines a two-prong approach, focusing on continuity of library operations, as well as steps that can be taken to assist in the recovery of the community overall.
Radiological emergency response requires having the right information, partnerships, and equipment. This network-a collaboration of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy-helps all levels of government plan ahead. The site offers secure space to share data, manage equipment and personnel, and collaborate in multijurisdictional situations.
Fire in the United States
Although the fire problem in the United States has decreased in the past decade, it still remains one of the most costly and severe hazards. In 2015 alone, fire departments across the United States responded to nearly 1.3 millions fire calls. Fire in the United States, published by the U.S. Fire Administration, provides information that can prompt corrective action, set priorities, serve as a model for state and local analyses of fire data, and provide a baseline for evaluating programs.
National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters Report
Children exposed to a disaster are particularly vulnerable to the long-lasting psychological and emotional issues that arise as a result of a disaster. This report looks at child vulnerability before, during, and after disasters and makes recommendations to increase their recovery outcomes. Among the suggested actions are coordinating services at all levels of government, allowing for flexibility in disaster situations, creating and streamlining more funding opportunities, and making funding available for research.
Securing Mobile Applications of First Responders
As apps for first responders have become more widely used, so has the ability to exploit them. Recently the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate and other partners conducted a pilot study to see how security for the most frequently used resources fared—and the answer was not good. Of 33 iOS and Android apps tested, vulnerabilities were found in 32, including the ability for hackers to access cameras and contacts, record audio, send text messages, and use hard-coded credentials. The report includes information about the study, developer feedback, lessons learned and next steps.
Wildland Fire Science
As fires continue to rage in the U.S. West, disaster professionals are grappling with ways to respond to and understand the crisis. To that end, the U.S. Geological Survey has launched a new website that aggregates its extensive fire research, data, and tools. The site was created to help fire agencies and landowners make sound decisions about land management before fires start and issues to consider as they burn. Information on fire ecosystems, post-fire restoration, debris flow, remote sensing, and more are included.
Global Climate Risk Index 2018
This report, now in its 13th edition, analyses previous data from extreme weather events such as floods, storms, and heatwaves to see the extent to which countries are affected by climate-related events. Unsurprisingly, the report finds less developed countries are more at risk and could face increasing vulnerability. The report, which uses data from 1997 through 2016, found Haiti, Fiji, and Zimbabwe were among the most affected countries in 2016 and Honduras, Haiti, and Myanmar were the most affected overall.
Healthcare Information for All Library and Information Services
Access to reliable information on healthcare topics is essential any time, but especially during disaster. This project leverages the Healthcare Information for All membership of researchers, policymakers, health professionals, to focus on providing support that helps libraries meet global health information needs, including topics such as population health, disaster preparedness, emergencies, and disease outbreaks. The scope of the recent project includes technical and financial support for libraries, developing librarian professional skills, and increasing health literacy.
National Academies of Science Planet Earth Posters
If you need a last minute holiday gift idea or just like cool retro science, check out these 1958 throwback prints from the International Geophysical Year files. The six vintage designs each feature a geophysical emphasis, including oceans, the sun and earth, and weather and climate, and can be downloaded and printed for free.
Learning from Disasters
Learning from disasters is easier when communities and policymakers can easily apply lessons gleaned from hazards research. This website uses lessons learned by researchers from events such as wildfires and extreme floods to help communities understand how they can become more resilient. Project reports, data, and other resources are included.
How Climate Resettlement Can Work for Commuities
As climate-related issues such as sea level rise begin to impact more and more nations, governments are considering relocating entire communities. This report from the Danish Institute of International Studies examines guidelines for the practice in relation to lessons learned from relocation projects in Vietnam and Zambia. The report recommends future planned relocations are driven by need rather than political interests, better attention is paid to resilience perspectives, and conflict resolution is well planned and supported.
Manual for Citizen Scientists
Citizen scientists can be a big help in collecting local data, especially in times of widespread environmental concerns, such as was seen following Hurricane Harvey in Houston. Harvard’s Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic has created this manual to help guide citizen scientists in data collection and environmental monitoring projects, with information on designing approach, analyzing and interpreting data, and potential liability. The guide was updated in September to include information specific to Texas in the wake of Harvey
2017 National Preparedness Report
The National Preparedness Report assesses accomplishments made and challenges to U.S. preparedness during the previous year. This year’s report looked at 2016 from a number of perspectives and topic areas, including prevention, protection, mitigation, and response. Successes found in the report include collaboration on Zika response, improved understanding and adoption of building codes, and enhanced fusion center performance. Challenges included the cost of wildfire suppression, reestablishing child care after disasters, and addressing the housing needs of disaster survivors.
NIST Cybersecurity Framework
In these days of multiplying data breaches, it’s relevant to remember that the National Institute of Standards and Technology has created a voluntary, risk-based framework aimed at managing cybersecurity based on business needs. This NIST website keeps users updated on the framework and how it’s being used in today’s businesses. The site includes frequently asked questions, information on updates and new events, and a variety of reference tools, websites, and additional resources.
Safely Transporting Hazardous Liquids and Gases
With the Keystone XL pipeline discussion moving to a new phase, it’s the perfect time to brush up on how the nation moves crude oil, natural gas, and other hazardous materials from place to place. This special report from the National Academies Transportation Research Board can help. The October report looked at three long-distance modes of energy transportation and made policy recommendations to increase safety. Among them were a call for a comprehensive review of how challenges have been handled since 2005, making preparedness grants available to communities facing new risk, and incentivizing emergency responder training to handle those risks.
Guidance for Emergency Responders in U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
This U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guide was created to help protect emergency responders and aid workers responding to recent hurricane events in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The guide offers information on chemical and biological hazards that could be encountered, health notices on risks such as disease outbreaks and other threats, and advice on pre-trip planning and communication while in the field.
Integrating Social and Behavioral Sciences Within the Weather Enterprise
Advances in forecasting science and weather prediction have markedly increased how effectively we can now respond to disasters, but until we are able to integrate human behavior into hazards scenarios, communities will still remain at risk. This report from the National Academies of Sciences examines current expertise in social and behavioral sciences and offers guidance to overcome the challenges of integration, including developing a research agenda and identifying arrangements that can help better combine social science and weather research.
World Tsunami Awareness Day
As World Tsunami Awareness Day approaches on November 5, the U.N. Office of Disaster Risk Reduction has compiled a list of resources to help educate people about tsunamis and what can be done to mitigate their impacts. This website includes stories of lessons learned, upcoming educational events, blog post from tsunami and disaster experts, and a range of resources available to help you educate your own community.
Refreshed National Incident Management System
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has released and updated version of the National Incident Management System known as NIMS. The new document, which was released on October 17, includes updates based on insights from stakeholders, emergency exercises, and past disasters. The latest version provides clarification on terminology, personnel certification, NIMS application to incident personnel at multiple levels, and the relationship between incident command systems, emergency operations centers, and policy groups.
Cybersecurity Virtual Training Environment
With data breaches in the news more than ever, emergency agencies need to know how to keep themselves and those they serve cybersecure. The Department of Homeland Security offers a wide range of free, online training for government employees and veterans through its Federal Virtual Training Environment. Classes are available for all levels of proficiency and include topics such as ethical hacking and surveillance, risk management, and malware analysis.
Disaster Preparedness Toolkit: Tools for Homeless Service Providers and Disaster Professionals
When disaster strikes, the most vulnerable members of communities often suffer disproportionately. This is especially true for the homeless, many of whom live in areas susceptible to disaster. To help alleviate this harm, the Veterans Emergency Management Evaluation Center has created a collection of tools and information to help increase collaborations between disaster professionals and those who provide services to the homeless. The toolkit offers guidance on forming partnerships, maintaining service continuity, and providing health care at all stages of disaster.
Floodplain Buyout Action Guide
Floodplain buyouts can be a great tool to build disaster resilience and aid recovery, but they also pose problems related to displacement and other social concerns. This guide from the Environmental Law Institute at the University of North Carolina uses case studies to provide practical approaches for local officials attempting to institute floodplain buyouts in their neighborhoods.
Public Health Law News Fifty Nifty
Even if you’re already a fan of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s handy Public Health Law newsletter, you’ll want to dive deeper into this feature that curates topical information related to health law from each of the 50 states. Whether you need to check in on your own region or keep up with your neighbor, this collection is nifty for sure!
NIST Disaster Resilience Research Grant Awards
The National Institute of Standards and Technology has announced 12 winners of its resilience research grant program aimed at advancing resilient infrastructure, building codes and standards, and measurement technologies. From alleviating coastal inundation to enhancing reinforced concrete buildings, you’ll want to take a look at the innovations that could be in our future.
National Preparedness Month
As the late August flooding in Houston confirms, it’s important for local official to make sure communities are prepared for disaster. They can get started with this list of Ready.gov resources collected to celebrate September, which is National preparedness month. The site includes communications plans, social media campaigns, checklists and other tools to help busy agencies get the word out.
Safeguarding Houses of Worship App
Communities of faith can be tremendous resources during a disaster. They can also be vulnerable to extremist attacks. Both dynamics point to a need for law enforcement and houses of worship to build strong networks. This app was created to do just that by identifying vulnerabilities, strengthening security, and helping create emergency response plans.
Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health After the 2015 Nepal Earthquakes
This research, funded by a Natural Hazards Center Quick Response Grant, looked at outcomes for mothers and children six months after the Nepal Earthquake and subsequent fuel crisis in 2015. The author found that delays in rebuilding were negatively affecting mother and child health. The report recommends considering political and social contexts for future disasters and conduction multiple periodical health assessments in the years that follow.
Get Airports Ready for Disaster Program
Airports are major players in disasters. Even if they aren’t affected by the hazard itself, they’re often taxed by the need to deliver supplies to affected areas. This program, developed by the UN Development Program and shipping company DHL, offers workshops and training courses to help airport managers create action plans and risk analyses that keep things running smoothly during emergency events.
If you’re thinking about building project, you should also be thinking of how to keep your investment safe from disaster. This site provides quick information on disasters by locale for businesses and governments all of over the world—nce you’ve determine the risks you face, it will offer recommendations about how to mitigate them.
NHERI Five Year Science Plan
With so many natural hazards challenges to study and address, the Network Coordination Office of the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure has just released its five-year plan to help determine and guide research that lessens earthquake, storm, and wind damage. The plan is a collaboration tool for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers that outlines NHERI resources and can aid in preparing National Science Foundation proposals.
Seattle Times Tsunami Video
When the Seattle Times learned that a local elementary school would have just 20 minutes to reach high ground after a tsunami, they sent a top high school athlete to run the course. He made it just in time, but watching this video makes it clear that kindergarteners wouldn’t. It’s an impactful look at what the difference between having a plan, and having a workable plan can be.
Safer, Stronger, Smarter: A Guide to Improving School Natural Hazard Safety
Speaking of school safety plans, the Federal Emergency Management Agency recently released this guide to school administrators, emergency managers, and teachers. The guide includes an overview of assessments and planning requirements, ways to make buildings safer, examples of good practices for various hazards, and advice on applying the Whole Community approach to school planning.
Facing the Nation’s Largest Active Disaster: Liquid Asset Poverty
For 63 percent of Americans, finding $500 to make it through an emergency is an impossibility. That fact came as a surprise to many when put forward during the Larry A. Larson lecture at the most recent Natural Hazards Workshop. This blog post by Hagerty Consulting’s Brock Long—now administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency—digs deeper into the unfortunate phenomenon and makes suggestions for how preparedness professionals can move beyond suggestions of stockpiling food to a more truly resilient community.
HAZUS Earthquake Losses for the United States
Building losses caused by earthquakes could cost the United States up to $6.1 billion annually, according to this recent update of a 2008 report. The report, which was released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey and National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, looks at earthquake hazards and exposure using the HAZUS loss estimation tool and estimates economic losses by region across the nation.
HazNet Climate Issue
If you haven’t yet read the latest edition of the HazNet, you’ll find a wealth of interesting viewpoints from our Canadian counterparts. This issue examines climate with a collection of interviews, policy considerations, practice concerns, and research perspectives. Those interested in how our neighbors are working to build resilience to climate extremes should keep an eye out for the Fall issue, as well, when the conversation will continue.
Slow-Onset Crises: A Review of Surge Practices
Emergencies that gradually crescendo into disasters can be difficult to prepare for and respond to. This report examines the challenges of responding to slow-onset events—such as refugee crises, drought, or food shortages—and how resources that are normally deployed in surge events might also be used for progressive disasters. The report suggests a variety of ways governments and humanitarian agencies can craft policies that trigger response to slow-onset disasters and allow surge capability to be used.
National Health Security Preparedness Index
The National Health Security Preparedness Index has provided a snapshot of public health in the United States for the past four years—and the latest picture is pretty but a bit out of focus. The Index aggregates health data in several categories (called domains by the index) and rates preparedness for each state and the nation as a whole. The most recent report, released in April, found health security is improving, but slowly, and some areas are far less prepared than others.
How Did Climate Change Affect That Extreme Weather Event?
If you ever wondered how climate change is like cookies, this video will make it clear! Using a baking analogy to explain how climate change impacts the quality of the weather Mother Nature cooks up, this animated short from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine provides an entertaining and easy-to-understand overview of the interrelation between climate and weather.
Flood Insurance: Comprehensive Reform Could Improve Solvency and Enhance Resilience
The National Flood Insurance Program is currently nearly $25 billion in debt and attempts at reform have met with resistance from the public and various stakeholders. The time, then, is ripe for this examination by the Government Accountability Office. The GAO names six areas where action might be taken to create a more solvent program. But with challenges ranging from less affordable policies to barriers to private-sector involvement, the report warns that the path won’t be easy.
Building Your Roadmap to a Disaster Resilient Future
Communities looking to jump on the disaster resilience bandwagon can potentially face a lot of bumps in the road. This report, published by the National Hazards Mitigation Association, aims to smooth the way. With links to a wide range of available resources and insight on how to navigate them, this document is a handy reference for all the people who drive resilience efforts in a community and points to the many and varied paths that lead to disaster risk reduction.
Airport Weather Advanced REadiness (AWARE) Toolkit
Weather can significantly impact an airport’s ability to operate. This toolkit, created by Transportation Research Board’s Airport Cooperative Research Program, helps airport planners apply best practices to assess their readiness for weather events. With six modules that apply to different functional areas, the toolkit uses historical weather data to track costs and recovery efforts. Multiple versions for various sized airports are available.
QuakeSmart Community Resilience Program
Before an earthquake rocks their bottom line, the QuakeSmart website will help companies and communities reinforce their business plans against disaster. The site, maintained by the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, contains a variety of resources, including upcoming preparedness workshops, toolkits and flashcards, how-to videos on earthquake keeping safe in a quake.
Sustainable Disaster Response Council
Building back better is a common goal after disaster, but one that often lacks definition. The Sustainable Disaster Response Council is a membership organization aims to assure that building after disaster is stronger, safer, and environmentally responsible. The group offers members access to education, certification, and advocacy programs. Group members, who represent a broad spectrum of construction, architecture, insurance, and related industries, also contribute to a bank of research for member use.
Tribal Emergency Preparedness Law
Public health emergencies don’t recognize the boundaries between tribal and U.S. lands, but public health officials must. This primer on tribal emergency preparedness by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides and entry into understanding the tribal authority and cross-jurisdictional coordination.
Geography of Urban Social Vulnerability Videos
Across the world—including in developed nations—vulnerable individuals are disproportionately affected by disaster. This video series by United Nations University’s Urban Social Vulnerability project examines the vulnerability in disaster planning and mitigation in four locations—Mumbai, Mexico City, Manila, and Los Angeles.
Climate Degregulation Tracker
This handy website from the Columbia Law School lists daily updates on congressional or presidential actions that will impact climate mitigation and adaptation. The site contains an easy overview of the latest actions, action types, and agencies affected, as well as expanded information on each entry. A database of current and proposed regulations that address climate change is a useful reference of what’s at risk.
Floodplain Management 2016: Local Programs
Knowing what actions and programs are working for planners and flood managers across the nation can provide insight for local-level professionals. That’s why the Association of State Floodplain Managers conducted a survey that captures the face of local practitioners and their work. This report, released in December, encapsulates the results of that survey to give a snapshot of the practices, capacities, and challenges of local floodplain management.
2017 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure
Events like the Oroville Dam collapse or the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, serve as good reminders of the importance of infrastructure in the United States. That fact isn’t lost on the American Society of Civil Engineers, which issues a report card on the nation’s vital systems every four years. The report card provides a quick overview of infrastructure by category or state, and lets you drill down to more detailed information. Equipped with information on everything from aviation to wastewater, you can keep an eye on whether or not America is making the grade (spoiler: it’s not).
Cities Adapt to Extreme Heat: Celebrating Local Leadership
This report details efforts to respond and adapt to increasingly frequent and intense heat events. The report examines 20 case studies to provide examples of tactics used throughout Canada, including issuing targeted warnings, using public facilities as cooling centers, providing water for those in need, educating the public, and actions that help reduce urban heat islands.
Geo-Targeting Performance of Wireless Emergency Alerts in Imminent Threat Scenarios: Tornado Warnings
This is the first in a two-volume study that investigates how over-alerting and warning fatigue before disasters can be reduced. Warning fatigue is a common problem in tornado scenarios, where false alarms can be common. This can eventually lead the public to consider alarms inaccurate and cause the to ignore future alarms. The study found using the geo-targeting capabilities of Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) could improve alert accuracy, increase confidence, and reduce fatigue.
Health and Safety Planning Guide for Protecting Responders Following a Nuclear Detonation
When it comes to an nuclear incident, first responders will be especially susceptible to radiation exposure. This reference guide gives planners and safety officers guidance on how to protect response personnel so they can continue their missions. The guide includes information on what to expect from a nuclear detonation, zoned response planning, physical effects of radiation exposure, and tips for self-protection in a radiation zone.
Pre-Disaster Planning Recovery Guide for Local Governments
The best time to figure out how your community will recover from a disaster is before you have one—that’s why the Federal Emergency Management Agency has a created a guide to help local governments get a plan in place sooner rather than later. The guide lists steps to creating a plan, engaging community members and the private sector in planning, and incorporating existing response plans in the process.
Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative
Wherever disaster strikes, there is sure to be pieces of cultural heritage at stake—from the irreplaceable photographs in your attic to museum-quality works of art. The Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative is here to save them. The initiative responds to crises worldwide and also teaches conservators how to safeguard cultural artifacts. The website has more or those efforts, plus helpful resources such as guides on emergency evacuation of collections, response and recovery information, and more on the Heritage Emergency National Task Force co-sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
GAO Report on Civil Defense Support of Pandemic Preparedness
Now is the time to shore up communication on pandemic preparedness between the U.S. Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services, according to this new report from the Government Accountability Office. The report, which assesses the DOD plan to support civil authorities during a pandemic, found that the departments could make better use of existing mechanisms—including interagency working groups and training exercises—to improve pandemic response. Since DHS and HHS are in the process of updating response plans, the timing is especially good to include additional coordination support into the process.
National Profile of Local Health Departments
This survey, conducted by the National Association of County and City Health Officials, will provide insight about local health departments in the United States—who they serve, how they’re financed, and what they’re working on. Nearly 2,000 of the 2,500 U.S. local health departments responded to the survey to report on wide range of topics including leadership structure, preparedness activities, and public health policy. The result is a glimpse into the day-to-day worlds of the organizations that protect public health.
First Observer Plus
Since transportation hubs make appealing targets for terrorist attacks, it makes sense to give transportation officials extra training in spotting suspicious activity. The First Observer Plus program by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration does just that, offering online and in-person training classes in categories for highway workers, school bus drivers, and other employees that could encounter potential crimes. Classes focus on how to assess and report threats.
Accomplishments of the U.S. Global Change Research Program
This new National Academies report looks at the many accomplishments of the nearly 30-year-old program Global Change Research Program, which was created to provide strategic planning and coordination to federal agencies as they advanced the science of global environmental change. The report finds the program has helped produce science that is more useful to decision makers and the public, and suggests the program expand on it’s current Earth system observations, while making better use of social science resources.
Just because your organization doesn’t have a role in emergency management doesn’t mean it won’t be called on to act in a dire situation. Increasing episodes in public areas such as nightclubs, malls, and other gathering places have shown it’s a good idea for private sector groups to know a bit about staying safe. The Department of Homeland Security has the tools to do just that—learn how to connect with public safety officials, plan for a variety of scenarios, and train employees to respond if the unthinkable does happen.
Protecting the Health of Your Friends and Family
Youth are often considered among the most vulnerable groups in disasters, but this website from U.S. Health and Human Services capitalizes on how they can help instead. The site offers a number of tools—including an activity guide and brochure—that will help youth think about ways they can take care of others in disasters.
Implementation Guidelines: Establishing a Federal Earthquake Risk Management Standard
These guidelines, recently released by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, provide recommendations for implementing an executive order to establish an earthquake risk management standard for federal buildings. The order, which was issued in February 2016, requires that newly constructed or remodeled federal buildings incorporate earthquake-resistant design.
Inoculating the Public Against Misinformation About Climate Change
In a world of “alternative facts,” this timely report looks at whether action can be taken to help protect the public from targeted campaigns that undermine the veracity of scientific findings on human-caused climate change. The authors find that, although the increasing politicization of the topic can be damaging, it is possible to counteract misinformation by providing information on expert consensus, as well as political motivation behind misleading communications.
IMPACT All-Hazards Tool for First Responders
For first responders to make an impact in emergencies, they need be able to use all the tools available. This software developed by Oakridge National Laboratories does just that by allowing data to be used with map-based tools to create visuals and simulations. The free tool is available to federal, state, and local governments (and their partners) to aid in efforts such as evacuation planning, search and rescue operations, severe weather monitoring, and numerous other needs.
National Inventory of Dams
While the exact number of dams in the United States is unknown, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers keeps this database of an estimated 79,000 dams, including information on their hazard classifications. Recently updated with information from 2016, the site allows lookups by state, hazard potential, height, purpose, and a variety of other identifiers.
Communities and organizations might realize the need to move ahead with resilience planning, but sometimes starting the process is easier said than done. That’s where Resilience Dialogues comes in. This website can put community leaders in contact with a range of scientists and resilience professionals to answer questions, provide custom information and solutions, and share their experiences. Powered by more than 10 federal agencies and state and professional organizations devoted to climate and disaster resilience, struggling communities are bound to find the information they need.
Critical Infrastructure Protection for Healthcare and Public Health Sectors
No one wants to be without power, communication, or any of the other critical services provided through public infrastructure systems, but during an disaster, loss of infrastructure to healthcare facilities can mean loss of life. This program, coordinated by the U.S. Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, works to help facilities protect critical infrastructure, prepare for infrastructure failures, communicate healthcare needs to government infrastructure programs, and implement national infrastructure protection plans.
When it comes to crowdsourcing information related to environmental topics, Data Basin has everything but the kitchen sink. The website allows users to contribute data sets, maps and pictures, as well as providing ways for others to put all that info together. Visitors can create custom visualizations, drawings, and analyses; use collaborative tools; and even develop their own decision-support tools. Webinars are provided to get beginners off to a roaring start.
Communicating Science Effectively
Communicating science—especially contentious issues—to the public is rarely easy and current practices aren’t working, according to this recently released report from the National Academies. The report finds that the “deficit model” of providing the public with an abundance of information isn’t effective and scientists need to recognize factors such as social influence, belief systems, and ways information is processed in order to customize their messages. Scientists also need to consider the medium for those messages, as well.
Critical Health and Safety Issues in the Volunteer Fire Service
With nearly 70 percent of the U.S. firefighting force made up of volunteers, it only makes sense to examine factors unique to volunteers that affect health and safety. The U.S. Fire Administration does that in this report and finds that changes in six categories—culture, recruitment and retention, funding, firefighter roles, personal health, and safety protocols—can improve outcomes. The report also includes handy tools, resources, best practices, and objectives to help departments better manage volunteers.
Climate Change: The Fiscal Risks Facing the Federal Government
The future of U.S. action related to climate change is uncertain—and so is what we know about how much climate change-related impacts will cost the government. This initial assessment by the Office of Management and Budget looked at risks related to agriculture, fire, flood, air quality, and coastal storms and came to the conclusion that, while we might not be able to quantify future costs with extreme accuracy, they are likely to be significant.
Colorado Resiliency Resource Center
For many communities, the concept of resilience can be difficult to translate to reality. In Colorado, a new resource is aimed at making that easier. This website features knowledge and resources to help a variety of audiences understand, plan for, and act on resilience—including planning guidance, case studies, templates, training modules and more. While some of the info is Colorado-specific, there’s plenty of national appeal, too.
Law Enforcement Cybercenter
From protecting power grids to keeping credit information safe, cybersecurity is becoming paramount in today’s wired world. This site helps law enforcement officials investigate and prevent technology crime. Resources are categorized by role—police chiefs, officers, investigators, and prosecutors—and includes information on training, technical assistance, and general topics. Professionals can also gain access to Federal Bureau of Investigation cyber resources through a portal on the site.
Gender and Emergency Management Guidelines
People of diverse genders experience disasters and their aftermaths differently, but often, these experiences aren’t considered in emergency management planning. These guidelines, developed under an Australian Government initiative, attempt to create a framework for employing gender sensitivity in relief and recovery operations.
HazNet Indigenous Disaster Resilience
Resilience has been a buzzword in the disaster circles for quite some time—but not nearly as long as the concept has been in practice in indigenous cultures. The latest issue of the Canadian Risk and Hazards Network publication, HazNet, is devoted to indigenous disaster resilience and how these communities meet the challenges of preparing for and responding to hazards, while continuing to move forward.
U.S. Public Perception of Zika Risk
The World Health Organization recently downgraded the spread of Zika from an international public health emergency to a significant public health challenge—a determination that is still concerning to public health practitioners. Average Americans, however, weren’t adequately grasping their personal risk even before that development, according to this report based on more than nearly 2,500 surveys. The report finds that U.S. residents have a general awareness of the disease but that their “specific knowledge regarding the virus’s symptoms and transmission routes is incomplete, their personal sense of threat of Zika infection is relatively muted.” The report looks at public perception based on a variety of factors, as well as their implications.
Although flood mitigation makes good sense, for some communities mitigation measures can feel like a loss of place and community. This new site by the Intelligence Unit at The Economist takes a look at mitigation at the positive returns mitigation can have on the economy, on infrastructure, and on the social fabric of communities facing flood risks. With sections devoted to mitigation takeaways, community case studies, and resources available across the United States, it’s a great read for anyone concerned about the impacts of flooding in their town.
Sociocultural and Psychosocial Impacts of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
For nearly a quarter of a century, researchers Duane Gill, Steven Picou, and the Natural Hazards Center’s own Liesel Ritchie have studied the impacts of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on the residents of Cordova, Alaska. This new publication is a comprehensive view of the many insidious results such a far-reaching disaster can have on a community—from the economic impacts to the chronic stress to exhaustion caused by years of litigation and lost resources. (Subscription may be required).
Southeast Coal Ash Map
It’s been six years since a ruptured dike at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston plant alerted the world to the dangers of coal ash repositories. Not surprisingly, the risks of slurry ponds are still an issue. Now, for those living in the southeaster United States, knowing the risk to nearby communities is as easy as clicking on a map. This site, created by Southeast Coal Ash.org, maps coal ash storage and provides information on each site, including hazard ratings, Environmental Protection Agency data, satellite images, and the full details on each site’s ownership, age, and threatened water supplies.
Extreme Event: Earthquake
Up until now, groups have been able to host hurricanes and other disasters, with the Extreme Event game series. Now it’s time to try your hand at an earthquake! The latest scenario in the game series by the Koshland Science Museum and the ResilientAmereic will let 12- to 48-players see how they’d fare when the ground starts shaking. The quick-paced game is played on tablets or laptops and features an unfolding disaster in four phases—preparation, response, recovery, and adaptation. Players must collaborate to solve disaster challenges and afterwards reflect on their levels of disaster resilience.
Guide for Developing Cross-Jurisdictional Sharing Arrangements
Disease and public health emergencies don’t recognize jurisdictional boundaries, so it’s wise for health agencies to work around them, as well. This guide, developed by Center for Sharing Public Health Services and the Network for Public Health Law, can help communities set up legal documents for addressing issues and sharing resources during such emergencies. Although not a replacement for legal advice, the guide and accompanying checklist can help leaders begin thinking about the various elements that need to be in place before creating such agreements.
Medicare and Medicaid Emergency Preparedness Rule
Healthcare providers and suppliers accepting Medicaid and Medicare should know about an upcoming rule that will take effect beginning November 16. The Emergency Preparedness rule was created to insure providers have resources in place to address emergency planning, risk assessment, and communication in a variety of situations. This website has the full scoop, along with templates and checklists to help get a plan in place.
Resource Guide on Resilience
This guide from the International Risk Governance Council collects resources on resilience in the context of risk management for scientists and practitioners. The contents—which are searchable by concept, approach, or discipline—look at integrating, developing, and measuring resilience for governments and decision makers with an emphasis developing indicators and quantifying effectiveness. The site is a work in progress, so check back frequently while the collection grows.
Dam Safety in the United States
For those keeping tabs on the safety of the 87,000 dams in the national inventory, the Federal Emergency Management Agency recently posted its biennial report to congress on how well U.S. safety guidelines are working. Overall, the report finds many encouraging actions have been taken to support dam safety, but there is still much progress needed in the area of coordination, resilience, and risk communication. Take a look at the report for more on individual state response and FEMA’s action plan for the next two years.
World Heritage in the High Seas: An Idea Whose Time Has Come
With more than 1,000 protected areas under its belt the UNESCO World Heritage Center could be setting its sights on the sea. This new report explores ways that areas such as coral reefs, underwater volcanoes, and other ecosystems might be protected under the World Heritage Convention, even though they lack the national jurisdiction that would normally spur UNESCO involvement. The report lays out three potential concepts that could keep five marine sites safe from the ravages of climate change, sea level rise, and a host of technological disasters.
Science Literacy: Concepts, Contexts, and Consequences
In a world where attitudes regarding scientific findings on climate change and other contentious topics are often described in terms of belief or philosophy, it’s not too far-fetched to assume that more is at play than mere understanding of principles. This recent report from the National Academies Press confirms that better education will not generate greater support for science—instead a new take on science literacy that includes the relationship between science knowledge and attitudes about science, as well as how communities (as opposed to individuals) engage in science, is needed.
Introduction to FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program
If you’ve ever been confounded by the National Flood Insurance Program or its many parts, this primer from the Congressional Research Service will help you get a FIRM grasp on the program. The 25-page guide is a quick overview on everything from Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS), community participation, risk assessment, and funding. Whether you’re a community manager or wondering if you need flood insurance, this is a great place to start.
World Risk Report 2016
Quantifying risk isn’t easy, but each year the Institute for Environment and Human Society at United Nations University does just that. The annual report looks at a nation’s exposure to risk and multiplies it by its vulnerability to come up with an overall ranking of how likely a country is to suffer from the impacts of disaster. This year, the report puts a special emphasis on critical infrastructure and the role it places in shaping disaster risk. The report finds that infrastructure—and the ability to maintain it—greatly affect a country’s ability to recover from disasters.
Voice Radio Communication Guide for the Fire Service
Because firefighters often face different conditions when using the radio—including communicating through smoke, protective gear, and in areas where radio signals don’t reach—the U.S. Fire Administration has released this guide to help improve communications for increased safety. The guide gives an overview of basic technology, interoperability, and different types of systems; as well as insight on radio spectrum licensing and FCC reconfigurations.
NIOSH Storm, Hurricane, and Flood Resources
Considering recent weather stretching from Hawaii to Gulf Coast, it might be a good idea to keep this collection of resources from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health on hand. The compilation includes recommendations for emergency responders, assessment tools for hospitals and shelters, information on disaster cleanup hazards, and general advice on everything from motor vehicle safety to identifying human remains.
Emergency Preparedness Planning Guide for Child Care Centers and Child Care Homes
When it comes to keeping kids safe during disaster—especially for those five and under—having a plan in place is paramount. This guide can serve as a template to help childcare facilities plan for a wide range of emergencies, assess threats, reunite children and parents, and collaborate with local authorities before disaster strikes. Although created for the State of Illinois, the sample checklists, information release forms, resources, and reference sheets are a good place to start for other care providers, as well.
National Institute of Health Disaster Research Response
For those interested in the health implications of hazards and disasters, this website—which supports the National Institute of Health framework for research on the topic—will be invaluable. The site offers and array of data collection tools, research protocols, disaster research news, and events. Check back often for the latest information on topical subjects, such as the Zika outbreak or oil spill response.
The Making of a Riskier Future: How Are Decisions Are Shaping Future Disaster Risk
Disasters are out of our control, but factors that increase risk aren’t. This report by the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction argues that individuals and policy makers need to do more to avoid the main drivers of risk—but can’t do so effectively until better way of assessing the dynamic nature of risk is developed.
Wildland Urban Interface Toolkit
This go-to resource has a wealth of information to help fire departments need to prepare for and respond to wildland urban interface fires. Communities threatened by the possibility of wildland fires on their outskirts will find communication templates, assessment tools, codes and standards, and training opportunities that can help make a difference when wildland fire comes to town.
World Health Organization Zika App
Healthcare workers and first responders can keep up on ever-changing information about the Zika virus, thanks to this app developed by the WHO. The app has real-time information about disease spread, technical guidance, response, training, and the latest news and research. The app is available in a variety of languages on both iPhone and Android platforms.
Terrorism Risk Insurance: Comparison of Selected Programs in the United States and Foreign Countries
When it comes to terrorism risk insurance, United States insurers could pay more than the coverage offered by Australia, Austria, India, Spain, and the United Kingdom combined. That is just one of the findings of this U.S. Government Accountability Office report, which looks at the structures of 16 terrorism insurance programs and the loss-sharing agreements between government and the private sector. The report was created as part of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act and offers no recommendations.
Community-Based Water Resiliency Tool
What would your community do if it had to go without water for a day…or longer. Download this electronic assessment tool from the Environmental Protection Agency and find out. The tool will help communities gauge their ability to handle emergencies that affect water availability, suggest resources for increasing resilience, and create an action plan to keep the water flowing during disaster.
The C³ Voluntary Program
The C³, or C Cubed, voluntary program was created to help organizations increase cybersecurity by connecting them to existing Department of Homeland Security cyber risk management programs and introducing them to the Homeland Security-developed Framework. A project of the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, this program is especially focused toward increasing critical infrastructure security and resiliency.
Climate Information and Early Warning Systems Communications Toolkit
This toolkit provides resources and templates that will help multiple audiences design and implement a complete communications strategy that supports sustainable investments in climate information and services. While applied to the specific needs and political contexts of sub-Saharan Africa, the toolkit can also be easily adapted for other developing nations.
Planning for Hazards: Land Use Solutions for Colorado
Although nearly three years has past, the ongoing recovery from the 2013 Colorado floods point to the need incorporate disaster risk reduction and resilience into planning effort. This new guide and accompanying website provide a road map to doing just that, with an eye toward Colorado risks. Visit the site to access the guide, find profiles of land-use tools that reduce loss and, and read interviews with communities of various sizes and capacities.
Disaster Collaboratory Journal List
If the Disaster Collaboratory wasn’t a useful enough (and as a place where disaster researchers can share ideas, experiences, and resources, it really is handy)—then this list of disaster-centric journals makes it all the more so. The list was compiled based on a number of factors such as credible scholarship, peer-review practices, and publisher credentials—and they’re all open access, because we know the best disaster research should be widely shared.
USGS Induced Earthquakes Website
The U.S. Geological Survey recently created a stir with the release of a new model that forecasts induced earthquakes. While that assessment was eye opening, it’s only part of a suite of information USGS has about induced seismicity. Check out this great source from the Earthquake Hazards Program and find observational studies, hazard estimation, and more on the myths and misconceptions surrounding manmade quakes.
NASA’s Planetary Defense
Because asteroids hurtling toward the earth exist outside Hollywood blockbusters, there’s NASA’s planetary defense. Check out the website and learn more about what types of hazards lurk in space, the systems in place to monitor them, and how they might be redirected. Bonus perk: you’ll probably be the only one of your friends to know that the Asteroid Grand Challenge isn’t a video game.
Isle de Jean Charles Resettlement
In just over 60 years, erosion and sea level rise have swallowed 98 percent of Isle de Jean Charles. This has posed a significant problem for the band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians that has called the island their home since the early 1800s. Recently, though, island residents have received funding to resettle. This website will let you take the journey with them as they implement their novel plan, as well as provide background and insight into what it takes to relocate an entire community.
Attributions of Extreme Weather in the Context of Climate Change
Weather experts have often been cautious about connecting climate change to individual weather events, but advances in the science of extreme weather attribution are changing that. This report from the National Academies Press looks at how this relatively new branch of inquiry is advancing, and the extent to which it can separate human-caused climate change from other factors in individual weather.
Tsunami Awareness Fact Sheets
You don’t have to make waves to keep your community aware of tsunami dangers, thanks to these handy fact sheets from the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program. The recently updated material is available in a two-page or trifold format and has space to add your logo and contact information. Download and distribute yours today.
Public Health System Training in Disaster Recovery
Public health workers can play a key in disaster recovery—even more so with this helpful training program developed by the National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health. The materials—handy for individuals or organizations—include presentations, worksheets, and resources for both trainers and trainees.
EERI Taiwan Earthquake Clearinghouse
The Earthquake Engineering Research Institute has created a helpful clearinghouse of information related to the February 6 earthquake in Taiwan. Visit the site to find reports from EERI’s reconnaissance team, information on specific building damage, maps and photos, and other resources.
Canadian Climate Opinion Maps
If you want to know what Canada thinks about climate change, there’s a map for that. This project from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication visualizes Canadian opinions on issues such as human contribution to earth warming, cap and traded systems, and support for increasing taxes on carbon-based fuels. Available in English and French.
Affordability of National Flood Insurance Program Premiums
This two-part report by the National Academies of Sciences examines recent changes to National Flood Insurance Program premiums which, although implemented to make the program more fiscally sound, ended up making flood insurance unaffordable for many homeowners. Together, the reports provide an overview of the program and offer alternatives for evaluating when premium increases make pricing unaffordable.
East Coast Lab: Life at the Boundary
Life at the boundary of two tectonic plates is all about natural hazards—earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and coastal erosion—and so is East Coast Lab. This project, led by a collection of New Zealand’s national and regional agencies and universities, offers opportunities to participate in citizen research, monitor hazards in real time, and discover more about the hazards off the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.
Student Tools for Emergency Planning (STEP)
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has stepped up its game for the STEP program with a recently revamped curriculum. Teachers will find updated resources, lessons, and handouts for the program, which aims to teach kids in fourth and fifth grades the basics of emergency planning, preparedness, and communication.
Many people in the United States are at risk from damaging earthquakes, and many know it. Still, it’s one thing to realize the risk and another entirely to understand it. Temblor is a beta-version web-based app that can help. Enter an address and building details, and learn the risk for experiencing quakes, what a serious quake would cost, and how much cheaper and safer retrofitting would make you.
The National Center for Climate and Security Warriors and Weather Compilation
Alone, The Economist’s video, Warriors and Weather: Climate Change and National Security in America is a useful, ten-minute look into how the U.S. Department of Defense is approaching climate issues. But the National Center for Climate and Security takes that reporting a step further, pairing it with a list of suggested readings that range from statements by the administration to government reports and testimony.
NCDMPH Access and Functional Needs Video Series
It’s important to consider people with special access and functional needs during disaster, and communities that have worked to address these issues have a lot to share. Now, the National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health is collecting their stories in a series of videos that explores how such challenges can be met. Take a look at the first in the series, which discusses the relationship between Oklahoma’s State Emergency Preparedness and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.