Disaster Preparedness | Emergency Response

Featured Videos

Dubhe Beinhorn describes AtHoc, Inc, winner of GSN’s 2012 award for “Best Mass Notification Solutions,” as a company that operates in one sector only: critical communications for crisis management....


Fri, 2014-01-10 02:25 PM
Over the last week the city of Cleveland wrestled with low temperatures, piles of snow and roadways covered with ice that left some people stranded and caused a number of car accidents. While the...
Fri, 2014-01-10 01:54 PM
The City of Indianapolis is slowly getting back on its feet after several days of icy road conditions, dangerously low temperatures, and over a foot of snow. Thousands of residents across the city...
Thu, 2014-01-09 02:20 PM
When the temperature drops to a certain level, many fire departments have protocols in place to help protect firefighters’ safety and to help them continue to carry out their duties in an effective...
Thu, 2014-01-09 11:07 AM
January 8 – The temperature is 7 degrees. The city has been in a deep freeze for a week. Schools are closed for the third day, and the snow is so high that it blocks the first floor of many buildings...
Wed, 2014-01-01 05:52 PM
A 31-year-old woman was rescued by the Coast Guard Auxiliary after spotting her clinging to a channel marker near Matanzas Pass, FL, last week. The Auxiliary boat crew from Flotilla 91 was on a...
Mon, 2013-12-23 03:30 PM
In its role as overseer of security for the nation’s pipeline infrastructure, TSA expects to collect current contact information from more than 3,300 pipeline operators across the United States. “The...
Sat, 2013-12-21 03:17 PM

A FEMA responder
base camp

FEMA is gathering information from prospective vendors who could help the agency in case of an emergency in Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands by quickly establishing two large “responder support...
Thu, 2013-12-19 01:48 PM

Disaster Reporter from
BAE and Eye Street

BAE Systems and Eye Street Solutions, Inc. have launched an add-on feature to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) official mobile app that is designed to enhance situational awareness...
Wed, 2013-12-11 05:24 PM

Oil spill

The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that it will experience a 35 percent increase over last year in the number of oil spill removal organizations who respond each year to the Coast Guard’s regular...
Thu, 2013-12-05 03:45 PM

Chuck Brooks

Government Security News is pleased to announce the winners of its GSN 2013 Homeland Security Awards program, which were selected from hundreds of nominations submitted by leading vendors of IT and...
Tue, 2013-12-03 01:23 PM
A year-and-a-half after a tornado devastated Joplin, MO, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released a 492-page report of its comprehensive investigation of the weather-...
Mon, 2013-12-02 07:15 PM
Ardent Management Consulting (ArdentMC) was awarded a five-year blanket purchase agreement, with an estimated combined ceiling value of $98 million, to support programs throughout DHS with...

Company News

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved more than $1 million in Disaster Assistance Loans for residents in Alabama affected by severe storms, tornadoes, high winds and flooding from April 28 through May 5, 2014.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) has selected Blackboard to enhance district-wide advanced mass notification capabilities. Blackboard works with some of the largest school districts in the country including the Los Angeles Unified School District and Chicago Public Schools.

Firefighters wear protective gloves called “structure gloves” to keep their hands safe on the job. The protective equipment firefighters wear -- including structure gloves -- give them the confidence to focus on putting out fires and saving lives. The structure gloves currently used by firefighters, however, are not designed for the precision movements first responders must perform, according to Responder Technologies, a division within the U.S. DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T).

St Louis, MO-based Code 3, Inc., has introduced a new amplifier system that significantly changes how warning sounds are utilized in emergency response. The Banshee system offers a selection of tones, features, and options that have never been available in one siren amp system before: three low frequency tones, multiple dual tones, and a true-sounding electronic air horn, according to the company.

Mutualink, based in Wallingford, CT, will partner with Comprehensive Communication Services and CTS Consolidated Telecom Services at the Texas Emergency Management Conference to demonstrate multimedia interoperability capabilities for public safety personnel. Attendees will experience first-hand how on-demand interagency communication and information sharing can be simply and effectively achieved across the Public Safety LTE Band 14 broadband network.

Redlands, CA-based Esri and Alchemy Management has selected five of the nation's leading fire rescue departments to take part in the 2014 National Community Risk Reduction (CRR) Leadership Program. As part of the program, Esri will train fire rescue staff on how to use mapping software to identify community risk, establish risk prevention programs, and prioritize neighborhood outreach and education.

The Pennsylvania National Guard is hosting a multi-agency emergency-preparedness exercise called Vigilant Guard, May 7-16, at Fort Indiantown Gap, Lebanon County, PA. Secondary training events are scheduled to take place in Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lawrence, Mercer, and Philadelphia counties.

America’s PrepareAthon! launched its Spring program on April 30th for its first day of action to help communities focus on emergency planning and disaster preparedness strategies. This Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) initiative is geared toward helping communities plan and respond to natural disasters such as tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. President Obama released a statement encouraging people to get involved in the America’s PrepareATHON!

Commentary and Opinions

The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 created a lot of buzz around the word “telework.” President Obama signed this Act into law in December 2010.

According to an Office of Personnel Management (OPM) memorandum, the Act provides a framework for agencies to better leverage technology and to maximize the use of flexible work arrangements, which will aid in recruiting new federal workers, retain valuable talent and allow the government to maintain productivity in various situations.

The subject of disaster management and emergency preparedness has fundamentally evolved over the last 10 years.

Although historians may characterize 2011 differently than I do, I believe that many in the government and public safety arena likely will remember this as the “Year of the Natural Disaster.” From the unparalleled Japanese tsunami to wildfires and tornadoes that literally destroyed entire communities and droughts that plagued many parts of the United States, we have come face-to-face with natural disasters of epic proportions. 

Port security seems to be the forgotten child when it comes to preparing for disasters, at least in the public eye. Potential threats to aviation and mass transit generate many more conversations, and for good reason, but the risks posed to ports, primarily from cargo, cannot be ignored. 

A cargo container looks innocuous, just a square, metal box loaded with goods…right? This impression could not be further from the truth. 

What if your cell phone could detect toxic airborne substances like carbon monoxide, chlorine or even chemical warfare agents?

The public would have a new level of personal protection against a range of fairly common airborne chemical-based toxins, as well as against terrorist attacks involving WMDs. And when sensor data is harnessed in an environmental sensing network for first responders and other organizations, it will be the dawn of a new era for disaster preparedness. 


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Recent Disaster Preparedness Videos

Stephen Meer, one of the founders of Intrado, Inc of Denver, Colorado, indicates that his company provides services and products to the 9-1-1 infrastructure, which he says is a very complicated ecosystem with lots of different constituent groups. The 9-1-1 infrastructure is like an iceberg, he says, with a little piece that delivers services to the public that is above the water line, and a massive infrastructure under the water line that supports it in operating seamlessly, continuously, dealing with all the regulations and issues in the world of public safety communications.

Mike Bostic of Raytheon points out that he spent 34 years as an Assistant Chief in the LAPD, where he worked about a third of that time in technology  and communications. And one thing he learned from his LAPD experience is that everything the military needs, so does public safety. But Raytheon is in the business of solving operational problems rather than selling boxes and devices, he says, and as a systems integrator the company sells solutions to specific sets of problems.

Kevin Madden discusses the nation’s first demonstrated multi-vendor interoperable Public Safety Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, which was deployed by a consortium of companies including Cisco and Raytheon during the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL.

Spillman Technologies is a vendor of public safety software used by law enforcement, fire and emergency management agencies, according to Dave Snyder. The company provides an integrated solution and specializes in multi-jurisdictional assignments involving agencies that want to collaborate with other agencies with information systems in large geographic areas. Snyder points out that the company has been in business for almost 30 years and has an extraordinary degree of stability, and its customers can count on major upgrades each year at no cost.

ESRI is the innovator of GIS, or Geographic Information Systems, which Paul Christin describes as a way of managing information and understanding it geographically, or plotting information, visualizing the data, and analyzing the dots to make sense out of the data. The company sells to 40 verticals, one of which is homeland security. Christin describes how GIS technology is used for planning major events, such as political conventions or the recent NATO conference in Chicago.

New Products

Add Jerusalem-based Identa Corp. to the handful of companies that issued statements in the wake of the failed...

Legalzoom.com, an online legal service, and Donate Life America (DLA), a non-profit organization, have created and are offering ICE App, intended to help users input the compreh...

Cambridge, MA-based MetaCarta, Inc., a provider of geographic search solutions, has announced the launch...

Waukesha, WI-based Magnasphere reports that its new high-security sensor, HSS, has completed its UL inspections and is r...