Bandanas and earrings: My memories of Sept 11, 2001

Camp Unity loglI have the utmost respect for the people in New York who worked in and responded to the towers. For the people near the Pennsylvanian field. For the people who were saved, and for the people who tragically lost their lives. I remember that 9/11 ended horrifically for many people in three locations, and the people who knew and loved them are all over the country and around the globe. For me, my memories of 9/11 is the Pentagon.

As write, it is late at night on September 11, 2009. I’ve been thinking on and off today about where was eight years ago. I passed someone in the hallway at work and she said “happy anniversary, we met eight year ago today.” Another friend reflected to eight years ago on Facebook and my simple comment back was “bandanas and earrings 🙂 .” I hear other people’s stories about their experiences and many center around watching TV for days and weeks straight. I didn’t watch much TV during September, and I didn’t see the constant replay of the tragedy. I believe am lucky in that respect. I don’t consider my experience of September 2001 special, yet do feel I’m one of small cadre of people with perspective different than most. I spent the day of September 11, 2001 in the Arlington County Emergency Operations Center. Then spent the rest of September’s nights at location that became known as Camp Unity until the response and recovery phase was completed and the American Red Cross left the Pentagon parking lot.

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Using the military during disaster or emergency?

Decon in hazmat suitsI was pointed in the direction of the article The Pentagon Wants Authority to Post Almost 400,000 Military Personnel in the US on Twitter  It has some interesting facets around it — if you can get past the some people’s concern about the potential misuse of the President declaring an “emergency” to direct the military against the civilian population.

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Can home computers be protected?

Computer virus, worm and trojanI’ve recently been thinking about the concept that home computers make every end-user an administrator responsible for the building, maintenance, and security of their own system.  It also pits the inexperienced home user against creators of spam, worms, viruses and other mal-ware – who are generally very intelligent and experienced.  Does the average home computer really stand chance?

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What the ** is social media, one year later?

What the F is Social MediaI found this slideshow to be very quick way to catch up on the current statistics and penetration of social media.  This is great wake up for people who are doubting the effectiveness and use of social media.  While watching this, keep in mind that people will communicate through their regular channels that are available first during disaster.  This means that agencies and organizations that respond to disasters need to keep pulse on social media.

Satellite technology as reliable backup?

Satellite in spaceIn reading Andy Opsahi’s article Satellite Technology Provides Disaster Communications When Cell Towers Fail at, I was at first heartened with the statement:

Emergency managers know that having foolproof disaster communications plan is nothing more than fantasy.  That’s because even the most redundant backup strategies can leave responders unable to communicate.

Unfortunately, Andy missed two major drawbacks to satellite communications in the article that appears bias toward the positives of using satellite.  It isn’t surprising as they are frequently overlooked.  A clear view of the sky, and the spot beam capacity.  Although he was dead on when he said it was expensive.

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Recharging with Solar Power

Solar power panels in the sunSolar power has potential but have yet to see it realized. It is really quite a shame even though possibilities are promising. The best place for solar and other alternative sources of energy to shine (no pun intended) is during disaster. I’m thinking about this today because I’ve just finished testing Solio H1000. Here’s the promise of solar power during disaster: storm passed through and power has been cut off. You’ve been using your cell phone to reach your family and friends to let them know you are ok. Of course your cell phone didn’t get fully charged because the storm hit in the middle of the night and knocked the power out before it charged. You reach over to solar powered battery recharger and plug your cell phone in. The phone starts to charge. The solar panels are converting the sunlight to power for your cell phone, and you’re up and running again. Here’s the reality. You’ve kept the solar powered recharger in your closet, so the internal battery is dead when you pull it out. The manual you read shows that it needs couple days for it to get fully charged. Having really no other option, you put it in sunny spot hoping for the best and then start to do other things for the day. Continue reading Recharging with Solar Power

My two-cents.

Two CentsWhen people resort to the tactics of racial slurs, spitting, fear-mongering, vandalism, terrorism and violence; those actions validate the weakness of their integrity and argument, as well as baring their selfishness and ignorance.  Actions of few like this dilute the positive work of others — especially when it appears on the surface they have the same end goal.

And this applies across many situations.

Will text messaging work in disaster?

People texting on cell phonesAfter 2001, many people have been pushing the benefits of text messaging over voice phone call to get message through. Experience shows that text messaging is more reliable to get message through but it is not the perfect alternative means to contact someone that it is implied to be. Nine years ago, relatively few people used their cell phones to send text messages. Times have changed.

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Satellite Evolution Group interview (Nov/Dec 2008)

The following text is from an interview that did with Satellite Evolution.  They are UK-based company in case you are wondering about any of the spelling.  The original text is posted at on their website.

Satellite communications: helping millions

The Red Cross of America is humanitarian association that helps millions of people year recover from disasters across the world.  The use of satellite communications within the humanitarian sector has seen marked rise in recent years.  Helen Jameson spoke to Keith Robertory, Disaster Services Technology Manager for the American Red Cross to find out how the organisation is using satellite based technology and why.

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Is rugged equipment worth the cost?

A lot of vendors assume that if you respond to disasters that you need ruggedized equipment.  They must have a picture in their head of my colleagues heading into disaster zone with satellite phone in-hand, military spec ruggedized laptop under the arm, BGAN in the backpack with an intention of sitting down in the mud and rain to work. Truth of the matter is that the answer is simply “it depends.” And I hear the collective groan from everyone reading this that simply and it depends should never be used together in the same sentence. 

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