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October 16, 2013 | 0 comments

A recent forum hosted by the Reserve Officers Association in Washington addressed the use of drones in peace and stability operations. Attendees noted the possibility of expanded roles for these systems is growing rapidly, which also raises a number of questions: How are they going to be maintained? What happens to the data they collect? Where can they fly and under what conditions? Four times a year inventors, NGOs and others in the UAV industry gather at Camp Roberts, a National Guard post in central California, to test their products in rugged field conditions. It allows them to work “through their problems, and we talk to each other,” said Sam Bendett, who works on unmanned aerial systems research and development at NDU. “It’s a safe place to fail,” he added, noting that those who come to the exercises understand that it’s “better to be broken there than when you’re deploying.”
More at http://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/2013/10/commentary-drones-arent-jus...

October 16, 2013 | 0 comments

Hurricane Isabel was a watershed for Richmond-based Dominion Virginia Power and state emergency managers. "It was transformational in every way for all of us," said Rodney Blevins, Dominion Virginia Power's vice president for distribution operations. In the widespread scope of its impact, the 2003 storm was the worst natural disaster Virginia has ever sustained, said Michael Cline, the state's coordinator of emergency management. Isabel hit Virginia on Sept. 18-19, 2003, and left in its wake more than 2 million electricity customers without power, $1.6 billion in property damage, 36 storm-related fatalities, and more than 10,400 damaged or destroyed homes and businesses. Simply clearing away the debris took 660,000 dump-truck loads.
More at http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Isabel-Transformational-Virginia-E...

September 26, 2013 | 0 comments

Black smoke from cooking stoves used in many developing countries is not only a serious health hazard that disproportionately affects women, it is also a major contributor to the increasing temperature of the atmosphere, and the subsequent decline of glaciers around the world. As a response to this problem, a new clean stove cooker has been developed in India by a Delhi research institute called TERI. The clean alternative has already been put to use in the town of Tanda in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Capable of reducing smoke by 80%, there are plenty of other features that make this cooker a godsend for people in developing nations. More at http://inhabitat.com/new-cooker-reduces-smoke-by-80-and-safeguards-himal...

September 26, 2013 | 0 comments

The day before Superstorm Sandy struck the Northeast last fall, Sarah Romulo and her family left their home in Rockaway Beach, N.Y. They did not feel comfortable sitting tight, blocks from the boardwalk that faces the Atlantic — not with the warnings they were hearing and with their two kids, a 15-year-old and 2-year-old. With an evacuation order in place, they went to stay with Sarah’s mother-in-law in Queens Village, about 20 kilometers inland. From there, Sandy felt like “just a little windstorm, it seemed like nothing,” Romulo recalls. But television news showed the unfolding devastation, as the storm made landfall on Oct. 30. “We felt so helpless, not knowing what was happening” with the family’s home and business, a martial arts gym a few blocks from their house. When they got back to their property a few days after the storm, they found that the basement in their house had flooded; meanwhile, their gym had been filled with at least two meters of water. More at http://www.earthmagazine.org/article/hurricane-any-other-name-how-sandy-...

September 25, 2013 | 0 comments

Twitter wants to bolster its position as a go-to source of information during emergencies and other crises with a new notifications feature. Twitter Alerts is designed to let credible organizations enhance the visibility of certain tweets when other communications services are not available. It is intended for crises, disaster and emergency communications such as warnings of imminent dangers, preventive instructions, evacuation directions and crowd management. "Twitter Alerts is a new way to get accurate and important information when you need it most," Twitter product manager Gaby Pena said Wednesday. More than 100 nongovernmental organizations and government agencies in the U.S., Japan and Korea are participating in the program. In the U.S., those groups include the American Red Cross, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
More at http://www.pcworld.com/article/2049390/twitter-partners-with-fema-americ...