November 26, 2013 | 0 comments

Nationally accepted standards for building design and construction, public shelters, and emergency communications can significantly reduce deaths and the steep economic costs of property damage caused by tornadoes. That is the key conclusion of a two-year technical investigation by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) into the impacts of the 22 May 2011 tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri. The recommendations are featured in a draft report issued for public comment today and announced at a press briefing held at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. A NIST release reports that the NIST study is the first to scientifically assess the impact of a tornado in four major categories: tornado characteristics, building performance, human behavior and emergency communication — and the impact of each on life-safety, the ability to protect people from injury or death. It also is the first to recommend that standards and model codes be developed and adopted for designing buildings to better resist tornadoes:

November 25, 2013 | 0 comments


11 Dec


November 25, 2013 | 0 comments

More than 50 InterAction members are part of the massive global response to help deliver life-saving assistance to families and communities affected by the catastrophic Typhoon Haiyan. To help build support for the considerable immediate and longer-term relief efforts, InterAction has partnered with the Ad Council in a national public service ad campaign to encourage Americans to help, while reminding them that monetary donations are the most effective way to give. The campaign, consisting of TV, radio, print and web-banner ads, directs people to, where they can contribute to InterAction’s list of member organizations responding to this crisis. Other partners include the Center for International Disaster Information, National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, The UPS Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Last week, President Obama also called on Americans to give generously to the Philippine relief effort, announcing a new donation site at, which features a link to InterAction’s crisis response list of members.

November 25, 2013 | 0 comments

The latest tallies of the human toll from Typhoon Haiyan are a daunting preview of the challenges ahead. Thirteen million people have been affected, four million of them displaced, and one million homes have been destroyed. Meanwhile, 2.5 million individuals now rely on food aid and around 7,000 people have been confirmed as dead or still missing. President Benigno Aquino had set a target of “zero casualties” as the storm bore down on the Philippines, but as the country reeled in the first few chaotic days after the storm, the government came under criticism for not doing enough to assess the extent of the devastation and get aid moving. Many people may have had the impression “the government was not doing anything” for the first few days, acknowledged presidential spokesman Edward Lacierda in a VOA interview. “We are an archipelago,” said Lacierda, a member of the cabinet of President Aquino. “We had to make sure that everything was done in the proper way, not to mention the fact that really this storm surge, the effect on Tacloban was quite huge and devastating.”
More at

November 25, 2013 | 0 comments

From Patrick Meier's iRevolution blog: The “Radio + SMS + Computing” project is firmly grounded in GSMA’s official Code of Conduct for the use of SMS in Disaster Response. I have also drawn on the Bellagio Big Data Principles when writing up the in’s and out’s of this initiative with Anahi. The project is first and foremost a radio-based initiative that seeks to answer the information needs of disaster-affected communities. The project: Local radio stations in the Philippines would create and broadcast radio programs inviting local communities to serve as “community journalists” to describe how the Typhoon has impacted their communities. The radio stations would provide a free SMS short-code and invite said communities to text in their observations. Each radio station would include in their broadcast a unique 2-letter identifier and would ask those texting in to start their SMS with that identifier. They would also emphasize that text messages should not include any Personal Identifying Information (PII) and no location information either. Those messages that do include PII would be deleted:!