March 3, 2016 | 0 comments

Officials at the March 2 Defense, Development and Diplomacy Summit, dubbed D3, cautioned the audience about the pace of technology development in government; and worried that budget constraints and the inability to more seriously tackle the climate change issue could affect the pace of that progress. "Investments in technology are much more in the commercial side vs. defense," Frank Kendall, the Defense Department's undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said. "The amount of resources invested in new technology outside of the Department of Defense is huge." The State Department hosted the interagency event with DOD and the U.S. Agency for International Development taking an active role. "We need to break out the old patterns of the past," Rose Gottemoeller, the State Department's undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said during a panel discussion. She stressed the importance of leveraging technology, especially when it comes in her domain of arms control agreements. "We can't just throw up our hands in the arms control world and say we can't monitor these problems," she said. The day-long summit also featured presentations on a range of technology initiatives, including 3D construction printing at Afghanistan air bases for the military, sustainable microgrids, and an active-shooter protection system that would detect when shots are fired and signal responders. General Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint...

March 1, 2016 | 0 comments

The last damaging earthquake in Washington struck 15 years ago, on Feb. 28, 2001. The next one is scheduled for June 7. The ground isn’t expected to actually shake this spring. But nearly 6,000 emergency and military personnel will pretend it is during a four-day exercise to test response to a seismic event that will dwarf the 2001 Nisqually quake: A Cascadia megaquake and tsunami. Called “Cascadia Rising,” the exercise will be the biggest ever conducted in the Pacific Northwest. Which is fitting, because a rupture on the offshore fault called the Cascadia Subduction Zone could be the biggest natural disaster in U.S. history. “It’s really going to require the entire nation to respond to an event like this,” said Kenneth Murphy, regional director for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is coordinating the exercise. While the Nisqually earthquake measured magnitude 6.8, a Cascadia megaquake is likely to hit magnitude 9 — which is nearly 2,000 times more powerful. It will affect the entire West Coast from British Columbia to Northern California, including Seattle, Portland, Tacoma and Vancouver, B.C. The quake will be closely followed by tsunamis 30 feet high — or bigger — that will slam into oceanfront communities. The damage and casualty estimates in FEMA’s quake scenario are sobering:

• More than 10,000 fatalities, mostly due to the tsunami
• 30,000 injuries
• 7,000 highway bridges and 16,000 miles of highway with high to moderate levels of...

February 29, 2016 | 0 comments

Jeff Schweitzer was in Camp Shelby, Miss., days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and the U.S. Gulf coast in 2005. At the time he was an interoperability architect with the U.S. Army’s CIO/G-6 team, and was working to set up a communications hub at Camp Shelby to manage the emergency response. “We had 54 agencies that responded to that event—and it was obviously an utter disaster,” Schweitzer recalls. Now a chief innovation architect for Verizon, Schweitzer’s tackling the same sort of problem at the telecommunications giant: How to set up a pop-up communications network to quickly coordinate an emergency response effort, and how to do it while using the most modern tools the company has. That’s why Schweitzer returned to Camp Shelby last month to help Verizon complete a test of the newest device it plans to add to its response team—drones. When natural disasters strike, Verizon turns to the specialized workers of its Major Emergency Response Incident Teams. These are the people who head out in mobile command centers and satellite trucks to restore basic communications in the event tornadoes or hurricanes knock out power lines or destroy cell towers. Generally this is enough, but sometimes street signs are part of the carnage making it more challenging to navigate, or some disaster zones are so isolated it’s difficult to reach areas where help is needed the most. “How do you get people moving around when even the simple things we take for granted aren’t available...

February 29, 2016 | 0 comments

Seven Tube carriages have been partially buried under thousands of tonnes of rubble that poured into a station when a building collapsed. Hundreds of 'dead' bodies were today strewn across the horrifying scene of carnage, the victims of this major disaster. These are the traumatic sights that scores of emergency service were faced with as they took part in the first day of Europe's largest-ever disaster response training exercise. The scenario involves a tower block collapsing on to the bustling Waterloo Tube station, which has been partially built in a disused power station in Kent. Over the next four days, some 2,000 blood-covered volunteers will act as 'victims', with fake sliced limbs and open wounds recreating the blood and gore of such a large scale incident. Read more:

February 29, 2016 | 0 comments

Egypt has offered urgent food aid to help 100,000 drought victims in eastern Ethiopia via the World Food Program. The Egyptian aid is aimed at alleviating the suffering of the victims in Ethiopia, Secretary General of the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development Hazem Fahmy said in statements. "The move conveys a message of support and solidarity from Cairo to Ethiopia," he added. Director of the World Food Program office in Addis Ababa John Aylieff hailed the Egyptian aid, which was delivered at a highly sensitive time after the international community failed to offer adequate financial resources to provide emergency food aid to about 7.6 million Ethiopians. For his part, the chairman of Ethiopia's Disaster Commission thanked the government and people of Egypt for the move that would give wider horizons for bilateral relations: