Friday, September 2, 2011

FYI: Haiti study: Mass mobile phone tracking

Haiti study: Mass mobile phone tracking can be laudable

You'll wish the gov had huge snoop powers - in a quake

A new study uses the movements of mobile phones during the Haiti earthquake, and cholera epidemic, to accurately show where people went during the disasters, and where help should be delivered.

Studying location data stored by Haiti's biggest network operator, Digicel, Swedish boffins got more accurate estimates of population movements over the period of both earthquake and epidemic than rescue workers on the ground, demonstrating the value of anonymous real-time tracking during national disasters.

The research is published in the peer-reviewed PLoS Medicine journal, and provides a detailed breakdown of the data gathered by the Swedish researchers (one of whom was American, to be fair).

It might seem obvious that the location of every mobile phone would tell you where the population was, but proving that required extensive analysis of the data, as well as adjustments for the penetration of mobile telephones and the demographic differences involved.

The first problem is that not everyone in Haiti has a mobile. The earthquake study tracked 1.9 million SIMs, having discarded numbers that had not made a call in the preceding month (to exclude rescue workers) and those that did not make a call afterwards (euphemistically described as "lost").

Around 200,000 of those SIMs exited Port-au-Prince following the earthquake, which, given the mobile penetration of just under one-third, multiplies up to 630,000 people leaving the capital.

That tallies well with official UN figures, compiled through questionnaires following the disaster, but diverges from estimates made at the time (which were based on a counting of buses on the roads exiting the town).

Even more interesting were the results from the cholera epidemic, which were compiled in less than 12 hours and demonstrated that such a process could provide real-time advice to healthcare workers and governments in containing and treating, as well as tracking, outbreaks.

The researchers suggest that localised SMS could have been used to advise people within affected areas, or to discourage them from travelling elsewhere, as well as to let the authorities know where problems might surface next.

That does, of course, require close integration between the operators' systems and those of the government, which will make many people uncomfortable. Real-time tracking, even by cell site, would have been valuable (for example) to the police during the recent UK riots. That data is already being used retrospectively to work out where people were, and with better integration it could show where people are.

The Chinese government recently launched a research project working out how such data could be effectively used in urban planning and traffic management, but if it were to be available in real-time it could also be used to police demonstrations, football matches and all sorts.

This needn't be an invasion of privacy – anonymous data is still valuable – but we have to decide, as a society, if we think that allowing governments access to the location of their citizens is a risk worth taking in exchange for the benefits it gives. ®

FYI: Volunteers Help Rebuild Hackleburg

Rebuilding is underway in Alabama following the April 2011 tornadoes and severe storms. Habitat for Humanity and AmeriCorps volunteers are working in Hackleburg to erect new housing. Voluntary agencies are a vital partner in helping communities recover after a disaster. For more updates on ongoing recovery efforts in Alabama, visit the state's disaster page
Length: ‎1:46

FYI: 7.1 magnitude earthquake strikes off Alaska

7.1 magnitude earthquake strikes off Alaska

Tsunami warning issued for Aleutian Islands

A tsunami warning is in effect for parts of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake was recorded in the ocean.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake struck in the waters at about 6:55 a.m. ET, and there are no initial reports of injuries or damage.

The tsunami warning is in effect for coastal areas of Alaska from Unimak Pass to Amchitka Pass.
The areas are very remote and not heavily populated, according to Jessica Sigala, a geophysicist with the USGS in Golden, Colo.

Reuters reported that The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said it did not see a threat of a widespread destructive tsunami.

The quake struck 107 miles southeast of Atka, Alaska, at a depth of 22.1 miles.

FYI: Disaster No-Go For Elk Grove Village, Illinois

Disaster No-Go For Elk Grove Village

Posted: Thursday, September 1, 2011 1:57 pm | Updated: 3:29 pm, Thu Sep 1, 2011.
Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson expressed disappointment upon learning the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) would not declare a disaster for heavy flooding that occurred on July 23.

No disaster declaration means no county, state or federal assistance to the village for flood damages and no financial assistance to residents whose damages exceed their insurance costs.

Johnson said he was counting on a 75% reimbursement for $185,000 in damages the village sustained in the storm including major damage to one ambulance, one fire engine, three police squad cars and building damage. Close to 7 inches of rain fell in about three hours in the early morning of Saturday, July 23.

Cook County Dept. of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Executive Director Michael Masters told the Journal IEMA's review found damages from the July 23 storm "insufficient for the process to move forward for federal assistance."

Elk Grove Village submitted a report to county department late last month saying 96 properties, 84 single-family homes, 10 multi-family residential buildings and two commercial or industrial properties saw basement flooding; and 33 properties suffered water damage up to the first floor, including 11 single-family homes, two multi-family properties, eight industrial, five commercial and six office units. Twelve properties also experienced other storm damage to vehicles, storage units and trees.

Because the City of Chicago's damages from the July 23 storm were minimal, the county and state did not reach the financial threshold of damage to qualify as a disaster area, according to well-informed sources.

FYI: Haiti: Market Inauguation
The U.S. Government, through USAID, inaugurated a market in Acul du Nord. The market was built in partnership with the Acul du Nord municipality as part of the U.S. Government's investment in Haiti's Northern region.

The Black Emergency Managers Association International support(s) the Sustainable Development Goals

The Black Emergency Managers Association International support(s) the Sustainable Development Goals

K12 Schools....From Reactive to Proactive to..... Watch the weather. Free Training Opportunity. SkyWarn Basic Class

Training opportunity provided by the National Weather Service T his training not only teaches what types of incidents wou...

..Haiti. We will not forget.


Mission is to increase the diversity of corporate America by increasing the diversity of business school faculty. We attract African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and Native Americans to business Ph.D. programs, and provide a network of peer support on their journey to becoming professors.