Tornado Scare at the Pub

Tornado Scare at the Pub
Originally uploaded by eschipul

Fort Smith Arkansas. Killing a bit of time before going back to the hotel. Walking around taking pictures on Garrison Avenue in Fort Smith (see previous in series). It starts to rain a bit so I dash into the one open pub – Roosters.

The rain picks up a bit, but being from Houston I respectfully submit that I am more familiar with rain than the folks in Arkansas. We live in a swamp that got paved over for heaven’s sake! So there I am at the bar drinking a bud light. Listening to the locals and … well doing nothing.

A guy comes running back into the bar and hollers “Man, look at that!” referring to the rapidly picking up wind. The door to the bar being pulled open and the rain went horizontal in less than a minute. The speed was scary.

Next man says “funnel cloud” and “GET IN THE BASEMENT Y’ALL” – and (the rest of the story is on flickr here)

This Blog is Dead. Long Live This Blog.

Houston Transtar 2
Originally uploaded by eschipul

In September of 2005 I started blogging. It was a reaction, a response, to the events of Katrina hitting New Orleans. And the Houston response. We now know a city of 400k was reduced to 200k with many of those who left living in Houston. But I digress.

My first blog post on Emergency RSS is pasted below in its entirety. Two years later I must say that we haven’t made much progress towards this particular goal. More after the jump.

September 13, 2005

Emergency RSS Proposal

This blog, written by an amateur, will hopefully evolve to be interesting to
others as well as affect change on a global basis.   And the best way to
affect change globally is to start locally.   To pick up the cigarette
butt on the corner.   Cliche?   Sure, but damnit it works.

The biggest screamingly loud demand, need, I see in the world of
social software is a distributed method of responding to a crisis.   We
just had Katrina hit and she was a bitch by any measure.   Lives were
lost.   Pause on that sentence, lives were lost.   The most sacred thing
we are capable of creating or destroying, lives, were lost as a result
of poor human organizational skills.   I don’t want to know who accepts responsibility, I want to know that disaster is prevented before it occurs.

To that end I want to state that we need a simplified RSS type
system to track data in an emergency.   No one site can handle all
emergency response.   Even if it could it would create a single point of
failure.   We need something as simple as RSS, call it emergency RSS or
ERSS, to handle the needs that arise in an emergency.

Let me step back and repeat the basis for the need.   With Katrina,
which hit in 2005, what I observed were numerous sites heroically put
up, only to go down once they were picked up by the blogosphere and the
media.   Go here for help “¦ everyone does globally including the curious
from other countries “¦. Server dies.   Nobody gets help.   Next site is
suggested.   Repeat the process.

Yet when it comes to blogs and news we can easily replicate with RSS
our posts.   Even if one server went down, the outline of the content
would still be cached at feedburner or similar.   So if in time of
crisis 10 sites had relevant content of who is looking for what, who
needs what, who needs to be dispatched where, then if one goes down you
still have 9 sites up and replication of 100% of the content on each
node.   This is just like DNS.   I am not inventing anything here.   I am
just screaming that we should have this in place for times of crisis

Continue reading “This Blog is Dead. Long Live This Blog.”

New Article on – Emergency Response Tools for Every Day Systems

Just posted a new article on here. It has been a few months since I wrote a full article although the team has been charging forward. The beginning of the article is below followed by a link out to the full article. I’d love to hear your feedback here or through comments on the site below the original article.

Pop-Up Emergency Response Tool versus Enabling Every Day Systems

NOTE: For disclosure purposes, it’s important to point out that our company has a software product called Tendenci ®
that includes a first responder module and emergency response
capabilities. Whether an organization uses Tendenci or not, I believe
the key to effective emergency response is to use familiar tools that
are widely deployed and accessible.


It will be through
extensive training, experimentation, practice and repetition, with
lessons learned properly applied, that assumptions will be validated or
found faulty, concepts proven or rejected, and the theoretical molded
into the practical ““ that process alone will yield the best practices,
policies, and procedures required for the effective employment of new
technology (for emergency response).

Lt.Col. Mark Stanovich, USMCR, Emergency Readiness and Response Research  Center
“Network-Centric“ Emergency Response

As a resident and a corporate citizen of
Houston, I have kept a close eye on the progression of hurricane
season. Despite dire predictions, we’ve had only three named storms so
far. At this time last year, we were already up to our 12th named storm. So we are cautiously optimistic.

Unfortunately, I am less optimistic about
the ability of communities throughout the Gulf Coast to leverage
technology investments in their response to the storms that will
inevitably come. Too many are relying on technology tools that sit
dormant until an emergency is imminent rather than deploying
multi-functional technologies that integrate emergency response into
familiar tools.

I believe there is a significant danger
with emergency response tools that sit on the shelf until they are
needed. Primarily the danger lies in three areas: training, reach and

Full Emergency Response Tools Article here.