Friday, May 31, 2013

The resilient organization needs to speak the language of technology

The evolution of technology and its pervasiveness are influencing our daily lives. As a result of this rapid evolution, many feel like they're jumping from the rotary phone to the smartphone and are still unsure of what 'the cloud' is, and if it's something that will affect the weather.

Because of our reliance on servers and a host of technological platforms to conduct day-to-day business, continuity planning for businesses is a growing concern given the importance economic recovery plays as a community gets back on its feet.

Techsoup, a nonprofit tech resource has put out 'The Resilient Organization: A guide for disaster planning and recovery,' this guide to planning for and responding to a disaster from an IT perspective will aid in the mitigation of the impacts of disasters on your IT infrastructure.

You know the frustration you feel when you get access your email? Well imagine the feeling of anger and helplessness when you can't conduct business because a [insert type of disaster here] has wrecked havoc on your IT hardware/software/access to services...

Do yourself a favor and skim it, and while you're at it check out the other resources Techsoup has to offer...they're a great resource.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The proof is in the analytics and sweet infographic

While saying: "Social Media is a big deal and we need to start paying attention," it's interesting to see statistical data gleaned from the real world to back it up.

In addition to the below infographic (compliments of USF's MPA program), Patrick Meier posted a breakdown of the 2.1 million tweets in the first 48 hours after the Moore tornado...providing data that will reaffirm your burgeoning love affair with social platforms.

University of San Francisco Online Master of Public Administration

Monday, May 27, 2013

Show me the money...

While not all disasters are created equal in terms of news coverage, scope of damage, and economic impact, etc...the desire to do something is powerful, and oftentimes that desire manifests itself in the form of making a monetary donation.

The knee-jerk reaction is to donate to the Red Cross, a response that can be seen in the high profile donations of Kevin Durant, Carrie Underwood, The Oklahoma Thunder, and Chesapeake Energy Corp. Following the Moore tornado, the Red Cross has received more than $15 million in donations which underscores the power donations have following an event. However, with the advent of crowdfunding sites, the landscape of how people donate money to response & recovery is beginning to change. With a stronger emphasis being placed on accountability, speed, and impact, donors are looking at new ways to ensure their donations go to the people who need it as expeditiously as possible.

This shift towards a higher degree of accountability and results reporting is best illustrated by the authority in non-profit rankings, Charity Navigator. They are introducing additional metrics as part of their ratings to include timely, detailed donor reporting on fund allocation and program impacts. To read more about the evolution of the non-profit rating system and how your charity of choice ranks, their site is a wealth of information.

In response to the donor desire for greater accountability and speed, sites like: indiegogo and gofundme are working to eliminate "the middle man" by empowering donors to give directly to impacted families. While donors feel a more direct connection, the potential for fraud increases significantly due to the fact that anyone can claim to be a survivor and need help.

With the understanding that millions of dollars are flowing into communities following disasters, coupled with the perception that traditional aid is too clunky and bureaucratic, I believe there will be a rapid proliferation of direct giving tools and applications aimed at shifting donations to impacted communities from traditional aid structures.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Donate Responsibly

Often referred to as the second disaster, the wave of unsolicited donations, usually in the form of used clothing can tie up key personnel and physical resources that would otherwise be allocated to other key response activities.

As you choose how best to help the communities impacted by the recent severe weather events in Texas and Oklahoma, please remember that cash is king.

Preparedness and Learning from Experience

Granbury, TX May 2013

Springtime in the US is a time for renewal and growth. It's also a time when warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico collides with Arctic air channeled down by the Rockies from Canada to create some of the most powerful storms nature can produce. The map shows all of the tornado strikes from 1950-2006, what it doesn't show is how the repeated strikes have changed the mentality of those who live in "tornado alley."

                          Moore, OK 2013                                  
This NY Times article asks important questions of why more people run outside to film an oncoming tornado than run inside or underground to protect their loved ones and family members? There is no simple answer, but one big reason is that many don't have a safe room or storm shelter to run to.      

For at least the third time in 14 years, federal     money (taxpayer money) will be funneled to help Moore get back on its feet with initial estimates at $2 Billion in costs. While it's encouraging to read that the Mayor of Moore wants new building codes instituted that require safe rooms, why is reform so slow and in such a piece meal fashion given the historical data available?

If repeated loss of life and property are the only catalysts that will effect change at a local level, then changing how states receive federal aid should be considered; putting additional requirements on federal aid to show how and on what mitigation dollars are going towards will be a tangible step towards creating and reinforcing resilience at a local level. Stopping tornados is impossible, but applying what has been learned to make families safer and communities more resilient with the resources available isn't.