Friday, October 25, 2013

Grassroots emergency management - a new how-to guide

The last few years have seen an amazing shift in how information is shared in our everyday lives, and also in disaster situations. We're just starting to understand the impact of social media, websites, smartphones and other new technologies (for example, through the Social Media for Emergency Management (SMEM) community. But navigating it all is hard - for emergency management professionals, and even more so for the general public who are not used to thinking about disasters daily. Further, some of the tools used in emergency management, like hazard analysis and exercise planning can be adapted for individuals, to understand the risks they face, and how what resources they would use to help them if different kinds of events happen. So one of my passions is "grassroots emergency management" - enabling individuals, families, and small communities to do their own emergency management.

To this extent, I've created a new low cost eBook and associated website called Surviving Disasters in a Global Technology Age ( This is really meant as a "how to" guide for individuals and families to begin their own process of emergency planning. The guide includes chapters on disaster psychology - understanding situational awareness and how mental states play into it; disaster planning - not just having a "go kit" but doing hazard analysis, mitigation, and tabletop exercises for a home; infrastructure independent technologies - practically covering a host of technologies less familiar to our modern lifestyle but which could be critical "when the lights go out" - from shortwave and mediumwave PEP radio stations through weather radios, FRS/GMRS and GPS trackers; online resources and smartphone apps including crisis mapping, using social media, news aggregation tools, and apps; and finally how people can join digital volunteer communities such as Virtual Operations Support Teams (VOSTs).

Obviously I can't cover everything, but my hope is that the book and website can be a "one stop" starter guide to get members of communities thinking the right way about emergency planning and technology. I am also developing the website to include free resources - right now there is a list of links and resources in the above areas that are referenced in the book; I'm also developing tutorial videos to be used alongside the site and book (right now there is just one up there, on developing a personal hazard analysis).

Please take a look at and let me know if you think this would be useful in your community, how I could make it more useful, and any comments or questions you have!