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Jon Seals

Thursday, 06 November 2014 16:54

How GIS Can Aid Emergency Management

Susan L. Cutter is a Carolina Distinguished professor of geography at the University of South Carolina where she directs the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute. Her primary research interests are in the area of disaster vulnerability/resilience science — what makes people and the places where they live vulnerable to extreme events and how vulnerability and resilience are measured, monitored and assessed.

Cutter is a GIS hazard mapping guru who supports emergency management functions. I posed a series of questions about mapping and asked her to respond in writing. In Cutter’s responses she reminds us to ask the “why of the where” question when looking at maps.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/How-GIS-Can-Aid-Emergency-Management.html

NEW YORK – Send Word Now, the leading worldwide innovator of critical communications technologies, including emergency notification, desktop alerting and integrated incident management, today announced the deployment of its award-wining Alerting Service by Canadian, low-cost carrier, WestJet Airlines Ltd. (WJA, Toronto Stock Exchange).

WestJet, headquartered in Calgary with an eastern hub in Toronto, offers scheduled flight service to more than 90 destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe. Through its subsidiary, WestJet Encore, and with partnerships with airlines representing every major region of the world, the company offers guests more than 120 destinations in over 20 countries.

WestJet employs more than 10,000 individuals, and recently ranked third in Aon Hewitt's best employers in Canada. The airline was also designated as a J.D. Power Customer Service Champion in 2011, only one of two companies in the country to ever make the distinguished list.

With Send Word Now's Alerting Service, which replaced an on-premise, proprietary notification system, WestJet can immediately send voice and text messages to management, employees and other stakeholders as documented within its emergency preparedness and response plan. The Get Word Back feature allows the airline to gather crucial feedback, easily escalating communications to mobilize personnel as available and as needed.

WestJet also utilizes Send Word Now's Self-Registration Portal, through which message recipients can easily add, update and maintain their own emergency contact information.

"Every day, passengers entrust WestJet to safely reach their travel destinations," said Lorin Bristow, Senior Vice President, Marketing, for Send Word Now. "And, every day this first-class organization entrusts us for their critical communications needs. We are exceedingly grateful for the opportunity to serve them, and support their vision of becoming one of the most successful international airlines in the world."

About Send Word Now
http://www.sendwordnow.com/ | 212.379.4900 | 800.388.4796 | marketing@sendwordnow.com
Media inquiries: Linda Young | lyoung@sendwordnow.com | 615.295.6368
Follow us on:  TwitterLinkedIn and Facebook

Headquartered in New York City, Send Word Now is the leading provider of on-demand alerting for crisis communication. The company's easy-to-use, web-based emergency notification solutions and mobile applications are used by businesses, government agencies, universities and non-profit organizations worldwide to ensure fast, effective, two-way communication when it is needed the most.

Among its many accolades, Send Word Now was named a 'Leader' in Gartner's 2014 Magic Quadrant for U.S. Emergency/Mass Notification Services. Its Alerting Service was recently awarded "Notification System of the Year" by DRI International, and the company received the 2013 Small Business Achievement Award from the Department of Homeland Security for its work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Matrix42 simplifies Enterprise Mobility Management and completes its ‘single pane of glass' Workspace Management vision

LONDON, ENGLAND – Matrix42 (www.matrix42.com), a top provider of software for workspace management, today announced that it had completed the acquisition of Silverback, the Australian enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendor. Organizations can now simplify the inherent complexity of Enterprise Mobility Management, and extend that simplicity across all their workspaces and IT environments through the Matrix42 Workspace Management solution suite.

As Europe's most innovative workspace management solution vendor, Matrix42 is committed to building solutions that make life easier for the people that deliver, manage and use corporate IT. From today, that ‘simplicity first' approach is being extended into the mobile environment via the acquisition of Silverback, and the launch of the new Silverback by Matrix42 Enterprise Mobility Management solution.

Acquisition drivers
Explaining the reasons behind the acquisition, Matrix42 CEO Jochen Jaser said, "For some time, we have been aware that many EMM vendors are responding to the increasing complexity of enterprise mobility by making their products more complex. We saw that as an opportunity to offer organizations an alternative: greater simplicity in managing and using mobile IT. That's why we began looking for a partner that could:

  • Help us champion our customers' desire for simplicity, compared with vendors that have strayed into complexity and lost focus on customer needs
  • Embed mobility more deeply into the Matrix42 portfolio, in order to meet a broader range of our customers workspace management needs
  • Strengthen our credibility with customers as a vendor offering smart, best-of-breed solutions based on our own intellectual property

We found the ideal company in Silverback. Its management team shares our vision of enabling simplicity in corporate IT management, and going beyond multi-device workspaces towards creating the workspace of the future: Enabled by the integration of mobile, physical and virtual workspace management with IT service management and compliance, all within a single, easy-to-use solution. Not only that, Silverback's strong, loyal and growing installed base of customers, including major financial services companies in the Asia Pacific region, will now be able to take part in this exciting revolution."

Benefits for Matrix42 customers
Silverback CEO John Georgopoulos added, "It was important for us to partner with an organization that understood the importance of successfully crossing the chasm between security and simplicity, in order to make mobility really work for organizations. As a result of this acquisition, Matrix42 customers will get:

  • Easier management of mobile IT that gives users a consistent, familiar and flexible experience, while controlling usage and costs
  • A streamlined, scalable approach with no proprietary proxy servers creating bottlenecks, cost and points of failure
  • Security that protects each user's privacy, while fulfilling corporate security policies

Silverback customers can now extend the innovation and simplicity they already get from us in the mobile space across all their physical, virtual, mobile and cloud-based IT environments. In fact, what they get is a uniquely complete, zero-touch approach to workspace aggregation and management."

As a result of this acquisition, Matrix42 is in a unique position: They can enable organizations in Europe, Asia Pacific and beyond to manage all their workspaces and devices through a ‘single pane of glass', from both a technical and business perspective. This will help them all to benefit from faster technology rollouts, reduced IT management workloads, a better experience for users, and a lower total cost of ownership.

"We're looking forward to leveraging our strengthened software portfolio for the benefit of our customers and partners, as we realize our vision of smarter workspaces and a better life for everyone", concluded Jaser.

About Matrix42

Matrix42 is a top provider of software for workspace management. The company offers forward-thinking solutions for modern working environments under its ‘Smarter workspace’ motto. More than 2,500 customers around the world, including BMW, Infineon and Carl Zeiss, currently manage approximately 2.5 million workstations using Matrix42’s workspace management solutions. Matrix42 operates successfully in six countries – Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Sweden. The company’s headquarters are in Neu-Isenburg, near Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Founded in 1992, the company has been part of the Asseco Group, one of Europe's largest software providers, since 2008. Matrix42’s products and solutions aim to provide and manage modern working environments, physical, virtual or mobile workspaces, simply and efficiently. Matrix42 focuses on user orientation, automation and process optimization. The company’s solutions optimally meet both the requirements of modern employees who want to work from any location using a wide variety of devices and the company’s IT operations itself.

Matrix42 offers its solutions to organizations across different sectors who value forward-looking and efficient workspace management. The company successfully leverages close relationships with partners such as Incit Technology, TAP Desktop Solutions GmbH, Consulting4IT GmbH and DSP IT Service GmbH, who provide local implementation and support services to Matrix42 customers.

For further information, visit www.matrix42.com

THE WOODLANDS, Texas – In response to increased market demand, Global Shop Solutions, a global leader in the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software industry, announces the opening of its new office in Sydney, Australia. Working in tandem with the Global Shop Solutions’ Jakarta, Indonesia location, the Sydney office will primarily serve as a sales, service, and consulting hub for the company’s growing customer base throughout Australia, New Zealand and Asia Pacific. Located in the heart of North Sydney, the new office will also provide a central location for customer training as well as educational events for interested manufacturers.
 
“With the rapid growth of manufacturing in Australia, particularly in the mining and woodworking industries, more companies are turning to ERP software to cut costs and streamline operations,” says Dusty Alexander, CEO of Global Shop Solutions. “The Sydney office will enable us to strengthen the personal touch for our Asia Pacific customers that our customers in the U.S., Latin America and elsewhere expect and value from us.”
 
Veteran Global Shop Solutions employee William William has been selected to head up the Sydney office. A native of Pekanbaru, Indonesia, William has more than 10 years’ experience working with companies to implement ERP software, and has held engineering and management positions in several U.S. and Asian manufacturing companies.
 
“Our software is designed by manufacturing people for manufacturing people,” adds Alexander. “William’s cross-cultural background and extensive experience with manufacturing ERP implementations make him ideally suited to leading our Australian and Asia Pacific operations.”


About Global Shop Solutions
Global Shop Solutions, the only provider of One-System ERP Solutions™ designed to streamline operations, has helped hundreds of discrete manufacturers increase sales, improve quality and on-time delivery, and lower costs. Global Shop Solutions is headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas, with offices in major cities throughout the United States, Mexico, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia, serving customers in a variety of industries throughout the world. Global Shop Solutions’ unique combination of manufacturing knowledge, software expertise and commitment to customer service has produced more successful implementations than any of its competitors in the industry. For manufacturing companies that want to provide better and faster service to their customers, gain more control over their business and accelerate growth and profitability, Global Shop Solutions is the ERP software of choice.

For more information please visit www.globalshopsolutions.com.

Wednesday, 05 November 2014 17:15

Email and Stress in the Workplace

According to a 2012 McKinsey study reported by Chui and colleagues, employees on average spend 28% of their workday reading and responding to email. Digging deeper into the amount of email usage, Jennifer Deal describes a 2013 study that surveyed a group of executives, managers and professionals (EMPs) and found that 60% of EMPs with smartphones are connected (primarily via email) for 13.5 hours or more per workday and spend about five hours connected during the weekend. This amounts to a 72-hour workweek.

In response to this hyper-connectedness the German automaker Daimler (maker of Mercedes-Benz) provides vacationing employees with an unusual extension to the automatic out-of-office response. As usual, the response states the employee is on vacation and provides an alternative contact person. But then, the Daimler system goes a step further and “poof” the sender’s e-mail is automatically deleted from the vacationer’s inbox. Daimler’s intent is to let the employee “come back to work with a fresh spirit.” Volkswagen and Deutsche Telekom also have policies that limit e-mails.

...

http://www.riskmanagementmonitor.com/email-and-stress-in-the-workplace/

EATONTOWN, N.J. – The process of recovering from a disaster begins almost as soon as the threat has passed and responders have arrived. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people will need help immediately as well as for the foreseeable future. Non-governmental volunteer groups, churches and faith-based organizations are often among the first to step in and help, but also have limited resources to sustain their presence.

In 13 New Jersey counties affected by Hurricane Sandy, many of these organizations came together to form long-term recovery groups (LTRGs), and Federal Disaster Recovery Coordination (FDRC; regionally referred to as Federal Interagency Regional Coordination) connects these groups to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA Voluntary Agency Liaisons (VAL) support the LTRGs as they address the unmet needs of individuals that they can help with, in contrast to FIRC’s emphasis on communities as a whole.

While a few groups had come into existence after Hurricane Irene struck in 2011, many LTRGs were formed in the immediate aftermath of Sandy. The VALs assisted in getting some of the groups launched, using the VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) manual and other toolkits to bring representatives together.

There are 14 active groups in New Jersey in 13 counties (Atlantic City has its own group separate from Atlantic County). These long-term recovery groups mainly consist of and represent faith-based and nonprofit organizations that have resources to assist survivors.

“Survivors that are still not back in their homes need things like rental assistance, construction assistance and help filling funding gaps, and members of the LTRGs seek to provide those resources and guidance,” said Susan Zuber, VAL for the New Jersey Sandy Recovery Field Office. She also said that one advantage of having religious organizations involved in the LTRGs is “they can reach up to the national level and potentially get funds and resources.”

Along with investigating the issues communities are facing during recovery, FIRC coordinates information and resources to affected survivors, so they can determine where help is available.

“The LTRG disaster case managers strive to make sure various resources get to the people they know need help, and FIRC helps them ensure that there is no duplication of benefits,” Zuber said. “We assist in being the best stewards possible of limited available funds.”

FIRC VAL Lori Ross says that nearly two years after Sandy struck, the LTRGs are still actively helping survivors with some serious issues.

“New Jersey 211 (the state’s resource hotline) is receiving (an average of) 44 new referrals for help every week,” she said. “The Ocean and Monmouth county groups have started receiving requests for rental assistance” as people who had been renting properties while their homes were repaired or rebuilt are in need of more money to pay their rent and mortgage, she added. Mold in homes that wasn’t dealt with properly initially continues to be an issue.

Not all of the problems survivors are facing are of a physical nature, either.

“We’re also seeing more cases where people are asking for mental and emotional assistance,” Zuber said. “We’re getting requests for clergy and mental health treatment. There’s a real emotional and spiritual care element as it relates to the impact of the storm.”

Ross added that even caregivers and case workers are feeling the pressure of what is now a two-year process. “This (the anniversary) is a very critical time,” she said, noting that requests for this type of aid increased at this time last year as well.

Rebuilding after a disaster the magnitude of Hurricane Sandy takes years. FEMA, the FIRC, and the long-term recovery groups of New Jersey are using coordinated teamwork and resources to help people put their lives back together.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Follow FEMA online at www.twitter.com/FEMASandywww.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/FEMASandy, www.facebook.com/fema, www.fema.gov/blog, and www.youtube.com/fema. Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.”

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A newly published report from the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) highlights that, while overall results indicate a good uptake of emergency communications planning, a significant minority remain passive or have difficulty securing management buy in. It is worrying to note that among those organisations without an emergency communications plan, two-thirds (63.4%) of them would only consider adopting one after a business changing event, a bit like shutting the stable door once the horse has bolted. This could have dire consequences as previous BCI research suggests that business affecting events may often severely affect an organisation’s viability.

Supported by Everbridge, the report concludes that emergency communications remains an essential part of any BC programme and this research demonstrates that while a great majority of companies are aware of its importance, there are some gaps in implementation that need to be addressed. In order to be effective, emergency communications plans must be continuously updated to reflect the risks that a business faces and be embedded well enough within the organisation. Relevant training and education programmes, as well as ensuring top management buy in, are necessary in promoting a culture of awareness and reducing the risk of communications failure during incidents.
Further findings from the report include:

  • In a sign of growing awareness, only less than 13.5% of organisations surveyed do not have an emergency communications plan.
  • Emergency communications plans are quite comprehensive in their scope. At least 70% of organisations have plans covering the following threats: IT outages (81.2%), fire (77.8%), power outages (76.2%), weather related incidents (75.6%), natural disasters (74.9%) and security related incidents (70.0%). These mirror the top three causes of business disruption as reported by respondents in the last 12 months: IT outages (59.8%), power outages (51.6%) and weather related incidents (47.2%).
  • Almost a fifth of respondents (18.7%) belong to organisations where more than 500 staff members travel internationally on a regular basis. More than 30% report travelling to ‘high-risk’ countries.
  • Almost two-thirds of companies (64.7%) report having training and education programmes in place related to emergency communications. Most have regularly scheduled programmes (64.2%).
  • Around 15% of organisations regularly schedule exercises of their emergency communications plans. Most schedule their exercises once a year (55.8%). This is a worrying finding considering that almost half of organisations are likely to invoke their plans more than once during any given year (49.6%)
  • More than 70% of organisations take 30 minutes or less to activate their emergency communications plans. Nonetheless, more than a quarter of organisations (27.4%) do not request responses from their staff in the event of an incident or have defined acceptable response rates (28.2%).
  • Social media appears to play an important role in an emergency communications plan. 42% of respondents report using social media to monitor their staff during emergencies and almost a third (31.6%) utilise it to inform stakeholders.

Patrick Alcantara, Research Associate at the BCI and author of the report, commented: “This survey is seen as the first step toward benchmarking an organisation’s emergency communications arrangements. It is hoped that it will allow companies to take a second look at their emergency communications capability and introduce improvements that will redound to their benefit. Given how emergency communications may improve survival during extreme situations, it is important that organisations take heed and aspire for a robust capability before it is too late.”

Imad Mouline, Chief Technology Officer at Everbridge, commented: “Fluctuating global threat levels, sophisticated cyber attacks and an ever growing mobile workforce present increasingly diverse and complex risks to business interests. In this unpredictable environment, Business Continuity Practitioners are consistently faced with the challenge to plan for the unexpected while ensuring the safety of their staff and communities and protecting their businesses from both financial loss and reputational damage. This survey provides a benchmark for Emergency Communication Planning.”

This is the first dedicated piece of research into understanding the Emergency Communications Plans of a wide range of organisations and learning how these are integrated within wider recovery programs. The results supports the anecdotal feedback from the industry, demonstrating that Emergency Communication Plans form an established, vital element of continuity plans for mid to large size enterprises while also offering some practical ideas for those looking to improve their capabilities in this area.

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A newly published report from the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) highlights that nearly a quarter respondents to a survey claimed their organisation had suffered losses of at least €1 million during the previous twelve months (up from 15% last year) as a result of supply chain disruptions. 13.2 percent suffered a one-off disruption that cost in excess of €1 million (up from 9% last year). The study also showed that 40 percent of respondents claimed their organisation was not insured against any of these losses while a 20 percent were only insured against half these losses.

Organisations cannot simply bury their heads in the sand and pretend an incident will never happen to them. The survey showed that 76 percent of respondents had experienced at least one supply chain disruption during the previous twelve months, yet a quarter of respondents (28 percent) still had no BC arrangements in place to deal with such an event.

Supported by global insurer Zurich, the report concludes that supply chain disruptions are costly and may cause significant damage to an organisation’s reputation. While the survey results indicate a growing awareness of BC and its role in ensuring supply chain resilience, many organisations have yet to improve on their reporting and BC arrangements. While budgets for business continuity and ensuring supply chain resilience are often slashed in favour of other priorities, this study demonstrates why this often might not be a wise course of action. With the growing cost of disruption worldwide and the potential reputational damage caused as a result of failing to have appropriate transparency in the supply chain, investments in this area are essential and can spell the difference when disaster strikes.
Further findings from the report include:

  • 78.6% of respondents do not have full visibility of their supply chains. Only 26.5% of organisations coordinate and report supply chain disruption enterprise-wide. 44.4% of disruptions originate below the Tier 1 supplier and 13% of organisations do not analyse their supply chains to identify the source of the disruption.
  • The primary sources of disruption to supply chains in the last 12 months were unplanned IT and telecommunications outage (52.9%), adverse weather (51.6%) and outsourcer service failure (35.8%).
  • The loss of productivity (58.5%) remains as the top consequence of supply chain disruptions for the sixth year running. Increased cost of working (47.5%) and loss of revenue (44.7%) are also more commonly reported this year and round out the top three.
  • Respondents reporting low top management commitment to this issue have risen from 21.1% to 28.6%. This is a worrying finding as low commitment is likely to coincide with limited investment in this key performance area.
  • The percentage of firms having BC arrangements in place against supply chain disruption has risen from 57.7% to 72.0%. However, segmenting the data reveals that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are less likely to have BC arrangements (63.9%) than large businesses (76.2%).

Lyndon Bird FBCI, Technical Director at the BCI, commented: “Should we be alarmed by some of the figures revealed in this survey? Perhaps so. Should we be surprised by them? Probably not. As long as organisations are failing to put business continuity mechanisms in place, and as long as top management is failing to give the issue the level of commitment it requires, supply chain disruptions will continue to occur and they will continue to cost the organisation dearly. In our globally connected world, these supply chains are becoming ever more complex and more action is needed to make sure that an incident in one organisation doesn’t become a crisis for another.”

Nick Wildgoose, Global Supply Chain Product Leader at Zurich Insurance Group, commented: “Top level management support is fundamental to driving improvement in supply chain resilience; I have witnessed the significant disruption cost reductions that have been achieved by companies that are proactive in this area. This should be regarded as business change programme in the context of driving value through Supplier Relationship Management” and becoming the customer of choice for your strategic suppliers to improve your business performance.”

Now into its sixth year, the BCI Annual Supply Chain Resilience Survey has established itself as an important vehicle to highlight and inform organisations of the importance of supply chain resilience and the key role it plays in achieving overall organisational resilience in today’s volatile global economic climate. The outcomes of previous surveys have provided organisations with critical insights and valuable information to support the development of appropriate strategic responses and approaches to mitigate the impact and consequences of disruptions within their supply chains.

Wednesday, 05 November 2014 17:02

Survey Details Show Big Data’s Disappointments

On the surface, you’d think Big Data has established itself as a popular and winning proposition for businesses. Consider these recent research findings:

By all accounts, Big Data initiatives would seem successful and on the way to becoming established business practice.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/integration/survey-details-show-big-datas-disappointments.html

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Icon Labs (www.iconlabs.com), a leading provider of embedded networking and security technology, today announced its Internet of Secure Things Initiative.

The Internet of Things has become a ubiquitous term to describe the tens of billions of devices that have sensing or actuation capabilities, and are connected to each other via the Internet. Until recently, security has not been a high priority for these devices.  It is now time to establish The Internet of Secure Things.

There has been a lot of discussion regarding the hacking of devices and systems to obtain information and data. However, just as critical are cyber-attacks against the devices themselves – attacks that take control and cause devices to operate in dangerous and insecure ways.

Unfortunately many of these systems – thought to be safe – are still vulnerable. For instance, even though Industrial Automation and Critical Infrastructure devices are usually installed inside the secure perimeter of an enterprise network, that perimeter is porous and can be easily penetrated or disabled. On top of that, insider threats, whether malicious or accidental, make up 70% of the attacks, and they usually originate inside that perimeter.

“Many of today’s modern embedded devices and systems are complex connected devices charged with performing critical functions,” says Alan Grau, CEO of Icon Labs.  “Including security in these devices is a critical design task.  Security features must be considered early in the design process to ensure the device is protected from the advanced cyber-threats they will be facing now as well as attacks that will be created in the future.  These are the steps to make your things fit into the Internet of Secure Things.”

In a recently published report by Gartner, they said that “Digital security leaders should collaborate with software and system developers to ensure security is intrinsic in architecture and approach. They must also incorporate the management and operational requirements for the embedded software and system security design, including security policy enforcement, access control policies, virtualization techniques, application security testing, quality assurance and areas for development.”  These capabilities provide the foundational requirements for the Internet of Secure Things.

The required security capabilities for the Internet of Secure Things initiative, described in Icon Labs’ new White Paper – “The Internet of Secure Things – What is Really Needed to Secure the Internet of Things?”, can be downloaded for free at http://www.iconlabs.com/sites/default/files/Internet%20of%20Secure%20Things.pdf.

Icon Labs delivers a full suite of security solutions to secure embedded and IoT devices and enabled Internet of Secure Things Initiative.  The Floodgate product family provides a security framework that is designed specifically for use in embedded and RTOS-based devices. Floodgate products support management system integration for policy management, event reporting and situational awareness. Icon Labs also provides solutions to harden the device, secure communication channels, and block DoS attacks. In addition to embedded security software and hardware solutions, Icon Labs provides professional services capabilities to accelerate customer deployments and facilitate unique implementation. Icon Labs helps you secure YOUR things.


About Icon Laboratories, Inc.

Icon Labs, a 2014 Gartner “Cool Vendor”, is a leading provider of embedded software for device security, device protection and networking management, including the award winning Floodgate Defender. Founded in 1992, Icon Labs is headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, visit www.iconlabs.com, send email to info@iconlabs.com, or call 1.888.235.3443 (U.S. and Canada) or 515.226.3443 (International).