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Volume 29, Issue 3

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Jon Seals

Thursday, 07 April 2016 00:00

Three Reasons to Move to the Cloud

Given the amount of attention lavished on cloud computing these days, it’s tempting to dismiss the idea as Silicon Valley’s latest fad. To be sure, the excitement often bubbles over into hype.

The excitement is understandable given the way cloud computing is transforming business processes. Indeed, there are many compelling arguments for why a company should migrate its data assets to the cloud. Let’s take a closer look at my top three.

...

http://mspmentor.net/cloud-services/three-reasons-move-cloud

Thursday, 07 April 2016 00:00

Workflow Technology and HIPAA

Health care is continually challenged with properly managing information. Because it has traditionally operated in a paper-intensive environment, that struggle continues, even while most providers have begun to actively transition to electronic health record (EHR) systems. While work is being done to ensure that EHR systems are better able to “talk” to each other and to other health information systems, how can health care organizations streamline the day-to-day workflows still rooted in paper and in the need to print, copy, scan and fax innumerable paper documents?

Because virtually all health care organizations use electronic transactions of one form or another (for example, billing and payment) even their paper records are subject to the HIPAA privacy and security rules – a set of federal rules first adopted about 15 years ago and substantially revised in 2013 under the HITECH Act.  If health care organizations aren’t careful with how they use office devices, the risk of noncompliance can greatly increase. As a result, it is incumbent upon health care providers—regardless of size—to institute sound data handling practices.

To ensure compliance with HIPAA (and other data privacy and security rules), health care organizations must implement policies and procedures that are tailored to the work that they do, as well as to the size of their organization. HIPAA is not a one-size-fits-all regulatory regime, and best practices for data privacy and security programs demand attention to the specific operating environment of each and every health care provider.

...

http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/workflow-technology-hipaa/

If you take a look around everything is getting “smarter”. There are smart phones, smart watches, smart cars, and the list of smart devices is growing rapidly. As consumers, we expect that there will be more and more smart devices.

Recently, I went into an electronics store and asked if they had a smart device I could put on my dogs’ collar to check to see how much exercise he was getting. Moments after I asked the question, the store clerk looked at me as though I was from Mars and quickly replied, “We don’t have anything like that but it’s a good idea.” While the clerk wasn’t aware of a device to track my pets’ activity, I was able to determine, with a quick google search on my smart phone, that there are devices out there to track my dogs’ activities.

In fact, there are more smart devices and electronic gadgets on earth than people. However, just creating the device and producing the data isn’t good enough. We need to collect and process the data into information, which is what the Internet-of-Things paradigm is all about. Given the current state of IoT maturity and the desired state for IoT this means that we will need software design patterns expanded and developed upon for security, application programming frameworks, and information data models to name a few necessary improvements and features – which means that we will need smarter software defined data centers to support these new architectures and features.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/04/07/smarter-software-defined-data-center/

Push Notifications to Remind Users to Take Simple Steps to Prepare for Disasters, Provide Easy Access to Information on How to Be Ready for Fires, Severe Weather, and other Hazards

WASHINGTON – Today, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) launched a new feature to its free smartphone app that will enable users to receive push notifications to their devices to remind them to take important steps to prepare their homes and families for disasters. The reminder feature allows users to receive pre-scheduled safety and preparedness tips, including testing smoking alarms, practicing a fire escape plan, updating emergency kits and replacing smoke alarm batteries.

"Our lives are increasingly busy and on-the-go," said Deputy Administrator of Protection and National Preparedness Tim Manning. "Today, we turn to mobile devices and technology to help us stay more organized and connected. This new feature to FEMA’s app will make it easier for families to remember to take potentially life-saving actions that we all should be thinking about more often."

"In just two minutes, a home fire can become life-threatening," said U.S. Fire Administrator Ernest Mitchell Jr. "Remembering to take small steps to prepare, such as ensuring your smoke alarm is properly maintained and practicing your home fire escape plan, will reduce fire fatalities and ensure our communities are safer. We hope this new feature to FEMA’s app will help save lives by encouraging more families to be prepared."

The new reminder feature builds upon several innovative tools already built into the app.  In addition to push notifications, the app also provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and open recovery centers, and tips on how to survive natural and manmade disasters. The FEMA app also offers a feature that enables users to receive push notifications of weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations across the nation.

Some other key features of the app include:

  • Weather Alerts: Users can elect to receive alerts on severe weather happening in specific areas they select, even if the phone is not located in the area, making it easy to follow severe weather that may be threatening family and friends.
  • Safety Tips: Tips on how to stay safe before, during, and after over 20 types of hazards, including floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes.
  • Disaster Reporter: Users can upload and share disaster-related photos.
  • Maps of Disaster Resources: Users can locate and receive driving directions to open shelters and disaster recovery centers.
  • Apply for Assistance: The app provides easy access to apply for federal disaster assistance.
  • Information in Spanish: The app defaults to Spanish-language content for smartphones that have Spanish set as their default language.

The latest version of the FEMA app is available for free in the App Store for Apple devices and Google Play for Android devices.  Users who already have the app downloaded on their device should download the latest update for the reminder alerts feature to take effect. The reminders are available in English and Spanish and are located in the “Prepare” section of the FEMA App.

To learn more, visit: The FEMA App: Helping Your Family Weather the Storm.

A common put-down for sports wannabes is that they are "all flash and no substance." But for those contemplating moving off disk-based storage once and for all, the trick is to arrive at all-flash with plenty of substance. So how do you pull off this feat, and in the meantime, what do you do with all that expensive storage gear that was purchased not so long ago?

Here are some tips from the experts to help you along the way. They will help some of you arrive at that fabled haven where all-flash arrays (AFAs) have completely supplanted disk. For others, disk arrays and solid state storage will have to live in harmony for some time to come.

Take it Slow

It’s quite likely that some storage managers have been told by some over-enthusiastic CEO to go all-flash NOW! But that may not be the wisest choice. It takes time to come to terms with the intricacies of AFAs, so get to know them, gain confidence and then increase their share of the storage pie once you understand the beast.

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http://www.enterprisestorageforum.com/storage-hardware/navigating-from-all-disk-to-all-solid-state-storage.html

PEARL, Miss. – Mississippians whose homes were damaged in the recent storms and flooding may encounter people attempting to cheat them by posing as inspectors, government officials, volunteers or contractors. These people may try to obtain personal information or collect payment for disaster assistance or repairs.

Please keep in mind that Federal Emergency Management Agency employees DO NOT solicit or accept money from disaster survivors. Many legitimate disaster assistance employees may visit your property such as insurance agents, damage inspectors and Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, FEMA and U.S. Small Business Administration staff.

Here are some tips to remember to safeguard against fraud:

  • Ask to see ID badges. All FEMA representatives will have a laminated photo ID. A FEMA shirt or jacket is not proof of identity. If you are unsure or uncomfortable with anyone you encounter, please contact local law enforcement.
  • Safeguard personal information. Be cautious when giving personal information such as Social Security or bank account numbers to anyone. FEMA will only request an applicant’s bank account numbers during the initial registration process. However FEMA inspectors will require verification of identity.
  • Beware of people going door-to-door. People knocking on doors at damaged homes or phoning homeowners claiming to be building contractors could be con artists, especially if they ask for personal information or solicit money.
  • Federal workers do not solicit or accept money. FEMA and SBA staff never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections or help to fill out applications. FEMA inspectors verify damages, but do not involve themselves in any aspect of the repair nor recommend any contractor.
  • FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance teams may be in your community providing information and assisting people in registering with FEMA or updating their files. The teams coordinate their activities with local emergency managers and make local law enforcement agencies aware of their presence. The teams always consist of at least two people, and may include employees of MEMA as well as FEMA. They will always be wearing FEMA or MEMA shirts and laminated photo IDs. Disaster Survivor Assistance teams never ask for or accept payment for their services.

Always use licensed and bonded contractors and ask for credentials. Use Mississippi contractors if you can. You can verify a Mississippi contractor’s license online at msboc.us. Never pay for anything in advance of work being done. If you have a complaint about anyone soliciting your business, contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office toll-free number at 800-281-4418 or 601-359-3680.

If you have knowledge of fraud, waste, abuse or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721.

Disaster survivors in Bolivar, Clarke, Coahoma, Forrest, George, Greene, Jones, Marion, Panola, Pearl River, Perry, Quitman, Sunflower, Tunica, Washington and Wayne counties may be eligible for FEMA’s Individual Assistance program.

Survivors in those counties can register for FEMA Individual Assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling the FEMA helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362), which is video relay service accessible. People who are deaf, hard of hearing or who have difficulty speaking may call TTY 800-462-7585. Lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time until further notice.

For more information on Mississippi’s flood recovery, go to fema.gov/disaster/4268 or visit the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency site at msema.org.

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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.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

Despite real and growing threats, business leaders are keen to find new ways of operating and communicating with stakeholders

Companies that effectively manage risk, relationships and reporting can take advantage of a market that rewards agility, transparency and a long-term outlook. Indeed, there are many opportunities for businesses that base their value strategy on long-term resilience and marshal their resources to address the growing needs of stakeholders. Those are some of the key Assurance findings from the PwC Annual Global CEO Survey.

So while two thirds of CEOs see more threats today than three years ago, this doesn’t stop more than a third (35%) being very confident about short-term business growth.

Says PwC Vice Chairman, Global Assurance Richard Sexton: “In spite of CEOs’ readiness to identify the very real threats to their business, they are also keen to discuss new ways of operating and communicating.”

Today’s CEOs want to communicate that their business creates more than just financial value; and though in some cases they are worried that this might obscure their core purpose, they’re experimenting with new ways of engaging with - and reporting to – stakeholders.

“It’s an exciting time for our Assurance business, as we work with clients to devise truly innovative frameworks and methodologies for providing insight into, and confidence in, new and traditional information,” adds Richard Sexton. “And it’s an exciting time for society too, as people gain an understanding of the operations and impacts of business that they have long deserved.”

The PwC CEO Survey highlights tensions in four areas:

  • Regulation: 79% of CEOs said over-regulation posed a threat to their organisation’s growth prospects. CEOs also see the government and regulators - after customers and clients - as having the biggest impact on their organisation’s strategy (69% high or very high impact).

    Good organisations recognise that their approach to regulation defines their resilience, contributes to good practice in the market overall, helps control the competition, keeps compliance costs down and contributes to good governance and their company’s performance.

  • Relevance: 83% of CEOs see the world moving towards multiple value systems - an enormous challenge to companies operating in different jurisdictions. CEOs say that in spite of the benefits of the web and continuing globalisation, other factors are pulling their companies in opposite directions: nationalism, multiple economic models, opposing value systems, varied laws and trading blocs.

    The survey results highlight CEOs’ growing fears about making critical decisions amidst continuing geopolitical uncertainty (74% saw this as a threat). And it indicated their reluctance to be positive about such factors as economic or company growth while their businesses are subject to social trends and forces that are not easily defined or controlled.

    But they also know that the vision of responding to wider demands than creating value for their shareholders is muddied by insufficient information about other stakeholders’ expectations (24%), a misalignment between stakeholders’ interests and their current business strategy (20%) and a conflict between those interests and financial performance expectations (33%), a lack of the right capabilities (31%) and perhaps most damaging, an inability to effectively execute strategy (23%).

    CEOs are split about how to respond consistently to demands beyond the bottom line. To one question, 67% respond that their ‘purpose’ is centred on creating value for stakeholders beyond the customer. But to another, 53% respond that the purpose of their organisation is to create value (primarily) for the customer, with ‘wider society’ only getting 31% of the vote.

    And 52% of CEOs said that creating value for ‘wider stakeholders’ helps their company to be profitable, whereas 42% said that profitability helped them to create value for wider stakeholders. They remain divided over which comes first.

    Richard Sexton says: “Companies have stacks of information that can – if they have the skills to assimilate it – tell them about habits, beliefs, intentions and expectations of their customers and clients. Some CEOs are using this data effectively to manage their business better. And much of this data is available to regulators too, allowing them to build a much better picture of how individual businesses arrange and undertake their operations.”

    CEOs recognise the value of this information. While they see technology as the challenge, they also recognised its power to solve. Seventy-seven percent of CEOs said technological advances are a top three trend that will expand the expectations of their stakeholders, but 68% responded that data and analytics technologies generate the highest return on stakeholder engagement and 65% saw technology-enabled customer relationship management systems as generating excellent returns too. But few companies appear wholly able to deal with this data. Only 51% are making changes to harness data across their organisation and deliver the information stakeholders require.

  • Reporting: CEOs were asked what they wanted to measure better, and separately what they wanted to communicate better.  Their responses indicated that they believe measurement has value far beyond reporting. Fifty-five percent of CEOs stated that they were keen to better measure innovation – even above areas like environmental impact (39%) and non-statutory financial information (37%).

    While financial information remains the bedrock of performance reporting, the survey results show that CEOs recognise the importance of providing insights that tell their shareholders how they create value.

    “What CEOs should be concerned about is discovering the level of comfort or assurance stakeholders require over reported non-financial information and then acquiring the tools to enable it. And it’s not just stakeholders that need comfort over the transparency and quality of reported information, but the business itself too,” adds Richard Sexton.

  • Risk: CEOs indicate time and again that they believe risk has generally increased and diversified. Many are extremely concerned about supply chain disruption, bribery and corruption, exchange rate volatility, new market entrants and the speed of technological change. The tension between risk and growth is causing some business leaders to be worried about opportunities and their business’s longevity.

    Businesses that focus on the long-term are less likely to fall foul of regulators. They define their resilience by recognising that they want to operate in their market for a long time and by listening to their investors when they highlight ethical considerations as important to their analysis. And by considering more than just financial profit, these CEOs address their relevance. Whether or not they decide to serve a wider range of stakeholders, they have examined the purpose of their business, and have got their story straight.

​Richard Sexton concludes: “The CEOs in this year’s survey have told us they are more concerned than ever. But they also describe a future that, despite their concerns, is far from bleak. Certainly there are challenges, but resilient, innovative businesses are finding ways to address them, particularly by looking to the long-term.

Notes:

More details: For more details on the Assurance view of the 19th Annual Global CEO Survey, go to https://www.pwc.com/ceosurvey-assurance​.

About the survey: PwC’s 19th Annual Global CEO Survey was conducted during the last quarter of 2015, with 1409 CEO respondents in 83 countries.  Regionally, 476 interviews were conducted in Asia Pacific, 314 in Western Europe, 170 in Central and Eastern Europe, 169 in Latin America, 146 in North America, 87 in Africa and 47 in the Middle East. Download the full survey or examine the results in detail at www.pwc.com/ceosurvey.

About PwC

At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We’re a network of firms in 157 countries with more than 208,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at www.pwc.com.

PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details.

© 2016 PwC. All rights reserved

Thursday, 07 April 2016 00:00

Nixle in Action: Campus Safety

Communicating effectively with large populations can be a difficult task. Whether it be a large city, a small town, or a college campus, during emergencies it is essential to have a reliable and quick system of communication in place.

UC Berkeley recently launched Nixle to aid in campus safety and keep the community informed. In an interview with UCPD Chief Margo Bennett[1], she explained how Nixle is being used and ways that it benefits not only students, but also the surrounding community.

Locally and nationally, crime is on the rise. However on the UC Berkeley campus, there has been a 23% decrease in crime. Chief Bennett explains that decrease by placing a high emphasis on crime prevention and safety outreach. Part of their strategy includes using Nixle for open communication with the campus community and ensure they are informed in case of an emergency.

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http://www.everbridge.com/nixle-action-campus-safety/

(TNS) - The  Carroll County Board of Commissioners expressed concern about large future increases predicted in the amount the county must pay to maintain its emergency radio system.

The Department of Public Safety's Scott Campbell appeared before the board on Tuesday as part of the county's agency budget hearings. Representatives from Carroll Community College, the State's Attorney's Office and the Sheriff's Office also met with the commissioners.

Beginning this summer, the county will have to pay between $77,235 and $92,991 for maintenance of its newly installed digital radio system. That fee is an increase over the $35,164 per month the county will pay in maintenance through the remainder of the spring, a figure that Campbell said was an anomaly resulting from factors like a warranty on the system.

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http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Commissioners-decry-increased-cost-of-radio-system-maintenance.html

As Microsoft works its way toward implementing the security plan that CEO Satya Nadella outlined in a talk last Fall in DC, part of that has been creating tools and part buying them. Today, it announced that Adallom, a company it bought last year was becoming generally available and renamed Microsoft Cloud App Security.

While the new name lacks the pizazz of the original, it does convey to customers and sales alike what the product actually does a bit more clearly, and that’s help companies detect cloud apps in use in a company — whether from Microsoft or a third party. That last part speaks to the new philosophy in play at Microsoft that when it makes sense, its products won’t be “all Microsoft, all the time” as they have in the past, but will work cross-product and cross-platform, even when those products may compete directly or indirectly with Microsoft.

With a product like this, it wouldn’t have made sense to work any other way.

...

http://techcrunch.com/2016/04/06/microsoft-marches-forward-with-its-security-plan-releasing-cloud-app-security/