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Volume 28, Issue 2

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Jon Seals

Friday, 19 September 2014 18:15

Data Poor in a Data-Driven World

Are concerns about personal data a sign of privilege?

Daniel Castro argues that they are, especially as the Internet of Things (IoT) comes online and data constantly streams from high-tech, high-cost gadgets.

Poor people don’t own Fitbits. Rather inconveniently for data, they also are born, grow up and live in low-tech environments. In our data-driven society, the end effect is that these people disappear from data, writes Castro in his paper, “The Rise of Data Poverty in America.” Castro is the director for the Center of Data Innovation, a data innovation think-tank that published the paper. He’s also a senior analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation — qualifications that show in his thought-provoking, well-researched paper.



More than 500 Red Cross volunteers are helping people affected by Hurricane Odile in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. The volunteers—120 of which are paramedics—are providing basic medical check-ups and delivering food to people housed in shelters. The Red Cross has sent 2,000 food parcels to the city of Los Cabos. In addition, volunteers are carrying out damage assessments in Baja California Sur in order to determine the most urgent needs.

The storm has left roughly 82% of the population in Los Cabos and La Paz without electrical power, damaged roadways, and caused ports to close. People affected by the storm have evacuated to 164 shelters in Baja California Sur.

Mexican Red Cross volunteers participating in the response are specialists in collapsed structures, damage evaluations, pre-hospital care, and logistics support in shelters & collection centres. The Mexican Red Cross is working closely with federal authorities, Civil Protection, the Governors Secretariat, the Mexican Marines and Army, to deliver the aid to the people affected as quickly as possible.

Another storm—Hurricane Polo—is threatening the Mexican state of Guerrero, where at least 120 Mexican Red Cross volunteers are prepositioned to act if needed.


Friday, 19 September 2014 18:13

Where’s the App for an Earthquake Warning?

(MCT) — Among the many things the Bay Area learned from the recent shaker near Napa is that the University of California, Berkeley’s earthquake warning system does indeed work for the handful of people who receive its messages, but most folks find out about a tremor only after it knocks them out of bed.

Silicon Valley has made apps that tell people when their Uber ride is approaching, their air conditioning has broken or a thunderstorm is brewing. Yet despite being home to the most devastating earthquakes in the country, the region does not have a high-tech earthquake alert system for the public.

But since last month’s temblor, more tech companies are trying to solve that problem. A handful of startups are developing apps that would quickly broadcast warnings of upcoming quakes to users on their smartphones, tablets or other gadgets. Already, the much-joked-about messaging app Yo has rolled out “Earthquake Yo” to hundreds of users.



What is the scarcest IT resource today? Processor power, main memory and disk space all seem to grow unabated. But network bandwidth on the other hand is still comparatively expensive. Consequently, enterprises tend to have less of it, which is turn leaves them more exposed to possible outages. Luckily, other technology means that bandwidth can be made to do more, even if it’s not reasonable to have more of it. Routing voice and data over the same links is a prime example. This simplifies recovery and can also minimize outages. What’s missing in the equation is a simple explanation of terms involved. Here are a few to help you mix and match for the configuration that suits you.



After reading several blogs and articles this week, I’ve learned that many small to midsize businesses (SMBs) tend to learn as they go—especially when it comes to technology. And often, those lessons can be costly.

In a LinkedIn Blog written by Boost IT CEO Russell Shulin, I found a list of six major technology issues often overlooked by SMBs that can bust budgets and deeply affect business. Shulin explains that each is one lesson that he’s experienced, or seen experienced by others. Tips SMBs should consider include:



In the morning of Nov. 16, 2013, rural Ouray County, Colo., emergency responders were called to help miners in a nearby mine. Two were unconscious and 20 were suffering from oxygen deficiency. The two miners tragically died of carbon-monoxide poisoning, but a swift response got the other 20 to safety in a multiagency and regional effort.

The timing was uncanny. The coordinated response that ensued was practiced in a Mass Casualty Incident Command System (MCICS) training just the day prior to the incident, when those same responders were educated using an active shooter model. The training was applied to the mine incident in a structure that can be generalized to almost any mass casualty incident.

At the Revenue-Virginius mine, the county established a transportation unit leader and group for the first time to accurately track who was coming and going during the emergency.

In total, 30 responders navigated a snowy, narrow terrain to reach miners exposed to high levels of toxic carbon monoxide gases. The transportation leader and group helped especially to track and triage the miners and ensure quick treatment at three regional hospitals.



WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, Canada – After decades of working undercover for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Customs Service, crime and risk expert Chris Mathers knows where companies are vulnerable and what it takes to protect them.

“In a world where popular culture tells us that the ends justify the means, crime is all about perception,” he said in a keynote address at the 2014 RIMS Canada Conference. “Young people are bombarded with it all the time, but we are in business, too. So the question is, how vulnerable is your business?”

Mathers, who joined the forensic division of KPMG and was later named president of corporate intelligence, shared his insight into how companies can best guard against “the business of crime, and crime in business.”



(MCT) — The San Antonio River Authority has announced the first nationwide implementation of software to help emergency responders react to dangerous floods.

SARA and the San Antonio Fire Department will hold a news conference Wednesday to discuss the FloodWorks system. It was developed in the United Kingdom and is operational via a “user-friendly, interactive website” at the San Antonio Emergency Operations Center at Brooks City-Base, officials said.

“We're doing the technology development; their role is the response,” Russell Persyn, SARA's watershed engineering manager, said of the joint project with the fire department.

The system, installed late last year and run through tests in the spring, uses historical flood data and weather forecasts to plan a day before a potential flood, with real-time radar updates from the National Weather Service helping responders track developments during a storm.



Reports are published almost daily about the gender pay gap in the UK. In 2013, women earned 19.7 percent less than men doing the same job. While in professional occupations, the pay gap is smaller (around 9 percent), at a senior level, the gender pay gap has not really decreased since 2005. Senior women earn 20.2 percent less than men in a similar role.

When examining the salaries for women in the resilience and governance sectors, recruitment agency BeecherMadden expected to see a similar trend.

However, surprisingly, salaries for women in resilience and governance roles buck the trend of women being paid less. Comparing recent appointments in the past year, women have been paid up to 30 percent more. This is for roles where men with comparable experience, have been appointed at a similar time, entering similar organizations.

BeecherMadden also found several examples of women with less experience in their role than men, who were earning around 10 percent more, for a similar role. The difference is most notable for those going into their second jobs; candidates who have 3 - 5 years’ experience are the most in demand and show the biggest pay difference. At senior levels, the experience gap closes when looking at comparable commercial experience.



To address critical gaps in knowledge about data center fire prevention, the US Fire Protection Research Foundation, an affiliate of the National Fire Protection Association(NFPA), has announced the release of a new report, ‘Validation of Modeling Tools for Detection Design in High Air Flow Environments,’ as the result of a project in partnership with Hughes Associates and FM Global.

The report validates a model that provides reliable analysis of smoke detection in data centers and guidance to the technical committees for NFPA 75, Fire Protection of Informational Technology Equipment, and NFPA 76, Fire Protection of Telecommunications Facilities.

Fire prevention and detection is critical to safeguarding data centers which hold critical business and organizational information around the world. Globally, spending on these facilities will be an estimated 149 billion dollars this year, according to Gartner Group.

In the past few years, the equipment in data centers has changed significantly, which has placed increased demands on HVAC systems. As a result, airflow containment solutions are being introduced to increase energy efficiency. From a fire safety design perspective, the use of airflow containment creates a high airflow environment that dilutes smoke, which poses challenges for adequate smoke detection, and affects the dispersion of fire suppression agents.

“While data centers have become increasingly important in housing digital information, sufficient smoke detection is a challenge with data center cooling systems,” says Amanda Kimball, a research project manager for the Foundation. “This research included a series of simulations with various smoke detector spacing, types of fires, and air flows which gave us important guidance on smoke detection placement and installation.”

More details.