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Spring Journal

Volume 29, Issue 2

Full Contents Now Available!

Jon Seals

On Tuesday, IBM announced that is rolling out its latest version of its z13 mainframe, which, according to the company, aims to attract mid-size enterprises with a hybrid cloud mainframe designed to encrypt data without slowing down the computer's performance.

The IBM z13s, expected to be available beginning next month, is designed to encrypt and decrypt data at double the speed of previous generations because the security is embedded into the hardware.

Tom Rosamilia, senior vice president of IBM Systems, said in a statement:

With the new IBM z13s, clients no longer have to choose between security and performance. This speed of secure transactions, coupled with new analytics technology helping to detect malicious activity and integrated IBM Security offerings, will help mid-sized clients grow their organization with peace of mind.



The idea of fully outsourcing data infrastructure to the cloud is still novel enough to give many CIOs the shivers. But now that end-to-end data environments can be configured entirely in software, the notion is not as radical as it once was.

At the very least, the precise location of physical infrastructure is becoming less of an architectural criterion given that functions like security, governance and resource configuration are proving to be less costly and more effective when they are deployed on the application or data planes rather than a box somewhere. So this has some people wondering if we are on the cusp of a quiet revolution toward full utility-style computing, not because it is the latest must-have technology but because it is the most efficient, effective way to run a data environment.

For those who say their data is too broad or too complex to entrust to third-party infrastructure, we have only to look at Netflix, which recently shuttered its last video streaming data center to port its entire service to AWS. The company still maintains some back-office processes in-house, but the voluminous video feeds – the heart of its user-facing operation – are now 100 percent in the cloud. The company has made no secret that, given the scale and complexity of its operations, it had no choice but to turn to Amazon for support, which includes not just massive resources but a growing cadre of specialty services and feature sets.



NORTH LITTLE ROCK – Disaster recovery experts today urged applicants for federal assistance to complete a disaster loan application from the U.S. Small Business Administration.  Taking a loan is not required; completing the application can open the door to all federal assistance, including possible additional grants from FEMA.

Most Arkansans who register for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency will receive an automated call with information on how to complete the loan application process. Low-interest loans from the SBA are the major source of funding for disaster recovery.

SBA offers low-interest loans to homeowners, renters,  businesses of all sizes (including landlords) and private nonprofit organizations that have sustained disaster damage.  There is no cost to apply and no obligation to accept a disaster loan.

Assistance from FEMA is limited to help jump-start the recovery; it may not cover all damage or property loss. Completing the SBA Loan application may make FEMA assistance available to replace essential household items, replace or repair a damaged vehicle, or cover storage expenses.

Interest rates can be as low as 4 percent for businesses, 2.625 percent for private nonprofit organizations and 1.813 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years.

Eligible homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 for home repair or replacement of primary residences, and eligible homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace disaster-damaged or destroyed personal property, including a vehicle. 

Businesses of all sizes may qualify for up to $2 million in low-interest loans to help cover physical damages.

Small businesses and most private nonprofits suffering economic impact due to the severe weather and flooding can apply for up to $2 million for any combination of property damage or economic injury under SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.

For additional information about SBA disaster loans, the application process, or for help completing the SBA application:

People with storm losses who still need to register with FEMA can register anytime online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov , or with a smartphone or device at m.fema.gov. Survivors can also register by phone from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. by calling FEMA at 800-621-3362. People who use TTY can call 800-462-7585. Multilingual operators are available.

Federal disaster assistance is available to eligible residents of Benton, Carroll, Crawford, Faulkner, Jackson, Jefferson, Lee, Little River, Perry, Sebastian and Sevier counties that suffered damage from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding Dec. 26, 2015 - January 22, 2016.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

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.

The SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For more information, applicants may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visiting SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/disaster. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call 800-877-8339.

State/Tribal Government or Region: 
Wednesday, 17 February 2016 00:00

Fighting the War against Hackers

Cyber-attacks are inevitable.  Thankfully we have IT security teams that keep all of the technology within an organization secure from hackers, who are attempting to breach internal systems and gain control of private information.  It is important not to be narrow minded when thinking of information security.  System threats come in all shapes and sizes.  Some of the most common threats that companies face today are software attacks, property or identity theft, and even information extortion.

In recent years, there have been many companies that were victims of cyber-attacks.  You may not always be able to prevent them, but you are responsible for all of the technology and information within your company.  So one might ask, how can I protect my company, my employees and my customers from hackers?

Here are a few tips that will help safeguard your organization:



(TNS) - Among the items scattered on the conference room table were a hand-cranked flashlight, a tri-fold shovel and food packets with a five-year shelf life.

They were next to the “blood stopper,” labeled as dressing for wounds and trauma, and a “survival tin,” which included a sewing kit, fishing hooks and condoms. That last item also is included to protect supplies from the elements.

“They help keep things dry,” said John Caine, manager of new business development for Quake Kare, a company that touts itself as the country’s “leading source of emergency survival kits.”



The recent acts of terrorism in Paris stunned the world, when 150 were killed and more than 300 were wounded. But the collateral damage went far beyond buildings being ripped apart and one of the most popular cities in the world being virtually shut down.

Business Travel Coalition, a U.S.-based lobby group, recently released a survey of 84 corporate, university and government travel and risk managers from 17 countries on their attitudes of trips to France following the bombings. Twenty-one percent of the respondents said they were very or somewhat likely to cancel travel to France for “some period of time,” and 20% were somewhat likely to cancel travel to and within Europe. A large majority said they’d probably allow employees to decide whether they were prepared to head to France. One in five corporate travel managers is likely to cancel trips to Paris “for some period of time.” These are not surprising statistics.

Terrorism has been defined as “The use of violence to instill a state of fear,” and that effect is far-reaching; a bomb explodes in Paris and it’s likely that 5,600 miles away in California some corporate risk manager for a Fortune 500 company is seriously considering cancelling a business trip to Europe—a visceral reaction that could cost his company untold sums of money. Mission accomplished.



Wednesday, 17 February 2016 00:00

Emergency Alerts Get More Direct

Strong forces are at work to make emergency alerts more mobile and precisely targeted. Long gone are days when a siren blasting a loud horn near and far was sufficient to spur people to action. Now, people want information that’s precise, pertains specifically to them and is available wherever they are regardless of what they’re doing. Plus, studies show that people generally won’t take protective action unless they get an alert from at least two sources. 

Add to the mix the fact that today’s emergencies are local and difficult. Our threats don’t include a fear that bombs will be dropped on our cities from a warring nation. It’s more likely that a terrorist will plant a bomb where we live, work, learn, worship and play. Or a flood will hit an unexpected neighborhood. Or a tornado will abruptly change its path. Or someone will kidnap a child and head for the state’s border. We could go on.

It’s easy to see why emergency alerting has evolved and continues to do so. Targeting specific areas became more practical in the late 1990s when telephone alerting was introduced. Practitioners could draw a diagram on a digital map and direct alerts to specific home and business phone numbers. They can do much more now, according to Russ Johnson, director of Public Safety and Homeland/National Security for Esri, one of the first providers of digital mapping for alerting.He said alerts can be much “smarter” through use of real-time mapping where “live” information from many sources can be analyzed. Then, a geo-fence can be established around the area. If something or someone crosses into the fenced area, an alert can be automatically issued.



Wednesday, 17 February 2016 00:00

Making Commuter and Freight Trains Safer

In September 2008 a Metrolink commuter train collided head-on with a Union Pacific freight train in Chatsworth, Calif., killing 25 people and injuring more than 100. On Dec. 1, 2013, a Metro-North commuter train derailed in the Bronx, killing four and injuring dozens of others. The train’s engineer had fallen asleep and failed to slow the train from over 82 mph to the maximum authorized 30 mph as it entered a curve.

These and many other incidents could have been avoided, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, if railroads had implemented positive train control (PTC). They were supposed to do just that by the end of 2015. They missed the deadline, but got a reprieve, with Congress pushing back the deadline for PTC implementation to 2018.

Congress first mandated PTC in 2008 for rail lines used to transport passengers or toxic-by-inhalation materials. The unfunded mandate gave railroads seven years to comply. Questions arise: Why push back implementation to 2018? Why the delay? Will PTC actually help, whenever we get there? And what will it mean to emergency managers?



FEMA's Emergency Management Institute (EMI) is preparing for the annual  http://training.fema.gov/nte/ National Training, Education, and Exercise (NTE&E) Symposium.  The symposium, which takes place May 24 – 26, provides federal, state, tribal, and territorial training and exercise officials the opportunity to discuss current and future training and exercise programs and to share case studies, lessons-learned, and smart practices.

The symposium also provides a venue to communicate program changes and to introduce new FEMA policy and doctrine. Each year, the symposium presenters discuss current and future training and exercise programs and initiatives that impact the federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, and non-government sectors.  The symposium offers an instructional, participatory environment for emergency management training and exercise officials to engage their peers from across the country, as well as interact with FEMA leadership. 

This year, the symposium theme is "Requirements-Based Investments to Build National Capabilities." The focus is to help ensure attendees use their resources efficiently and effectively.
Participants will learn to identify:

- At least one element to implement, modify, or validate in their training and exercise program;

- Resources, processes, and methods for determining capability gaps in a participant’s jurisdiction that can be filled through training or education and validated by exercises;

- Methods to determine if training is appropriate to close a capability gap; and,

- Tools for planning, executing, and evaluating their training and exercise programs to impact and close identified gaps.

On May 23, EMI also will offer six courses during the http://training.fema.gov/nte/_assets/training%20opportunity%202016-208%20-%20e234%202016%20nte%20pre-symposium%20wkshp-updated.pdf Pre-Symposium Workshop facilitated by the members of the https://www.ndpc.us/ National Domestic Preparedness Consortium.

The symposium and pre-symposium courses are occurring at the National Emergency Training Center, 16825 South Seton Avenue Emmitsburg, Maryland 21727-8998.  Applications must be received by April 12, 2016.  For more information, contact the EMI National Training Liaison, Dan Lubman, at daniel.lubman@fema.dhs.gov.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016 00:00

FEMA: Emergency Alert System Test

FEMA in coordination with state, local, tribal and territorial emergency managers and state broadcasters’ associations, will conduct a test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) in twenty-two states, two territories, and the District of Columbia on Wednesday, February 24, at 2:20 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and at 1:20 p.m. Central Time.

Broadcasters are voluntarily participating in the test from Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Virginia. The EAS test is scheduled to last approximately one minute and will verify the delivery and broadcast of a national test message and assess the readiness for distribution of a national-level test message. 

The message will be nearly identical to the regular monthly test message of EAS, normally heard and seen by the public: “This is a national test of the Emergency Alert System. This is only a test.”
The EAS test might also be seen and heard in states and tribes bordering the states participating in the test.

For more information, visit the http://www.fema.gov/integrated-public-alert-warning-system" Integrated Public Alert and Warning System and Wireless Emergency Alerts.