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Volume 28, Issue 3

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Jon Seals

Monday, 10 November 2014 15:52

Do You Want Data with That?

Data services as an up-selling tactic and add-on product will become a mainstream trend next year, according to Forrester Research.

It’s just one aspect of what the research firm calls the emerging “data economy.”

We’re already seeing the beginning of a data economy, Forrester contends in a recent Information Management column. The term “data economy” is self-describing: It’s a system that “provides for the exchange of digital information to create new insights and value,” the firm explains.



In June 2012, the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest derecho, a severe and fast-moving thunderstorm, moved through Maryland and left more than 1 million households without power in hot, humid conditions for up to a week in some places.

Although some changes were quickly made in response, Hurricane Sandy came quick on the derecho’s heels and knocked out power again. These two events triggered Maryland to focus on its energy resilience, prompting new programs, including backup generator initiatives and requirements, and a move toward microgrids to make the state more resilient.

One of the state’s new energy resilience programs, which ended this summer, was a grant to gas stations to purchase backup generators so that fuels are available when power is down. The Fuel Up Maryland program offered grants up to $25,000 per gas station to offset 70 percent of the purchasing and pre-wire costs of backup power generation.



(MCT) NEW YORK — The lines between online thefts and all-out cyberwarfare continue to blur as hackers become more effective at attacks that threaten to cause serious economic damage, computer security and legal experts said here Thursday.

“It's not a clear, bright red line,” Mitchell Silber, executive managing director of K2 Intelligence, a cybersecurity company based here, said at a daylong cyberwarfare conference. “It really is more murky, the difference between where a cybercriminal hack ends and where some type of state or state-sponsored event begins.”

The Department of Homeland Security last week issued a bulletin to cybersecurity insiders reporting that a destructive malware program known as “BlackEnergy” has been placed in key U.S. infrastructure systems that control everything from telecommunications and power transmission grids to water, oil and natural gas distribution systems and some nuclear plants.



(MCT) — With about 22 million people vulnerable to dangerous hurricane storm surges, forecasters have long struggled over how to issue warnings, especially in low-lying Florida, where waters can rise far inland.

Now they have an interactive map that tracks flooding not only by location, but storm strength.

Published Thursday, the map for the first time links the coast from Texas to Maine, said Brian Zachry, a National Hurricane Center storm surge specialist. Forecasters used thousands of hypothetical hurricanes and factored in local coastal topography along with levees, canals and other structures to determine flooding.

In Florida, they found that about 40 percent of the population could face flooding in a powerful storm.



Monday, 10 November 2014 15:20

An Experience of the BCI World Event

I’ve had a really interesting few days at the Business Continuity Institute’s Annual World Event and I wanted to share the experience with those who perhaps haven’t had the opportunity in their careers as of yet to attend. This is my very first visit after missing out the previous year due to an unforeseen major incident at work – nature of the job.

As ever, the views that I’ve chosen to share on here are purely based on my own experience and you may well receive differing accounts for my colleagues and peers (I know I have heard several different views in recent years). I hope to shed some light on this mass gathering event of like-minded professionals and ultimately encourage my peers to get involved.

It’s such an interesting dynamic. The lift doors open and I could already see an eager student firing out his CV to the various stands, and exhibitors presenting to business leads and a sea of consultants keeping one friendly eye on their competitors/associates. However, it’s all very positive, relaxed and friendly.

To set the scene, once a year professionals from around the world, who have an interest in business continuity (and beyond), gather at the BCI Annual Global Event. It runs over a couple of days to which there are various events and activities that you can choose to participate in.



Monday, 10 November 2014 15:18

Vocal Rebrands as Everbridge

LONDON – Following the acquisition of Vocal by Everbridge in March of this year, Vocal officially rebranded as Everbridge at the BCM World Conference and Exhibition in London on Nov. 5, 2014.

The acquisition saw Everbridge, positioned as a leader in the 2014 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Emergency and Mass Notification, become the world’s largest independent provider of critical communications solutions, with 18 data centres and offices across North America, Asia and Europe, with over 250 staff serving a customer base of more than 3000 organisations supporting in excess of 50,000,000 contacts and stakeholders.

Trevor Wheatley-Perry, founder of Vocal and now Everbridge Sales Director says: ‘Vocal and Everbridge are a powerful combination; the acquisition has allowed us to merge our expertise to offer the broadest product range on offer to the industry. We’re looking forward to talking to people about the Everbridge solutions while offering the reassurance that our service and support will be very much delivered by local staff based in our UK office. We’ve had an incredible response from those iModus customers who have already migrated to the Everbridge system and our dedicated migration team is on hand to answer questions and showcase the outstanding benefits migrating to the Everbridge system can provide.’

With a dedicated upgrade service, iModus customers wishing to migrate will have complimentary access to a personal Everbridge migration specialist who will provide a review, project plan, implementation, testing and post-migration support. The iModus to Everbridge system migration will provide customers with access to industry-leading critical communications solutions with a host of additional functions included on a like-for-like basis.

For more information, please contact Laura Pont at Everbridge Laura.Pont@everbridge.com telephone 0800 035 0081.

CHICAGO – Cold temperatures, heavy snow, and treacherous ice storms are all risks of the impending winter season. 

“Severe winter weather can be dangerous and even life-threatening for people who don't take the proper precautions,” said FEMA Region V acting administrator Janet Odeshoo. “Preparedness begins with knowing your risks, making a communications plan with your family and having an emergency supply kit with essentials such as water, food, flashlights and medications.”

Once you’ve taken these steps, consider going beyond the basics of disaster preparedness with the following tips to stay safe this cold season:

Winterize your emergency supply kit:

  • Before winter approaches, add the following items to your supply kit:
    • Rock salt or other environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency for a complete list of recommended products.
    • Sand to improve traction.
    • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
    • Sufficient heating fuel and/or a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
    • Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.

Stay fire safe:

  • Keep flammable items at least three feet from heat sources like radiators, space heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves. 
  • Plug only one heat-producing appliance (such as a space heater) into an electrical outlet at a time.
  • Ensure you have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home. Check it on a monthly basis.

Keep warm, even when it’s cold outside:

  • If you have a furnace, have it inspected now to ensure it’s in good working condition.
  • If your home heating requires propane gas, stock up on your propane supply and ensure you have enough to last an entire winter. Many homeowners faced shortages due to the record freezing winter weather last year, and this season there’s the possibility of lower than normal temperatures again. Don’t be caught unprepared.
  • Avoid the dangers of carbon monoxide by installing battery-powered or battery back-up carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.

Prevent frozen pipes:

  • If your pipes are vulnerable to freezing, i.e., they run through an unheated or unprotected space, consider keeping your faucet at a slow drip when extremely cold temperatures are predicted.
  • If you’re planning a trip this winter, avoid setting your heat too low. If temperatures dip dangerously low while you’re away, that could cause pipes to freeze. Consider draining your home’s water system before leaving as another way to avoid frozen pipes.

You can always find valuable information to help you prepare for winter emergencies at www.ready.gov/winter-weather. Bookmark FEMA’s mobile site http://m.fema.gov, or download the FEMA app today to have vital information just one click away.

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 twitter.com/femaregion5, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at twitter.com/craigatfema. The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

Friday, 07 November 2014 16:16

The Hardest Risk to Avoid

What is the hardest risk to avoid?  The risk you didn’t anticipate.  The answer may seem obvious, after the fact, however most firms seldom analyze why.  What is not so obvious are the decisions leading up to the risk event.  It is human nature to assume that we understand risk and will avoid it just in time.  Yet, time and again we are surprised.

Somewhere along the way, a consultant categorized risks into awareness buckets of “Knowns,” “Known Unknowns” and “Unknown Unknowns.”  Unfortunately, categories of risk do not protect us from the effects of a risk occurrence.  Senior executives do not like surprises and, more importantly, they expect risk professionals to detect and prevent them before they occur!

Let’s examine whether these events are really “Unknown Unknowns” or, quite simply, the avoidance of decision making that could have minimized or contained the risk.  Cognitive research suggests that blind spots in decision making account for up to 90 percent of large operational risks across all organizations.  Very few firms take the time to re-examine failed decisions, fearing where the truth may lead.



On November 7, 1940, high winds buffeted the Tacoma Narrows Bridge leading to its collapse. The first failure came at about 11 a.m., when concrete dropped from the road surface. Just minutes later, a 600-foot section of the bridge broke free. Subsequent investigations and testing revealed that when the bridge experienced strong winds from a certain direction, the frequency oscillations built up to such an extent that collapse was inevitable. For posterity, the collapse of the Bridge was captured on film.

I thought about this spectacular engineering failure when I read, yet again, commentary about representatives from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) appearing at for-profit conferences to give presentations to attendees. Personally, I was shocked, simply shocked to find out that one has to pay to attend these events. Further, it appears that one or more of the companies running these events, ACI, Momentum, IQPC, HansonWade, among others, might actually be for-profit companies. It was intimated that one of the ways the conference providers enticed registrants to pay their fees was to provide a forum of lawyers practicing in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) space, to whom representatives from the DOJ and SEC could speak. Now I am really, really really shocked to find that people actually pay to obtain knowledge.

Armed with the new piece of information that there is a marketplace where people actually pay to obtain information, I have decided to practice what I preach and perform a self-assessment to determine if I am part of this commerce in ideas. Unfortunately I have come to the understanding that not only do I participate in that marketplace but also I actually use information provided by representatives of the US government in my very own marketing and commerce. So with a nod to Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand of the Marketplace; I now fully self-disclose that I digest to what US government regulators say about the FCPA, repackage it and then (try) and make money from it. (I know you are probably as shocked, shocked as I was to discover this.)



SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Federal disaster assistance now exceeds $2.4 million for those affected by the South Napa earthquake, just one week after they became eligible to apply. At the state’s request, the federal disaster declaration expanded on Oct. 27 to include Individual Assistance for homeowners and renters in Napa and Solano Counties.

Nearly 1,900 households have applied for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Disaster assistance includes grants to help pay for temporary housing, home repair and other serious disaster-related needs, such as medical expenses, not covered by insurance or other sources.

Low-interest disaster loans are also available from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private non-profit organizations. Disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.

To apply for assistance, register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or via smartphone or tablet at m.fema.gov. Applicants may also call FEMA at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585.  People who use 711-Relay or VRS may call 800-621-3362.

Multilingual phone operators are available on the FEMA Helpline/Registration. Choose Option 2 for Spanish and Option 3 for other languages.

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and FEMA have coordinated with the City of Vallejo and Solano County to open a Disaster Recovery Center and have partnered with the City and County of Napa to provide state and federal services in a Local Assistance Center. The centers provide face-to-face assistance for affected individuals to meet with specialists from Cal OES, FEMA and the SBA. To date, nearly 500 people have visited the centers.

Napa Earthquake Local Assistance Center
301 1st Street, Napa, CA 94559

Solano County Disaster Recovery Center
1155 Capitol Street, Vallejo, CA 94590

Standard hours for the centers are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends until further notice. On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, holiday hours will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

 During a visit to a center, visitors may:

  • Discuss their individual disaster-related needs
  • Submit any additional documentation needed, such as occupancy or ownership verification documents and letters from insurance companies
  • Find out the status of an application
  • Obtain information about different types of state and federal assistance
  • Get help from SBA specialists in completing low-interest disaster loan applications for homeowners, renters and business owners
  • Meet with FEMA hazard mitigation specialists to learn about reducing future disaster losses and rebuilding safer and stronger

People should register with FEMA before going to a Disaster Recovery Center, if possible. For visitors with a disability or functional need, the centers may have:

  • Captioned telephones, which transcribe spoken words into text
  • The booklet Help After a Disaster, in both Braille and large print Spanish and English
  • American Sign Language interpreters available upon request
  • Magnifiers and assistive listening devices
  • 711-Relay or Video Relay Services available

If other accommodations are needed during any part of the application process, please ask any FEMA or Cal OES employee for assistance.

Stay in Touch with FEMA

After a person registers, a FEMA inspector will contact that person by phone to schedule an appointment. An applicant should give clear, accurate directions to the damaged property. An inspector will try three times to schedule an inspection appointment. To avoid unnecessary delays, FEMA asks applicants to make sure FEMA has their current phone number.

During the inspection, owners and renters must show proof of occupancy, such as a valid driver’s license. Owners must show proof of ownership and sign various forms. The length of the inspection will vary, depending on the amount and location of the damage.

FEMA inspectors document damage. They do not determine eligibility for disaster assistance. They do not condemn homes. When meeting with an applicant who owns a home that has been previously red-tagged, FEMA guidance allows inspectors to complete their inspection from a safe distance.

The SBA and insurance companies also have inspectors in the field.

Be Alert for Disaster Fraud

FEMA inspectors carry official photo identification. Please contact the local police if someone posing as an inspector asks for money.

Official inspectors never ask for money or use a vehicle bearing a FEMA logo. Inspectors must carry visible FEMA ID, which includes a photo and name, the FEMA seal and the ID’s expiration date. FEMA ID has a "property of the U.S. Government" disclaimer, a return address and a barcode.

Apply to Qualify

To be eligible for federal disaster assistance, at least one member of a household must be a U.S. citizen, Qualified Alien or non-citizen national with a Social Security number. Disaster assistance may be available to a household if a parent or guardian applies on behalf of a minor child who is a U.S. citizen or a Qualified Alien. FEMA will only need to know the immigration status and Social Security number of the child.

Disaster assistance grants are not taxable income and will not affect eligibility for Social Security, Medicaid, medical waiver programs, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Social Security Disability Insurance.

For more information on the California disaster recovery, go to http://www.fema.gov/disaster/4193.

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). For TTY call 800-462-7585.

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 Cal OES coordinates overall state agency preparedness for, response to and recovery from major disasters. Cal OES also maintains the State Emergency Plan, which outlines the organizational structure for state management of the response to natural and manmade disasters.

The SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private non-profit organizations 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.

Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/femaregion6 and the FEMA Blog at http://blog.fema.gov.