Project Loon and its LTE balloons bring internet service to Puerto Rico

October 24, 2017

Google’s parent Alphabet has deployed Project Loon and its LTE balloons to Puerto Rico bringing Internet service to the island.

In a 20-Oct-2017 blog penned by Project Loon head Alastair Westgarth, the company says it’s working with the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Aviation Authority, FEMA, and other cellular spectrum and aviation authorities to bring connectivity to parts of the island still suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Loon’s official LTE partner for the initiative is AT&T, which is helping Loon use its fleet of stratospheric helium balloons to bring functions like text messaging and minor web browsing access to Puerto Rico residents who have LTE-equipped smartphones.

Mr. Westgarth writes … “Since our first sizable tests in New Zealand in 2013, Loon balloons have flown more than 26 million kms around the world. Thanks to improvements in balloon design and durability, many balloons stay airborne for more than 100 days, with our record breaking balloon staying aloft for 190 days. This is the second time that Project Loon has been used to connect people after a disaster. In early 2017, Project Loon delivered basic internet connectivity to tens of thousands of people in flood-affected zones in Peru in partnership with the Peruvian government and Telefonica.”

Below is a short Project Loon video…

 

Learn more about Project Loon at https://x.company/loon/

 

Sources: Project Loon blog, The Verge and TechTimes

Photo and video: Project Loon

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Beware of Identity Thieves and Scam Artists after a Disaster

October 14, 2017

As government agencies and charitable groups continue to provide disaster assistance, con artists, identity thieves and other criminals may attempt to prey on vulnerable survivors.

The most common post-disaster fraud practices include phony housing inspectors, fraudulent building contractors, bogus pleas for disaster donations, fake offers of state or federal aid and charging for free services.

Scam attempts can be made over the phone, by mail, by email, through the internet, or in person. Con artists are creative and resourceful. It is important to remain alert, ask questions and require identification when someone claims to represent a government agency. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it should be questioned.

Here are some tips from FEMA to safeguard against fraud:

  • Ask to see ID badges. All Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives always carry an identification badge with a photograph. A FEMA shirt or jacket is not proof of identity. If you are unsure or uncomfortable with anyone you encounter, contact local law enforcement.
  • Keep your FEMA registration number safe. It is your key to your application information. Do not share it with others.
  • Safeguard personal information. No state or federal government disaster assistance agency will call you to ask for your financial account information. Unless you place a call to an agency yourself, you should not provide personal information over the phone. It can lead to identity theft. FEMA will only request an applicant’s bank account numbers during the initial registration process. FEMA inspectors will require verification of identity but will already have your registration number.
  • 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.
  • Know that federal workers do not solicit or accept money. FEMA and Small Business Administration staff never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections, or to help fill out applications. FEMA inspectors verify damages, but do not involve themselves in any aspect of the repair nor recommend any contractor.

Those who suspect fraud may call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 (toll free). Complaints may also be made to local law enforcement agencies.

The quickest way to apply for federal assistance is online at www.disasterassistance.gov. Survivors may also apply by phone at 800-621-3362 (Voice, 711 or VS) or 800-462-7585 (TTY). Due to high demand, lines may be busy. Please be patient, and try calling in the morning or evening when call volume may be lower. The FEMA helpline numbers 800-621-3362 (Voice, 711 or VS) or 800-462-7585 (TTY) are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (ET), seven days a week until further notice.

If you believe you might be the victim of a home repair scam or price gouging, call your state’s Attorney General office.

Source: FEMA.gov

Photo by J.T. Blatty / FEMA


SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline (counseling and support before, during, and after disasters)

September 9, 2017

SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline puts people in need of counseling on the path to recovery. Their staff members provide counseling and support before, during, and after disasters and refer people to local disaster-related resources for follow-up care and support.

Since its launch in February 2012, the Disaster Distress Helpline has provided counseling and support in response to disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the Ebola outbreak. SAMHSA also has an interpretation service that connects callers with counselors in more than 150 languages.

The Disaster Distress Helpline is staffed by trained counselors from a network of crisis call centers located across the United States. These counselors provide:

  • Crisis counseling for people in emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster
  • Information on how to recognize distress and its effects on individuals and families
  • Tips for healthy coping
  • Referrals to local crisis call centers for additional follow-up care and support

When you call or text, crisis counselors will listen to what’s on your mind with patience and without judgment. There is no need to give any identifying information when you contact the Disaster Distress Helpline. The counselor may ask you for some basic information at the end of the call, but these questions are optional and are intended to help SAMHSA keep track of the types of calls it receives.

SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.

Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster. If you or someone you know is struggling, please contact the Disaster Distress Helpline.

  • In the U.S. call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
  • For all hard of hearing and deaf people use 1-800-846-8517.
  • Spanish speakers call 1-800-985-5990 and press “2” or text Hablanos to 66746.

Learn more at disasterdistress.samhsa.gov ~ and please share this with others.

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How to help organizations providing relief and recovery from #Harvey

September 2, 2017

Hurricane Harvey will have a lasting impact on the Gulf coasts of Texas and Louisiana. And the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) members will be there providing relief and recovery for years to come, and they will need your assistance.

The single best way individuals and businesses can help disaster survivors is to donate money to a recognized voluntary organization.

Cash doesn’t need to be sorted, stored or distributed, and it allows the voluntary agency to use the donation towards the needs that most urgently need addressing. The funds can also help stimulate the local economy.

For over 44 years, National VOAD’s 100 member organizations have been helping communities worldwide.

Visit the National VOAD Hurricane Harvey Response page to learn how to help those affected by the storm and subsequent flooding.

Also find a complete list of National VOAD Members’ donation pages here.

And if you would like to volunteer for a National VOAD member organization, visit their Volunteer page.

As we say in our Dedication in our book… thank you to all volunteers around the world who give their heart, soul, energy, and time unselfishly for the betterment of our society. j & B 

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Resources for Sept 2017 National Preparedness Month + America’s PrepareAthon

August 5, 2017

September is National Preparedness Month (NPM) when Americans are encouraged to take action to prepare, now and throughout the year, for the types of emergencies that could affect us where we live, work, and visit.

The Ready Campaign recently released the 2017 NPM theme “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” and toolkit, which includes graphics, hashtags, and social media content to help spread the word to others.

In addition to the overall theme, FEMA and the Ready campaign will be promoting different preparedness actions each week:

  • Week 1:  September 1-9 – Make a Plan for Yourself, Family and Friends.
  • Week 2:  September 10-16 – Plan to Help Your Neighbor and Community.
  • Week 3:  September 17-23 – Practice and Build Out Your Plans.
  • Week 4:  September 24-30 – Get Involved! Be a Part of Something Larger.

Learn more about National Preparedness Month at www.ready.gov/september.

disaster booksAlso consider getting our disaster preparedness and first aid manuals for your family, co-workers, customers, church members, neighbors, events and training sessions for only $4.50 U.S. each delivered (70% off $14.99 list) on 10 copies & up and we can customize them for free!

The 266-page paperback provides quick-reference instructional bullets in 2-color format with tips on what people should think about and do before, during and after specific types of emergencies and disasters (e.g. hurricanes, hazardous material spills, nuclear incidents, active shooter scenarios, etc.), as well as how to administer basic first aid.

Fedhealth can ship red books within 24 hours of your order … plus we (Bill & Janet Liebsch) will donate a portion of bulk book orders to the U.S. First Responders Association in support of our nation’s first responders and veterans.

Learn how to order “IT’S A DISASTER!” books (or our 280-page ebook in PDF) or call Fedhealth at 520-907-2153. Stay safe out there, j & B

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Google SOS Alerts can help during an emergency or crisis

July 26, 2017

Google has announced a new set of features in Google Search and Maps called SOS Alerts that activate during major natural, man-made, or humanitarian disasters.

During a crisis, people need real-time information. Whether they’re experiencing an issue on the ground or trying to understand the situation from afar, Google wants their products to give people quick access to important information—such as what is going on and where it is happening—to help them stay safe and informed.

For people using Google Search to learn more about a crisis, SOS Alerts connects them with news, maps, and whenever available, updates from local authorities, emergency resources, donation opportunities, and more—all organized in one place for easy access and sharing.

For people using Maps to find out more about a crisis, SOS Alerts provide live updates about what’s going on in the area, as well as direct access to emergency resources, such as hotline numbers.

Google Public Alerts complement SOS Alerts by helping local and public authorities communicate emergency messages specifically related to official weather, public safety, and earthquake alerts.

The tech giant developed SOS Alerts in partnership with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), the Red Cross and local emergency authorities.

The below image is an example of what a Google search result might look like in an area dealing with wildfires:

Sources: Google Crisis Response, Google blog and NextGov

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Need to spend FY2017 dollars by June 30? Buy custom (or red) preparedness books

June 1, 2017

If you or any agencies, businesses or nonprofits you know would like a customized version of our 266page disaster preparedness and first aid manual, we are doing a large bundled print late June 2017 for July delivery.

Our IT’S A DISASTER! bulk price is only $4.50 U.S. each (70% off list) and we customize them for free either in the print process on 1,000 units & up or with peel & stick labels on 10 copies & up.

We bundle 1,000 unit & up custom jobs together and the entire cover and title can be changed, and the first 12 pages can be personalized with local data, maps, reporting-in procedures, etc. in full color on glossy paper.

You can also add 48 to 288 extra full color glossy customizable pages for an upcharge and FSC can help manage a revenue sharing project for your agency, group and community.

Please note, if you have limited (or year-end) funds and just need a small quantity of books (10 copies & up), we can supply you with our standard red books and free labels. And we can ship red books within 24 hours of your order anytime so you don’t have to wait for a custom print.

Learn how to order books (or our ebook in PDF) or call Fedhealth at 520-907-2153


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