Software Uses Twitter To Track Dengue Outbreaks In Brazil

submitted by Mary Suzanne Kivlighan

Kaiser Family Foundation - July 19, 2011

The New Scientist reports on a software program that is being used "to identify a high correlation between the time and place where people tweet they have dengue and the official statistics for where the disease appears each season."

Researchers at two Brazilian National Institutes of Science and Technology worked together to create the software, which filters tweets containing the word "dengue" and user location details. "Dengue outbreaks occur every year in Brazil, but exactly where varies every season. It can take weeks for medical notifications to be centrally analyzed, creating a headache for health authorities planning where to concentrate resources," the publication notes. Using Twitter could speed up response time, according to Wagner Meira, a computer scientist at the Federal University of Minus Gerais who led the study (Corbyn, 7/18).

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Communicating With the Public During Emergencies: An Update on Federal Alert & Warning Efforts

submitted by Mike Kraft

                                                

Testimony of Damon Penn, Assistant Administrator, National Continuity Programs, Before the House Committee on Homeland Security, "Communicating With the Public During Emergencies: An Update on Federal Alert & Warning Efforts"

dhs.gov - Release Date: July 8, 2011 - Washington, D.C.

Introduction

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Upper Midwest Braces for Dangerous and Long Heat Wave

Reuters - July 15, 2011

(Reuters) - A heat wave hovering in the central and southern states is expanding north to states not accustomed to intense and prolonged heat.

"This is going to be especially bad in the upper Midwest," said Chris Vaccaro, a spokesman for the National Weather Service.

Temperatures will be in the 90's and possibly hit 100 degrees in some places. When humidity is factored in, the heat index could reach 115 degrees.

These soaring mercury levels are unusual for states like North and South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin, Vaccaro said, which makes this heat wave particularly dangerous in those places. In Minneapolis alone highs could reach 15 degrees above normal.

The heat was apparently to blame for the death of a 72-year-old man in South Memphis, Tennessee.

The man died Wednesday, according to the Shelby County Health Department.

The air conditioning in his home was malfunctioning and blowing hot air. And while a fan was in use, the windows were closed, the agency reported.

Traces of Radiation Found in 2 Whales Off Japan

submitted by Luis Kun

by Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press - June 15, 2011

In this Monday, June 13, 2011 photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co., a machine collects radioactive substances in the air for sampling at the Unit 3 of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese whalers caught two animals along the northern coast that had traces of radiation, presumably from leaks at a damaged nuclear power plant, officials said Wednesday.

Two of 17 minke whales caught off the Pacific coast of Hokkaido showed traces of radioactive cesium, both about one-twentieth of the legal limit, fisheries officials said.

They are the first whales thought to have been affected by radiation leaked from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant since it was hit by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

"The levels are far below the limit, and the meat from the catch is safe for consumption," Fisheries Agency official Kosei Takekoshi said.

World Bank Is Opening Its Treasure Chest of Data

World Bank - Washington D.C.

 . . . "the most valuable currency of the World Bank isn’t its money — it is its information" . . .

 . . . "The bank, he says, is essentially widening the circle of people it can brainstorm with." . . .

 . . . "Having created models for open-sourcing and crowd-sourcing, the bank is now moving toward mash-ups. A new Mapping for Results program offers interactive maps pinpointing locations of almost 3,000 bank projects in more than 16,000 places worldwide. Links open up pages with information about each project, and users can add overlays that show, say, where infant mortality is highest to see whether the bank’s work in those areas matches the need.

The program is sensitive because it involves releasing data provided by client governments and others, but the hope is that it will prompt these parties to link their own data on economic and social development to the site or otherwise make it available." . . .

World Bank Is Opening Its Treasure Chest of Data

HeraldTribune.com - Stephanie Strom - July 3, 2011

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EPA Fracking Study To Focus On 5 States, But Not Wyoming

The Huffington Post - June 26, 2011

by ProPublica's Abrahm Lustgarten

The Environmental Protection Agency will focus its national study of hydraulic fracturing on seven areas in five states, but will exclude the two Wyoming gas fields where agency researchers have already collected some of the most in-depth data on drilling's environmental impacts.

The study – which was announced last March, without specifics on research sites – will investigate alleged water contamination from drilling in five areas in Texas, Colorado, North Dakota and Pennsylvania. It also will encompass cradle-to-grave research projects in Pennsylvania and Louisiana, where the agency will track drilling's effects on water quality from before the drill bit hits the ground to after hydraulic fracturing has been performed.

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Why a Hyper-Personalized Web is Bad for You (Q&A)

submitted by Joyce Fedeczko

CNET News - May 17, 2011

We all like having things tailored to our specific needs and interests. But Eli Pariser thinks we should beware of the substantial risks inherent in the increasing personalization of the Internet.

Better known (so far) as the executive director of the progressive political action committee MoveOn.org, Eli Pariser is making noise these days as the author of "The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You." His new book, which was released yesterday, argues that the latest tools being implemented by the likes of Google and Facebook for making our Internet experiences as individual as possible are taking us down some very unsavory paths.

First, of course, Pariser explains the dynamic we all face online today: that no two people's Web searches, even on the same topics, return the same results. That's because search engines and other sites are basing what they send back on our previous searches, the sites we visit, ads we click on, preferences we indicate, and much more. Not to mention the fact that we are more and more shielded from viewpoints counter to our own.

Week's Quote by Michael Chertoff: On the Importance of Open Source Data

 

"When you're dealing with a large social phenomenon, there is a huge 
amount of open-source data out there. If you can marry that together 
with sophisticated analytic tools and subject matter expertise, you can 
see a lot about trends and things that are developing that you're not 
going to get in an intelligence report."

http://gigaom.com/cloud/big-data-analysis-can-thwart-combat-threats/

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The Nation: Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency Claims a Near Catastrophic Meltdown of the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant in Nebraska

 This unusual story from Pakistan's "The Nation" claims that there has been a cover up of a near catastrophic meltdown for the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant near Omaha, Nebraska.  Evidence from the nuclear power plant and U.S. regulators indicate that the Pakistani story and Russian claims are significantly over-reaching.  The flooding that caused a Fukushima reactor 4-like spent fuel rod cooling pond interruption of power led to a 90 minute interruption of power, but the temperature of the cooling pond and the water coverage of the spent fuel rods did not approach circumstances that would cause a meltdown, according to U.S. officials. 

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Vermont Resilience Serious Game Simulation

U.N./Brookings Meeting: Good Practices for Humanitarian Response in Complex Security Environments

To Stay and Deliver: Good Practice for Humanitarians in Complex Security Environments Tuesday, June 21, 2011, 9:00 am - 10:30 am The Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium, 1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC Humanitarian assistance providers have always acknowledged the risks inherent to their line of work, yet recent statistics demonstrate that this is a particularly hazardous time to be an aid worker. Within the past decade, casualty rates have tripled, reaching above 100 deaths per year. Since 2005, hundreds of major attacks have been reported on aid workers in Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia and other countries, prompting aid agencies to limit their presence in areas where assistance may be most needed. In response to the growing tension between maintaining humanitarian access and ensuring humanitarians' safety, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has documented strategies and practices for upholding effective operations in high security risk contexts. On June 21, the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement will host the launch of the OCHA- commissioned study, "To Stay and Deliver: Good Practice for Humanitarians in Complex Security Environments," with a discussion exploring risk management strategies to protect humanitarian operations and personnel.

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DOE Meeting: Lessons Learned from Japan Event

FYI: Website regarding DOE meeting last week on lessons learned from
Japan event as they apply to DOE facilities.


On June 6-7, 2011, the Department of Energy (DOE), Health, Safety and
Security (HSS) Office held a nuclear safety workshop on the preliminary
lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi event for the DOE nuclear
enterprise.  The workshop was held at the Crystal City Marriott in

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FEMA: Whole Society Initiative and Community Resilience

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The mission of the FEMA Whole Society Initiative and Community Resilience working group is to explore the best practices for engaging whole society initiative in mega-disasters.

Failed States Index 2011 Launch Event: National Press Club on June 29

 

oin The Fund for Peace (FfP) and BENS for the launch of this year’s Failed States Index (FSI).  The FSI is a leading index that annually highlights current trends in social, economic and political pressures that affect all states, but can strain some beyond their capacity to cope.  Apart from the impact on their people, fragile and failed states present the international community with a variety of challenges. In today's world, with its globalized economy, information systems and security challenges, pressures on one fragile state can have serious repercussions not only for that state and its people, but also for its neighbors and other states halfway across the globe.

The Launch event will include:

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New smartphone app reduces information overload


Published 14 June 2011 
Researchers have developed a new smartphone application to avoid information overload by processing large quantities of data in real time and presenting it in user friendly clusters; the software is the first to allow a user to make real time adjustments to how information is displayed on a phone as it is acutely "aware" of how cluttered the screen is; the new application can be used in a wide array of instances including natural disasters, monitoring multiple hospital patient's heart levels, and mapping the locations of first responders deployed during an emergency

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