Catherine Hooper's Blog
Tsunami Anniversary & the Psychological Toll
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 10:00

On the three year anniversary of the 2011 Japan Tsunami, Reuters is reporting on the immeasurable psychological toll the disaster had on the Japanese people. The loss of life was particularly painful in small, tight-knit coastal communities. Additionally, despite widespread rebuilding efforts, many families are still living in temporary housing. The article is a somber reminder of the often subtle effects disasters can have on mental well-being.

Power Grid’s Weakness: Transformers
Friday, 07 March 2014 10:00

In early February, we wrote about a coordinated small arms assault on a power substation in Silicon Valley.  The highly organized attack focused on the substation’s transformers, managing to knock out 17 of them.

This week, the WSJ (who originally broke the assault story) is reporting on how difficult it can be to build and install a new transformer.  The lead time on replacing a large substation transformer can be weeks, months or even longer, as they are made to order and there are only a few companies left in America that can build them.  Many transformers are purchased overseas, which can add transportation time as well.

The vulnerability of transformers, which increase and decrease voltage to allow for transmission of electricity over long distances, appear to be a weak point for the entire U.S. electric grid.

Creating a Family Link-Up Plan
Thursday, 06 March 2014 00:33

In a recent post, ITS Tactical offers some practical advice on creating a family link-up plan. Black Umbrella helps clients create such a plan - we call them reunification plans - but we hadn’t considered making one off the cuff when visiting large public places.

When going to a public space like the mall, they recommend educating your loved ones with two simple steps in the event of an emergency. If something happens (fire, alarm, active shooter, getting separated, etc.):

  • Meet at this location, at this time
  • Wait five minutes, then move to this location

Simple, practical advice that can save you a world of fear and worry later on.

Disaster Advice for Governments
Thursday, 27 February 2014 18:23

Jim Yong Kim is the 12th president of the World Bank Group. Over the past year, he’s been writing a series of compelling opinion articles for Bloomberg View. In his most recent article, Kim offers advice to governments on how to mitigate risk from natural disasters. His seven steps are all sound pieces of advice, back up with real world examples.  They include:

  1. Identify risk
  2. Focus on - and highlight - prevention
  3. Conduct risk assessments using up-to-date modeling
  4. Free access to danger info & data
  5. Build healthy ecosystems
  6. Find political champions & willpower
  7. Build back better
Ukrainian Protest Tactics
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 21:51

If you’ve been following the civil unrest and revolution in Ukraine, you know that the Euromaidan protesters have taken control of Kiev and [ex] President Yanukovych has been ousted. The Ukrainian revolution moved quickly, lasting just under a week.

So how were protesters in Kiev able to combat trained Ukrainian armed forces?  An article on describes the medieval tactics used by the rebels, including makeshift weaponry and shielding devices. Perhaps more importantly, the protesters had a highly effective and well-organized support network that provided food and supplies, proving the old adage that “logistics wins wars.”

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Catherine Hooper
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