Friday 11 June 2010

The drummer and the dancer

[Update: thanks for the corrected FEMA NIMS web link below from Atlantic Training, who provide "online emergency planning training course [that is ] inexpensive and has helped thousands of businesses train their employees".]

Drums closing the FIFA World Cup kick-off celebration brought back my African drumming days in N Texas and S California:

drummers check each other out to stay in time and in tune, and to offer solid backup to the dancers in the center. That creates an energy flow that according to west African tradition pushed energy down from the drum into the ground, then rose up through the dancers feet, spread into the audience whose enthusiasm charged the drummers, and so round&round

Drum camp in San Bernardino Mountains
Project management should work like that too - the back office data providers give the beat of geospatial data crunching, and the front office data interpreters do the dancing GIS interpretation, but agencies and public alike judge the mashups and presentations. This process has been abundantly documented elsewhere in the case of major incidents:
a command center in the Javits Center in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 collapse of the Twin Towers had a very simple yet effective workflow: data and reports entered the building on one side, GIS pros lined up there updated the maps and fed the data to a line of servers amidship, and a line of plotters along the opposite wall delivered prints to the emergency staff at the opposite side of the hall, ready to take maps to the rescue site

from MTI Report 02-06 on 9/11

a few years later during the devastating fires in southern California, a command post at the foot of the mountains simply took data from the returning firefighting crews, data were input and processed on the spot, and the next crew could fly out with up-to-date data in their handhelds to the field - fires pushed by Santa Anna winds spread so fast that it was crucial that helicopters drop crews or water on the right side of the ridge

ESRI on fire response
The MTI report above was in part responsible for the US National Incident Management System NIMS protocol. This was initially led after the Deepwater Horizon incident by the then GIO Drew Stephens - his website logs in fascinating detail the in&outs of that incident response. All emergency management is difficult, but the Macondo well response mixed local and remote plus private and public concerns, and therein lay the rub. While the Minerals Management Service managed offshore leases very hands-off, incident response on the Gulf coast was very hands-on.
15 Jun update: Drew Stephens restored the post citing concerns, added bp's oilspill webmap, and told me on 13 Jun that data access issues are being worked out...
Until the dust settles, Shakira's Waka Waka lyrics for this FIFA opener may be of help to all parties involved:
You're a good soldier
Choosing your battles
Pick yourself up
And dust yourself off
And back in the saddle

You're on the frontline
Everyone's watching
You know it's serious
We're getting closer
This isn't over

The pressure is on
You feel it
But you've got it all
Believe it

When you fall get up
Oh oh...
And if you fall get up
Oh oh...

full lyrics on the gather site

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