This week we are talking to Desiree Matel-Anderson. Desi has created a team that implements intelligence products in the disaster zone. The Field Innovation Team (FIT) an organization that focuses on bringing smart technology and design into resilience initiatives and disaster response.

So one of the challenges and this is less about artificial intelligence, this is about another technology, but one of the other requests was we need to educate our, our populations on evacuation routes.

Desiree Matel-Anderso
EM Weekly episode 111, Desiree Matel-Anderson

Todd DeVoe:      Hi and welcome to The EM Weekly Show, Your Emergency Management Podcast. This week we are talking to the founder and CEO of the field innovation team, also known as FIT and maybe, you’ve heard Desi on our webinar in March because she was one of the panelists. And the FIT organization is a great program that brings together leaders from robotics and community justice programs, designed technology and more. It’s like our own little walking TED talk. Thank you so much for listening. And now onto the interview.

Todd DeVoe:      Well, I’m excited to be talking to a creator of another nonprofit that does really great work and the emergency manager field specifically a lot in the recovery side. And that’s kind of my passion as well. I’ve Deseret Matel-Anderson here with me, we’re going to talk about her organization and herself. So it does vary. Welcome to EM Weekly.

Desi:      Thank you, Todd. I’m so glad to be on it.

Todd DeVoe:      So how did you get involved? I mean, I look at your background, and you know, you went to law school, and you’ve done a whole bunch of other cool stuff like that. And then you ended up creating a nonprofit organization really focusing more on the recovery side of things in the holistic community. How did you get started in that?

Desi :     You did your homework. A lot of people don’t actually know that I’m an undercover lawyer, but I do use it for good. yeah, that started, and that is a that’s an interesting question. I don’t always tell people how I got started in emergency management, but many of us, get us to start very unconventionally. Not all of us have a traditional start to response and recovery, but, but we had an active shooter when I was in law school, and it was an incident, and I happen to work for the university while I was getting my law degree. So, unfortunately, this is about a decade ago, and there had only been two major incidents from Virginia Tech, to Columbine at that point. So this one was the third really big nationwide incident. And, um, I didn’t know how to respond. I didn’t know how to help.

Desi :     I had, you know, I was in the library at the time, the shooting happened in the auditorium across the street, but we barricaded the library, which had big glass doors. So I’m not sure how much that would have helped. but we, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to help myself. I didn’t know how to help the students. There was one faculty member, a librarian who, who kind of stuck his neck out for everybody. And Yeah. Started to organize a, what was a pretty chaotic situation. But what I realized is, I, it really put me into a quite an awful, it was an awful experience. Did Not have the tools or the resources to help and support. So, from there, I got into emergency management and started working at local, regional, and then at the federal level., and I truly believe that all of us have the capacity to do response, to innovate in real time and to make, to save lives. We just need to have those tools. And we need to know that we can do it. Each of us can be a responder.

Todd DeVoe:      Well that’s sort of talk about being pushed into a career field. Without having that experience, maybe you would’ve been doing something else, but I’m kind of glad that that experience actually was able to make you help other people. That’s, that’s an amazing story.

Desi :     Definitely. Actually, I saw, I wasn’t, that had to happen. I had my eyes set on just moving to Africa and working in the humanitarian sector on the legal side. and I had done that the summer before. So, I still do a lot of work, across the world. but now it’s more focused. It’s actually all focused on emergency management.

Todd DeVoe:      So tell me about your organization that you’ve created.

Desi :     So the field innovation team FIT for short. We got started in 2010. It was just a very organic group and, the shooting had happened in 2008, and I had gone from the cornfields of Dekalb, Illinois, to another Midwestern town, my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And during a, during my, I guess by tenure, and the region at the regional level, we had a major flood, that had happened in 2010 that we weren’t able to get a declaration. Chicago got a declaration, a federal declaration, other cities did, but for some reason our region and our city, we just, we didn’t do our damage assessment, probably didn’t do it correctly the first time we’d done one at that size and that scale. And so a team of us started, outside of work, I thought we need to come up with an unconventional way to support damage assessment.

Desi :     And so we got together in this warehouse, in the middle of the inner city of Milwaukee. I don’t even know if we had heat, we just have little carpet wasn’t even, there might have been a couple of mismatching computer chairs. And we just started coming up with different ways that we could help these communities help our community to overturn this denial of a federal declaration because there’s a really deep need for resources. So literally these people from technologists to artists, there was even a graffiti artist, I think, people from all walks of life, university students. We were all kind of sitting here in this warehouse. And we started redefining some of the terms that FEMA uses. We started thinking about how we could create a different process to get more accurate damage assessment and then of course line that up with the city and the county and the state.

Desi :     And went for a second like to overturn that, the denial of the declaration. So, the beginning really was humble, and it stayed humble on as I continued to kind of move my way through the emergency management world. I ended up at FEMA, and I think a lot of, okay, the reason I was at FEMA in 2012 was that our team kept going around the nation and doing these innovative projects with communities. So, the teams have grown, but we, we were still very, very organic. I was still paying out of pocket. And people were, we stayed everywhere from fire stations to libraries, park rangers too, I think a tree house once. So that’s kind of interesting. But we were still very organic. So then yeah, there’s a whole lot of, a lot of interesting barns.

Desi :     Sometimes and disasters you just have to, they were, you can find a place to have a roof over your head, and sometimes you don’t even have a roof. And some of the situations that we’ll talk about later, but for but anyways, so the teams have grown. and then we formalized in 2014 actually became a nonprofit. Got that. Through the government super quick. I was surprised. I didn’t think it would be that quick. And now the team isn’t just nationwide, but it’s global. And the great thing is, is we get called in, all over the place from the Middle East to Canada to the U.S. and Mexico. we’ve even had some deployments in Europe. So, we just get to go all over and work with communities and governments on really complex challenges.

Todd DeVoe:      That’s really cool. It really is. And I was looking at your, for lack of better term, you’re a request for employees, but they’re not really employees they are all volunteers, right?

Desi :     Innovators,

Todd DeVoe:      innovators, technologists, which is like computer stuff, designers, artists, communications experts, social justice advocates, robotics, pilots, community organizers, environmentalist, food system experts. I mean like if you have some skill, basically and you want to help people, people could join the FIT team, or I guess that’s a redundancy FIT and, and really help. Right?

Desi :     Definitely. Yeah. I mean we even had a, cause we hold, we try to host an annual bootcamp. It got a little busy the last year, but for but we’ve even had a former astronaut, like a former astronaut, come to our bootcamp. And what was really neat as everyone has a different perspective, but his perspective was when he was in space, they always had to innovate. They had disastrous happening all the time. And on his shuttle, well, he was up in space. the heating and the cooling or something had just ruptured from an engineering perspective, and they can’t just call up maintenance and say, hey, can you beat somebody up to help us fix this problem? It’s about 90 degrees in this, in the shuttle right now. And we’re all; we’re all still floating around in our underwear. No, it had to be the team. They had to come up with a solution to this challenge. And so he started applying a lot of his, space knowledge base technology, to some of the challenges that we faced. So yeah, definitely diverse and we like it that way.

Todd DeVoe:      So one of the things I teach you about a couple of my classes is really the collaborative working with emergency management and response and really bringing the whole community into the conversation as a solution. And I think that in the traditional model of emergency management, we’ve seen a lot of tops down we’re going to tell you what’s going on. I don’t care what you have to say; this is what we’re doing. And then now that we have the professional model of emergency management coming in where it’s more collaborative prior to an event, it seems like your organization really fits in that collaborative even prior to a disaster occurring. How does that work? How do you get your team into organizations, into counties and the cities to really work with them?

Desi:      Yeah, so sometimes it is literally a, we get a call like we did get a call Strathcona County, a couple of weeks ago and our friends there had to handle a bombing incident that had happened at a library. This was up in Canada. They did a fantastic job. They had a pretty specific mission for us. We accomplished our mission, did it within, 24 hours, which I’m surprised cause I thought it would take us a little longer, some of the engineering and mathematics parts of the, of, of the calculations that we had to do. so sometimes we get a call as we did there and that was great cause those are partners who are on the cutting edge and they’re really thinking about how to push this field. And because they’re thinking of that and they’re using these diverse stakeholders, like our team and others to solve these really complex challenges, they ended up saving lives because they’re able to expedite their response.

Desi :     So sometimes it’s a call. other times it’s, it’s a group we haven’t met yet. we, we’ve had conversations with some folks after the earthquakes in Mexico, and unfortunately, they had, they had quite a few deaths, but they also saved a lot of lives because of some of their good structural building code. Um, and also lots and lots of volunteers that they had in the streets, literally working. And so, so that’s the group we didn’t, weren’t familiar with. We got called in and physically went out there and helped to support. Yeah. Other Times it’s, it’s, we run this thing called a do tank. Have you ever been to a do tank, Todd?

Todd DeVoe:      I have never been to a do tank.

Desi :     So this, this as a spinoff of the creation of the FEMA think tank and the FEMA think tank was a, actually, it was developed at the local level by myself. And a couple of great innovators during that 2010 flood. So we worked really hard to build out those blueprints and then lobbed it up to FEMA. \ and then I went over there to help support running it. It would, trying to globally; it was fun, a wonderful experience to do that. I give up, I give credit to that community for building that out, and I really think there’s a lot of unsung heroes that I wish, I wish still would have had a little bit more time on that. But the think tank then morphed into a do tank. We were working with New York City emergency management and Basically and Con Edison and power and utilities to come up with a scenario, a preparedness scenario, on a big outage, during the Tribeca Film Festival and a mentor of mine, Craig Hatkoff, who was one of the cofounders of that festival said, does he, I think you need to change your name.

Desi:      And I said, Craig, I think we do too. we’re really not just talking about it. I was a lot of the conversation when we were doing the think tank and just coming up with ideas. But the truth is you’re; you’re not just doing that. You’re not, or you’re not just thinking about it, you’re actually doing it. So why can’t you change that? I think tank and call it a do tank. And I thought that was a brilliant idea. So in the New York City made the decision, started calling it a do tank, really started out of

Desi:      the Tribeca neighborhood and so we from there, when we’re not deployed in disasters, we run this preparedness to tank, and that gives us an opportunity ahead of time for people in emergency management and responders to know our process. Cause we have a framework of innovation that we do a three step process called the three step prep. Yeah. And from the three-step prep, we run this do tank and simulate disasters in people’s emergency operation centers. And in fact, we’re going down to FEMA in DC, uh, to work with the national capital region emergency managers on a do tank in, in a week. So that’s another way we get to know people is by running these do tanks, before an emergency.

Todd DeVoe:      I love it. Fantastic. Let’s talk about your three step prep. What exactly is it and how does it look?

Desi :     the three step prep came out of a lot of, a lot of observations. So, we do a lot of, it’s fun. We work with anthropology, apologists and epidemiologists and all kinds of projects, but designers as well. And, there were a couple of friends on the design side who had said, you know, Desi I think you should start looking to see if you, if you see a pattern, you’ve been doing this for almost a decade plus, maybe there’s a pattern of the success because how can you spin up this amazing, medical mobile unit in Rockport, Texas after a major hurricane? And that somehow seems to work in that. I want to give credit to Heather Kraus, who is a community member who’s really, truly led that effort. Through and throughout., but then are, or how does your team run a robotics petting zoo, to help, quell the violence.

Desi :     So, we’re able to do the work and get in there and help support the response. And so, so I started to, we started a document myself and a few to watch the steps that it took for us to get to these really crazy solutions like flying drones in a mud slide in 2014 which we did FAA approved and incident command approved that was not a rogue operation or how we decided the 3D printed topography map. Like what, how did those come? So, so the three steps are really simple and it was distilled down after looking at it time and time again. And we start with step one; it’s the what. What are we solving for? And you’re probably looking at me right now and thinking, okay, well if it was a mudslide I’d be solving for the mudslide.

Desi :     And I’d say yes, but a lot of times in disasters there’s more than one what you could solve for. In the robotics world. And a lot of technologies in anything that we do, you got to get focused on what it is that we’re solving for. In that case, it was a mudslide, but it could have also been power outages. It could have been the fact that the roads were closed. There was a highway that was blocked off from the mud. So, what’s important. So that’s the first step is why. The WHO and the why is the second step.

Desi :     Who are we solving for? So a lot of times we’re solving for community members. One time recently we were solving for a mayor. There were some wildfires in British Columbia. We went up there, and there was a mayor who was excellent, and he has some things that he wanted to look at to solve for. So we have to figure out who in this mudslide that happened in 2014 we solved for our who was the incident command and the fire chief, we had to figure out…so that’s our who and then we had to figure out why we’re solving for this person.

Desi:      So, so we’ve got the mudslide as to what step one. We’ve got the first part of step two. It’s our incident command. Our second part of step two is why they needed situational awareness to support their search and rescue teams and continued recovery efforts. Make sure everybody stayed safe. And this giant mudslide that literally took over this town of Steelhead Haven it’s known as the Oso mudslide. So I’m so basically here we are we know that our, who is the incident hand and responders,

Desi:      Our why are we want to keep these search and rescue teams safe. So they need really good situational awareness. So, the fun part is step three and steps three is where we come up with tons of, and tons of solutions. Lots of crazy ones. And then we dial into just one. and so I’ll give you an example of a crazy solution that, I think might’ve got it in this almost kicked out of this emergency. my crazy solution was, so we collect all the trampolines in the area to put in the mudslide, displaced the weight, and then search and rescue teams can bounce and leap frog one trampoline to the next to get to places all over the mudslide. Now I can tell you that that wasn’t going to fly.

Todd DeVoe:      That is such an amazing answer that it just makes me smile right there. But yes, that would be very hard to deploy, but I loved them thought process on that.

Desi :     Right think big! And then you can dial in. If you think small you’re going to get really, really focused and it’s, the focus may not be where you need it. So, but the idea was there, right? We need to get over the entire mudslide. We need to make sure helping with these response and recovery efforts need to make sure that nobody else is in a subsequent mudslide. As you know, and, and I am an attorney, so I do know that leap frogging people on trampolines, especially search and rescue team members, across the mudslide isn’t going to fly, but what does fly? It’s a drone. And so, what we, what we ended up doing was getting a quad rotor, working with the university, using their COA there, certificate of authorization, and then working with the Federal Aviation Administration, they were able to all coordinate and flew this drone.

Desi :     I think it was like seven or eight times around this mudslide. Got that data and then along with LIDAR data from the state. So we went to the Washington state emergency management and basically said, can we have your LIDAR data. They did lend that to us, and we built this beautiful 3D scanned topography of the mudslides. So what started out as a crazy idea dialed into an actual idea. We implemented it. And then the incident command got this giant 3D printed topography map that was overlaid with where the river was, or I mean where the river is, where the mudslide had happened. The moonscape, which is a really slap part of this. Then one of our members got a great idea and said, why don’t we put on an overhead projector of what it used to be so we can see where the river moved, where the topography has changed.

Desi:      And then we can start to look at fractals structure to see where the weaknesses are and pending on the day and the weather, uh, we can, we can suggest keeping, search and rescue teams away from certain areas, so there isn’t the subsequent mudslide. So, that’s our three-step prep, and we do it all over the world. And we just got back from the city of Tampa on their emergency management. This was back in August, and we ran a, we ran a giant hurricane scenario and their emergency operations center. So, it’s, it’s a lot of fun, and it’s a great way for us to get to know emergency managers. It’s also a great way for them to get to know us.

Todd DeVoe:      That is such a cool technology right there. I’m kind of jealous. I want some of that. Are you working with AI at all?

Desi:      Oh, we are. it’s a funny thing because there’s a lot of machine learning. There’s a lot of artificial intelligence and talk of it and about from a predictive analysis, which there are some great groups that are working towards solutions. we were early adopters in 2015 and worked with; we started with an artificially intelligent chat bot. Um, I’ll give you the short of it cause there’s, there are so many stories, but in the Middle East in Lebanon was a surge of Syrian refugees and we tend not to do as many humanitarian pieces, but, as emergency management, we tend to stay on the side of disaster response recovery. We’ve got a call in from a group of responders, Syrian responders, from all over. I think they were from, many of them were from Damascus, but they were in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon.

Desi:      Well, he didn’t have a lot of resources, and two of their biggest challenges where it had, they had some big issues with mental health. People had seen a lot of devastation, destruction. And that’s where I’m going to talk about artificial intelligence. The second part that they had is they needed to help to educate their communities on evacuation routes in this camp that sprawled with thousands of people, in this valley. And, and although everyone was doing their best to have, they have their own, they had their own sophisticated incident command structure. there were resources that, they didn’t have. And since they fled their homes in Syria and now they were in Lebanon, there were some things that they thought maybe we could help to solve, with real time with them. So, the first part of the story is artificial intelligence. We started playing around with the Chat Bot. a friend of mine had, had built up and it was basically a chat bot. Do you know what a chat bot is, Todd, or do you need me to explain?

Todd DeVoe:      I do know what a chat bot is. I Use them, but you might want to explain for the audience.

Desi :     Basically this chat bot allows you to text back and forth. You log into an application, and then you can have this dialogue with this, with this robot. it’s quite nice. And the great thing about it is we were able to code it and get it to speak the right type of Arabic, because it’s very specific and there’s a lot of different, we learned that there’s a lot of different dialects in Arabic, so, so it was able to speak a different language. It was able to communicate with survivors, give them an opportunity to share their stories. And there, there were very, very sad stories because obviously, as you know, there was a war, significant in 2015 still going on. And you know, people just needed an outlet. But that goes back to the responders. Responders need an outlet because now they have this community that’s displaced.

Desi :     They’re living in a country that’s not their jurisdiction. but now they have this, this place that they have to keep, some sort of safety and control measures on. And so this allowed people to have an outlet, cause it’s fiercely stressed, well to go into another jurisdiction and should try to establish order and to do responses because they had lots of like lots of fires in the camps to make sure that, okay. So, we had a chat Bot for an outlet, and that was a great way for people to have communication back and forth. And the, and the robot would learn, every time you would speak to it, it would learn more, and it would start to tailor the dialogue towards you. So that was a really great use case for AI. but the second use case that I was talking about was this whole fire evacuation piece.

Desi:      So one of the challenges, um, and this is less about artificial intelligence, this is about another technology. But one of the other requests was we need to educate our, our populations on the evacuation route. Uh, because they were very concerned. They had just had a wildfire a year ago, um, which when a blaze and it just sent this whole tented infrastructure on fire. And so basically we worked with them to use three 60, uh, virtual reality. Well, actually it started, it’s just three 60 wide lens cameras. It turned into Vr in the minute we walked down the different routes of the camp and corn quartered off who’s going to evacuate from what direction? Um, and the, the leader of the camp and the risk responders were in the camera view walking these trails. And so, what this allowed to do was for people to learn different ways to evacuate out, we then transferred that, that information that those videos onto people’s smartphones because everyone in the camp had a smartphone.

Desi :     They may not have a home, but they did have a smartphone. And that spread out to educate a whole community of people. If there’s ever a of, not a wildfire, but an actual fire in these camps, you can be able to spread. So, spread out, and you don’t have to all try to take the same evacuation route. We need to kind of, Quarter this off in order to make sure everybody gets out safely. So AI definite use. another use case is the use of virtual reality. I mean, certainly we had little headsets people could put on and stick their phones in, but they could also just watch it on their phone, and it’s just seen all the angles. and the reason I tell you that story, Todd, is because of some of that education and that dissemination with technology, something that’s going to be happening in the California wildfires soon with some of our teammates. So, so you could be in the Middle East working with the community of responders who are trying to support setting up a community and, keep their communities safe. Do you also could be working here in the United States, to support, folks and the homeland? it’d be a completely different disaster.

Todd DeVoe:      I have a couple of questions based on what you were saying here with the VR. are you familiar with Augmented reality?

Desi:      Yeah. Oh yeah, definitely.

Todd DeVoe:      I’m working with a group that uses augmented reality, but I want to go back to a couple of issues with the evacuation. So one of the issues that were the evacuation that we learned through the Santa Rosa fires with Google maps specifically as people were putting in to their, their phone, you know, how to get out of here and because the Google maps is looking at road a road traffic, it started sending them into the fire because obviously driving over there. so, what do, what do you think we could do with something like Google maps does stop people from using the APP, from stopping Google Maps for sending them into where the danger zone is. What do you think we can do with technology with that?

Desi :     Definitely I think there can be an overlay of maps and speak to each other. So back to this whole, I love the, I mean we’re hearing a lot right now in emergency management about predictive analysis, artificial intelligence. And that is great. We need that as much as possible, but then in real time, we need it to. And so, I’d love to see map layers played with if there is an emergency operation center if there is somebody who is mapping out where these fires are going and working with national weather service for prediction models because we must worry about winds in southern California. I always worry about the Santa Ana winds because that was really challenging last year when we were in Santa Barbara and, subsequently in Montecito, I mean actually I was in Venture.

Desi :     Montecito was mudslides, complete year of disasters. But, so there’s always these, yeah, it’s like one thing to the next fire as mudslides and massive hurricanes, in 2016 and 2017 but, um, but I would suggest that that data and those maps, it overlaid with Google I the Google maps and that there’d be some sort of AI that’s interfacing between the two. so that it can, it can trigger a different route because we saw the same thing that happened over in Spain and wildfires that they had with hurricane Ophelia came up the Atlantic. It’s sand, it’s wildfires, um, creating dozens. I think there was like a hundred wildfires in little pockets in Spain and parts of Portugal and some people did end up driving right into those fires. So it’s a true concern.

Todd DeVoe:      And then the other part of that too, is mass communications, this is going to be a hot topic here for the next couple of years, I think, especially after the Paradise fire or the Camp Fire, which burned through Paradise. Can we have smart mass communication?

Desi :     Smart Mass Communication? Yes, we can. That’s the answer. The question is we have to make some preliminary decisions on where and how we want that to, to interact and interface because humans can make mistakes. we know that we’re human. robots tend to be more accurate, but it does take a little bit of the control out of, of our hands. Then we’re, we’re starting to see a shift from us behind the driver’s seat. I’m like, we’re seeing in, well we will see in the future with automated cars. I think there’s still a long way to go with that because, just some of the sensor technology. But yeah, so we just, we’d have to make some critical foundation decisions about where we see ourselves playing a role in response and recovery in the future. And if we’re okay with, allowing our rules to be adjusted, then there’ll be a great marriage between technology and the human race. But we’re going to have to decide some core values, some foundational pieces first. And, and I hope we do that as a community and emergency management. I don’t want to see us that progress. I want to see us go for it. I just want to make sure we do it in a really kind and careful way.

Todd DeVoe:      I agree with you. 100%. I was talking to some people that were working in the Emergency Operation Center. And she was really taking some stuff hard. And I’m like, look, I said, we’re all here supporting you. We’re just all trying to learn from this, so don’t take anything that we’re asking as we’re attacking. And we’re just trying to learn, you know,

Desi :     they do. They were dealt a really hard set of, of cards. We’re working with a whole team. I think the mayor’s going to be involved in , our… We have a weekend hackathon. I’m happy to share by the way, if you want me to share any current events or what some communities are doing. Happy to give you a roadmap on that today. There are really great things going on in the United States. I can certainly highlight global examples, but we’ve got some great us community partners who are like thinking like on the horizon.

Todd DeVoe:      Yes. Talk about that.

Desi :     Okay, cool. So, lots of lots of community emergency managers around even in our nation who are really thinking on the horizon, their thinking towards the future. And so just some great highlights, Todd, to share with you. Cause there’s just a whole lot of, there’s a lot to highlight, but I’ll give a couple of, of big things. So there are communities in Alabama and Florida and Texas, Dekalb, Alabama, which experienced like 67 tornadoes back in. I want to say it was like 2011. Anthony Clifton is the emergency manager there, and he’s had, he’s had pretty severe weather almost every year. it’s just seasoned this tucked in the foothills of the Appalachians, and they just get some extreme weather system. So, between Anthony and a great team in Rockport, Texas, volunteer firefighters like Gillian taste, and the team. And then in, in Miami beach with Sherry, who’s the deputy director of Miami Beach Emergency Management, between these three states, we started looking at one of our biggest challenges, which is figuring out sheltering, lots of different agreements on who takes care of sheltering and how, and so these communities, pick themselves up from their bootstraps and said, you know what, we’ve experienced hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes, major flooding.

Desi :     we are going to figure out a community sheltering framework that’s going to be designed to support our communities. and some situations it’s outside the emergency management to do, but whether it’s your faith based group in Alabama and the churches, or it’s the fire station in Rockport, Texas or in Miami Beach, we ended up in a botanical garden because if you’re a barrier island and you live in, and you’re just off of the coast of Miami, you’re going to take the brunt of that storm. They started looking at, how sheltering can work. I do want to caveat that Miami beach does not condone sheltering on Miami beach during a major disaster. They want you to evacuate out, but unfortunately, sometimes that does not happen, especially when you have elderly and functional needs and access. So, those communities are looking at innovative ways to shelter, and there’s going to be a guide coming out based on their inside., that was developed by my team at the field innovation team and then, the banking systems ebba she’s an international bank headquartered in Madrid, Spain. So, I’ll make sure you get that guide, Todd. But that’s a really cool one. A second really cool horizon project in happened, in Wisconsin. Just recently. I got an opportunity to go to, have you been to Wisconsin Dells and in the Scansion?

Todd DeVoe:      I have not actually. I’ve been to Wisconsin a few times, but mostly like around Milwaukee and stuff.

Speaker 1:           Okay, great. I’m from Milwaukee, so that’s wonderful. And I hope you had your share of cheese and beer and enjoyed the riverfront a walkway. But in Wisconsin Dells it’s a lot of resorts. They have like the Kalahari, so at the Kalahari, a lot of health practitioners and people who work in long term care facilities and nursing homes. We all got together, and we filled this out ballroom to have a conversation about preparing our communities for disasters. And what I learned from this was they were dealing with, they had a gas explosion and their community of Sun Prairie, a big one. They had major flooding in Dane County this last year and 16 tornadoes that struck, communities like that, dodge Sheboygan and delve in and a whole lot of other counties. So they realized they have concern over making sure that their populations of machine dependent people who are elderly are going to have the resources they need.

Desi:      And so, we ran a do tank on a winter storm and all these public health practitioners and all these responders, they came together, and they started to really focus in on how they can help support these specific communities in their nursing homes, in long term facilities. So that was another great one, and I could go on, but just to share one more, um, that I, I really think is great. Nebraska has been looking at innovative ways. I’m on transportation in the region of what’s called tremors. it’s a, it’s a group of a consortium of emergency managers and hospital associations and folks from all over who were really thinking through that’s really flattened Nebraska, and they get lots of flooding. and they’ve had some drought and some fear of wildfire over the years. Now the concern or this, this last summer was that they were going to have enough rain that it was going to create a flood.

Desi:      and there was going to be challenged with the evacuation of getting people out of areas where there was standing water. And so, these communities came together, and one of their solutions was looking at alternative transportation, and they repurposed, these, these flat boats, these flat bottom boats that they have that they put on the Platte river to help with a massive evacuation of, of citizens in Nebraska. And so from, from sheltering in Alabama, Texas and Florida to transportation and thinking about it from a new lens in Nebraska and even Wisconsin, looking at machine dependent populations during a winter storm or beyond, and how they can take care and support these different communities all over our nation are starting to come up with innovative ways to support their communities.

Todd DeVoe:      That’s exciting stuff right there. I’d love to see emergency managers, and I think we can, we can be at the forefront of innovation when it comes to not just emergency management, but also just helping holistic, resilient communities. I think that’s what we really need to be focusing on because if we can make our community more resilient when a disaster does occur, it’s going to make us recover so much faster.

Desi :     Definitely. That’s definitely true.

Todd DeVoe:      So, we’re coming near to the end of our time and me, and I really do appreciate having you here with us today. How can somebody get a hold of you?

Desi :     Well, I’m usually in a disaster or at a do tank. the best way to get a hold of me is through email. and if it takes me a couple of days, I do respond. I just, we just very active 2018 and I don’t think it’s stopping in 2019 so they can get a hold of me at they can shoot me an email, and we love, love emergency managers and practitioners who are thinking about the cutting edge. And I do truly love getting emails from folks who have incredible ideas. In fact the other day I received an email from a group out of Massachusetts on how they’re working on some really interesting concepts to support with robotics and sheltering for survivors post storm. And so, uh, there are some things that we could do to help support their experimentation, and certainly, they could maybe even get out in a future disaster. Um, so we love great ideas, and we certainly love working with people who want to come up with great ideas. So don’t forget if you, if you want to learn a three step prep and run a do tank, we enjoy coming into your emergency operation centers and ideating with you too.

Todd DeVoe:      And then you guys also have a website, right?

Desi :     We do, we definitely do. And that you can get to our website

Todd DeVoe:      down in the show notes as well. So if you guys are driving or you don’t have your pencil sharp, we can go ahead and just click on that. If you go to the website and or to whatever device you’re listening to the show notes down there. Okay, so here comes the toughest question of the day.

Desi :     Okay,

Todd DeVoe:      what book, books or publications Do you recommend for somebody in the field of emergency management?

Desi :     Yeah. Todd, I knew you were going to ask me this question, and I got to tell you that there are so many incredible books. I have five books that we had on our summer reading list that I am going to share with you online that you could put up from, there’s a great gentleman out of Norway on crisis communications to a whole disaster heroes series out of Ontario, Canada. And then there’s a couple of great resources from the United States. So, I’m going to send you a list, so I don’t lose sleep over forgetting any one of these great books and then a yet check about. Super Great.

Todd DeVoe:      Awesome. And we’ll also have that list on the show notes and on our website as well. So thank you so much for sharing. I really think that reading is very important for emergency managers, not only just to keep your mind sharp, but also learn what other people are doing across the world. And thank you for that. All right. Before we let you go, is there anything that you’d like to say directly to the emergency manager out there?

Desi :     Yeah, that you, you are an innovator. You may not know it, you may not think that you can innovate, but when resources are scarce, when you don’t have enough people under your command when your time is running out, and you’re in the emergency operations center, you will innovate, and you have innovated. So each one of us has it in us. We are innovating in Realtime in disasters all the time, every day, even in just our day to day. Um, so continue to do that, build out on that. give your staff the support to be innovative and um, showing us we love it. Throw us a complex challenge. Um, we’re, we’re always up for it, and we’re always getting to work with you. So keep innovating in real time and, uh, we’ll see you in the next disaster.

Todd DeVoe:      My pleasure having you on this show. I’d love to do it some time ago.

Desi :     Yeah. We should definitely cover next time. Some current, uh, emergencies because we’re getting ready to deploy down to Paradise.

Todd DeVoe:      Oh Man, you got your work cut out for you there at Paradise and, and my heart and mind goes out to all the people who lost something at Paradise. I know there’s, even though 65% of the city was, was affected, I think it’s more than just 65% of the city that’s a, of the residents of them impacted — so good luck.

Desi :     True story on them. They are not only surviving, but they are, they’re picking up their bootstraps, they’re doing some great work. So I hope that next time we get to share some of the amazing findings. And like I said, I think the mayor and some of the community leaders are going to be joining us for hackathon this weekend. So, they are, they’re getting innovative, and a really difficult situation and we’re excited to have him join us.

Todd DeVoe:      All right. Awesome. I love to; I’ll talk to you guys later.

Desi:      Yeah, thanks, Todd.









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