Thursday, August 26, 2010

National Dialogue on Preparedness Update 08-26-10

I’m doing this week’s update on the National Dialogue on Preparedness web site early because the site closes for new ‘Ideas’, comments and voting when the month closes next week. I want to make sure that everyone gets the additional day to get to the site, submit their insightful ideas, comment on the Ideas in the current crop that are of personal interest, and most of all vote on the Ideas posted to the board.

As of 8:20 pm EDT tonight there were a total of 144 ideas posted on the site. A total of 416 users have posted 237 comments and voted a total of 1,614 times. That vote total definitely gives a distorted picture of the true case. Since you can actively vote-thumbs up or thumbs-down, the act of not voting on a particular Idea (if you have voted on anything else) is actually a statistical commentary on that Idea. With the Ideas being ranked based upon their vote totals, a non-vote is a mildly negative response; not a bad as a thumbs down, but negative none the less.

NOTE: I just (9:00 pm) went back and looked at the home page of the site and discovered that the Dialogue has been extended to September 10th. Well I’ve started this anyway so it’s still being posted tonight.

HAZMAT Preparedness Idea

We had a new Idea submitted today that was specifically targeted at preparedness for the chemical community and would certainly affect the high-risk chemical facilities. Michael Pirrello suggested that incentives should be given to industry with on-site hazardous materials to invite emergency response agencies to participate in hazmat response planning.

Idea Status

Here is the Thursday evening status of the Ideas that I am tracking because of their potential to be of interest to the chemical security community.

Update "pre-fire" tours to include "pre-hazmat" considerations (3 votes, 0 comments, rank 68)
HAZMAT Rail Shipment Notifications (-5 vote, 0 comments, rank 142)
TSA Chlorine Dispersion Modeling Study (-1 vote, 0 comments, rank 117)
Bring in the Military (-13 votes, 4 positive comments, rank 147)
Counter-Terrorism Emergency Response Plan - CFATS (6 votes, 0 comments, rank 46)
Of my three Ideas (#s 2,3 and 5 in the above list) only one is doing moderately well. Fortunately none are doing as bad as the one about using military forces for responding to large scale disasters. One of the drawbacks to this type of system is that very few people explain the reasons for their votes, one way or another.

My Ideas are kind of targeted at a small subset of the preparedness community so I can understand the low vote totals (I assume their low totals, we can’t tell for sure how many canceling pairs of +/- votes there are). But I had hoped that the Readers of this blog would be more active in their participation on these idea.

I am kind of disturbed by the heavy anti-military vote seen in the response to the ‘Bring in the Military’ idea. Part of the problem may be due to negative responses to some the comments about using the military in a semi-combat role along the border. Part of it may be a long-term fear in this country of military involvement in internal political matters. Outside of Reconstruction (which was an anomalous situation to say the least) there is no historical basis for that fear. But it has been a under current in this country for a long time.

Hot Ideas

At the top of the list of Ideas on each page there are six tabs to be used to sort the Ideas. The first two are self-explanatory (‘Recent’ – ordered by date submitted, and ‘Popular’ – ordered by vote totals). The last three (‘In Review’, ‘In Progress’, and ‘Complete’) are apparently going to be used by the Local, State, Tribal, and Federal Preparedness Task Force, to track their review of these Ideas after the submission/voting process is complete.

The final tab, ‘Hot Ideas’, is one that I can’t figure out. I looked at it early in the process and it looked like it was a listing of the Ideas with positive vote totals; eliminating those with zero or negative totals. It didn’t make a lot of sense so I didn’t say anything about it. I re-looked at the Ideas in the ‘Hot Ideas’ list tonight and that original idea doesn’t hold water.

The top idea on the ‘hot’ list has 48 votes, but there is one idea with significantly more votes than that. The second Idea on the ‘hot’ list is #6 on the ‘popular’ list. Interestingly the two Ideas on my coverage list with positive vote totals both made the ‘hot’ list. I don’t know why, maybe someone from DHS or Idea Scale can explain that.


I certainly want to encourage all of my readers to get involved in this Dialogue. Too often in this country we complain about the lack of responsiveness of the government to the ideas and wishes of the governed. We complain that the only voices heard are those of the rich and influential. When we are presented with an opportunity to have our individual voices heard and our unique ideas publicly discussed and evaluated we owe it to ourselves and our country to actively participate.

It is disappointing to see only 416 active participants in this Dialogue. That is fewer than the number of people sitting on our behalf in the House of Representatives. It is even more disappointing to see that there are only 144 Ideas on how we can make our country and local communities better prepared for responding to the inevitable disasters, both natural and man-made, that are sure to come our way.

I’m sure that our national and personal creativity has not waned that far. Step forward with your thoughts and ideas; become part of the Dialogue. Participate in the discussion and the evaluation of these Ideas. Remember the phrase from the radicals of the 60’s; if you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

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