Browsing: Disaster Resilience

Guest blog post by Dominic Sims, CEO, International Code Council “Buildings built to the most modern building codes were the safest places to be during Hurricane Sandy.” Having spent most of my life in code enforcement, I’ve known this to be fact and have seen the evidence with my own eyes. But hearing New York City Chief Resilience Officer Daniel Zarrilli say it on stage at the White House Conference on Resilient Building Codes this past May after the death and destruction wrought on the Northeast during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 brought back so many memories and reminded me why the International Code Council’s motto and mission is: “People Helping People Build a Safer World.” Spending much of my career…

If you’ve ever used a device that picks up signals over the air, you know that sometimes you just can’t get the signal to come in clearly. You point the device every which way, move it all around the room, do a little dance, but nothing seems to work. There doesn’t seem to be any explanation. Maybe it’s sunspots, who knows? While that’s an annoyance for us, sometimes people’s lives depend on that signal getting through. People like firefighters. One of my group’s more recent projects has been to help make sure that their signals get through, wherever they are. Like many people, I’m in awe of what firefighters do. With seemingly little regard for their own safety, they routinely…

The May 22, 2011, tornado in Joplin, Mo., rated an EF-5—the most powerful ranking—on the Enhanced Fujita tornado intensity scale. It caused 161 fatalities and more than 1,000 injuries, making it the deadliest single tornado in the U.S. since we began keeping official records in 1950. With losses approaching $3 billion, it was also the costliest tornado on record. All told, the tornado damaged 553 business structures and nearly 7,500 residential structures. Over 3,000 of those residences were heavily damaged or completely destroyed. I was among a small, but highly skilled team of engineers and a sociologist dispatched to the scene two days later to collect data on how well the buildings and emergency communications systems had performed during the storm.…

Earlier this week at NIST, we brought together a diverse group of people who will have a profound influence on the future of our cities and the services provided to their citizens. These 300 leaders from government, industry, and academia came to attend an event called the Global City Team Challenge (GCTC) Tech Jam. The GCTC program, launched in 2014 by NIST with a number of partners from the federal government and industry, is one way that NIST is supporting the Administration’s Smart City Initiative announced last September. Two of the questions I get most often when I mention this topic are: What is a “smart city”? And why is NIST involved? I’ll offer my perspective, and I encourage you…