• Full-body scanning for the shy

    The Transportation and Security Administration will soon launch Full Body Scanning 2.0 at several New York area airports; the new software, known as Automated Target Recognition (ATR), will auto-detect items that could pose a potential threat that passengers might be carrying under their clothes, but the suspicous items will be shown against a generic outline of a person for all passengers

  • The economic costs of natural disasters

    It appears that the verdict is still on out on the economic effects of natural disasters with researchers reaching diverging conclusions on the matter; New Zealand’s economy has actually grown 0.8 percent in the first quarter of this year, despite the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that rocked Christchurch, New Zealand in February; New Zealand may have escaped with little economic repercussions, but studies show that this is not always the case with natural disasters

  • Studying disasters in order to prepare for them

    Disaster Research Center scientists study the world’s worst disasters in hopes of saving more lives in the future; one of the center’s experts says that disaster planning is constantly changing: “As we have a combination of new threats that face us — natural and technological — as we have changes in climate, as we have changes in population density, in where people are living, people are put at risk and new issues are created”

  • Preparing for the worst

    Nearly three quarters (73 percent) of companies surveyed by AT&T are calling business continuity a priority in 2011, and almost half of them are seriously thinking about using cloud technology to help them deal with terrorism threats, security breaches, the problems that come when the power goes out or the weather turns extreme

  • Key to coping with disasters: neighbors

    A political scientist who had moved to New Orleans only weeks before Hurricane Katrina concluded that neighbors — and cooperation among neighbors — are more important for surviving, coping with, and recovering from disasters than ambulances and fire trucks and government aid; to make sure his observations were more than anecdotal, he visited disaster areas around the world, and his data show that his personal experiences reflect a larger truth

  • Disaster relief innovation: concrete tent

    Among innovations which could help relief efforts following major disasters is a fabric shelter that, when sprayed with water, turns to concrete within twenty-four hours; the system works by impregnating cement particles into a fabric from which the tent is made; when the folded tent arrives at the disaster area, it is unrolled, tacked down with stakes, and then filled with air via a fan; once in place, the tent is soaked with water and then left to dry for twenty-four hours; once the concrete hardens, the tents can last for up to ten years; the tents come with installable doors, and since the walls are hard, electrical outlets and plumbing pipes can also be installed

  • More American civil engineers deployed to Japan to study damage

    Last week the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) deployed two more disaster assessment teams to Japan to study the damage wrought by the 11 March earthquake and tsunami; the two teams, the third and fourth deployed by ASCE, will tour the damaged areas which include the approximately 292 square miles inundated by the tsunami; one team will focus on examining the effects that the tsunami and earthquake had on port structures; the other team will focus their efforts on investigating the impact of the earthquake and tsunami on coastal structures like tsunami walls, breakwaters, and seawalls

  • Government moves quickly to help storm victims in South

    So far residents have been fairly pleased with the government’s response to the worst natural disaster to hit the United States since Hurricane Katrina; after tornadoes touched down in seven states on Wednesday, Secretary Napolitano and other top federal officials immediately began contacting governors in the affected states; just hours after the storms had ravaged Alabama, Obama signed the declaration of disaster in Alabama and by Thursday he had done the same for Georgia and Mississippi; by Friday afternoon FEMA liaison officers had been deployed to Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee; the storms have killed at least 350 people, injured more than 2,200, and left tens of thousands homeless in seven states

  • Japan quake reconstruction could take ten years

    Yesterday an advisory panel to the Japanese government announced that it could take a decade to rebuild Japan after the 11 March earthquake and tsunami wiped out much of north-eastern Japan; the council said that the first three years alone would be devoted to building roads and erecting temporary housing for the thousands of families that have been displaced; rebuilding towns could take another four years and a full recovery might take even longer; the damage from the recent quake was far greater than the large quake that struck Japan in 1995; Prime Minister Kan’s cabinet has approved almost $50 billion in spending for post-earthquake rebuilding

  • Waste management critical to natural disaster recovery

    Disasters can typically generate up to fifteen years worth of a community’s solid waste over a few days, with the potential to overwhelm day-to-day solid waste operations and to lead to years of disruption; FEMA estimates that debris removal accounted for 27 percent of their total disaster response costs for those U.S. disasters between 2002 and 2007; prolonged problems with the management of solid waste can lead to public and environmental health issues; slow management of solid waste can also impede economic recovery by inhibiting rebuilding activities

  • Japan sets up reconstruction planning structure

    Japan has announced that three newly created bodies will be in charge of Japan’s reconstruction: a 15-member panel of experts called the Reconstruction Design Council which will offer plans and programs for reconstruction; a cabinet task force, in which all cabinet members will be members, which will be responsible for implementing the programs; and a panel of reconstruction of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, which will be in charge of coordinating relevant policies with the opposition parties

  • Protecting Japan from tsunamis

    As Japan begins to rebuild after the massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami, engineers are beginning to analyze the destruction to learn how to better prepare for future natural disasters; one expert says that prior to the earthquake, more infrastructures spending, particularly for projects aimed at preventing the approaching tsunami, could have mitigated much of the damage; the tsunami easily overwhelmed one of the tallest and longest seawalls in Japan; officials will have to decide whether to reinvest in costly tsunami infrastructure or to relocate communities further from the ocean to minimize the numbers affected by such events

  • Weighing the costs of disaster

    Different people react differently to disasters; individuals exposed to disaster may experience a number of psychological problems including PTSD, grief, anxiety, and increased substance abuse, but the evidence shows that less than 30 percent of adults experience severe, lasting levels of these problems; there may be a number of factors that influence how people react following disasters, such as age and socioeconomic status

  • Australian floods spread to forty towns, threaten Great Barrier Reef

    The floods in Australia continue to spread; forty towns have been flooded so far, affecting 200,000 people; as tons of toxic sludge are being washed into the sea, the famous Great Barrier Reef is now threatened; economists say the disaster could potentially shave about 0.5 percent off Australia’s annual GDP; snakes and marauding crocodiles are among the hazards for the besieged residents of steamy Queensland state, along with disease-carrying mosquitoes and the possibility of looting

  • Engineers develop more earthquake-resistant building designs

    Virginia Tech researchers are developing a next generation of design criteria for buildings located in geographic regions where earthquakes are known to occur, either rarely or frequently; in the future, structural engineers will base their designs on the concepts of Performance Based Earthquake Engineering (PBEE), where the objective is to control damage and provide life-safety for any size of earthquake that might occur