• DISASTERSIn Disasters, People Are Abandoning Official Info for Social Media. How to Know What to Trust

    By Stan Karanasios and Peter Hayes

    In an emergency, where do you turn to find out what’s going on and what you should do to stay safe? The rise of social media has seen community groups, volunteers and non-government organizations nudging out official channels. While these informal sources often provide faster, more local information, they may also be less reliable than government sources.

  • EARTHQUAKESCracking the Secrets to Earthquake Safety, One Shake Simulation at a Time

    A new experimental capability, designed to replicate realistic earthquakes in the laboratory, paired with the world’s fastest supercomputers, will help lead to resilient buildings and infrastructure across the U.S.

  • HURRICANE RESPONSEDeep Learning Underlies Geographic Dataset Used in Hurricane Response

    Extreme weather and natural disasters are happening with increasing frequency across the United States and its territories. Accurate and detailed maps are critical in emergency response and recovery. ORNL’s has mapped and characterized all structures within the United States and its territories to aid FEMA in its response to disasters.

  • FIREFIGHTERSA Machine Learning-Based Solution May Help Firefighters Avoid Deadly Backdrafts

    A lack of oxygen can reduce even the most furious flame to smoldering ash. But when fresh air rushes in, say after a firefighter opens a window or door to a room, the blaze may be suddenly and violently resurrected. Researchers have devised a plan for informing firefighters of what dangers lie behind closed doors.

  • COMMUNICATION SECURITYSecurity-Focused, 5G Wireless Test Range

    Researchers have opened the nation’s first open-air, 5G wireless test range focused exclusively on security testing, training and technology development. The range will be used by government, academic and industry collaborators. Although limited 5G service is available in selected cities across the country, widespread adoption is still years away.

  • TOXIC LEGACY9/11 Survivors’ Exposure to Toxic Dust and the Chronic Health Conditions That Followed Offer Lessons That Are Still Too Often Unheeded

    By Roberto Lucchini

    After the 9/11 attack, more than 100,000 responders and recovery workers from every U.S. state – along with some 400,000 residents and other workers around ground zero – were exposed to a toxic cloud of dust that fell as a ghostly, thick layer of ash and then hung in the air for more than three months. The World Trade Center dust plume consisted of a dangerous mixture of cement dust and particles, asbestos and a class of chemicals called persistent organic pollutants. The dust also contained heavy metals that are known to be poisonous to the human body and brain, such as lead and mercury, and PCB.

  • DRONESDrone Research to Support Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Response

    FAA Awards $2.7 million in drone research to support disaster preparedness and emergency response. This is the third round of Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) grants, which brings the total to 20 grants valued at $21 million for Fiscal Year 2022.

  • FLOODSMultiform Floods: A Growing Climate Threat

    By Astrid Caldas

    We are in the thick of danger season (aka summer), that time of year when droughts, heat waves, wildfires, floods and hurricanes are more likely to happen. Not only that; climate change has made these disasters more severe and more likely to occur.

  • DISASTERSPrediction of Human Movement During Disasters Allows More Effective Emergency Response

    The COVID-19 pandemic, bigger and more frequent wildfires, devastating floods, and powerful storms have become facts of life. With each disaster, people depend on the emergency response of governments, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector for aid when their lives are upended. But there is a complicating factor: people tend to disperse with such disasters, making aid delivery more difficult.

  • DETECTIONMaking Muons for Scientific Discovery, National Security

    The Pentagon and other agencies have sought advanced sources that generate gamma rays, X-rays, neutrons, protons, and electrons to enable a variety of scientific, commercial, and defense applications – from medical diagnostics, to scans of cargo containers for dangerous materials, to non-destructive testing of aircraft and their parts to see internal defects. The problem: None of these sources can image through concrete walls several meters thick, map the core of a volcano from the outside, or peer deep underground to locate chambers and tunnels. Muons — deeply penetrating subatomic particles – can do all those things. DARPA seeks a compact source for muons.

  • DISASTER EVACUATIONEvacuating Outside the Lines

    Researchers at the University of Tsukuba show how extending evacuation options to shelters outside the borders of a city can help increase the efficiency of flood responses, which may reduce the disruption caused by natural disasters.

  • FIST RESPONDERSComing Soon: Solar-Powering First Responders?

    Fabric woven to harness solar power recently completed weaving trials. The fabric will ultimately be used to design high-functioning gear that can keep responders’ tech charged and ready.

  • EARTHQUAKESThe World’s Largest Experimental Earthquake Infrastructure Facility

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) promotes research investments and technology that help recognize and mitigate the impacts of natural disasters across the U.S.“The ability to test infrastructure under a full range of motion is critical for unleashing new and pioneering research that can lead to effective, economical and innovative infrastructure designs and retrofitting strategies for existing infrastructure,” said NSF director Sethuraman Panchanathan.

  • FLOODSClimate Change, Land-Use Changes Increase Likelihood of Flood Events

    The German government estimates the total losses resulting from the disastrous floods in July 2021 at 32 billion euros. To improve future preparedness for such extreme events, researchers advise that risk assessments take greater account of the landscape and river courses, how they change, and how sediments are transported. In addition, projections show an increase in the spatial extent and frequency of such extreme events, as well as higher amounts of precipitation.

  • SEARCH & RESCUENew Imaging Method Reveals Concealed Objects

    Imaging scenes that lie outside an observer’s direct line of sight could greatly enhance search and rescue missions, such as finding a lost child in an abandoned factory, as well as military and police surveillance operations, such as exposing a hidden terrorist or enemy stronghold. Using submillimeter radiation naturally emitted by objects and people, researchers see around corners.