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Use of Big Data in Disaster Management: Improving Emergency Response

There is a new internet-based system that makes use of big data in disaster management. Specifically, Virtua tracks emergency 911 calls to identify locations where emergencies are most likely to happen.  It uses historical data from past 911 calls—factoring the time of day, weather and traffic conditions—to highlight areas in most need of emergency response units.

As reported by CBS Philadelphia, Virtua’s computer system predicts when and where an emergency may happen. It highlights areas where the emergency activity is most prevalent. Then it ensures units are ready within close proximity of problem areas. Virtua has 13 paramedic units using GPS locators. These are linked to a central system which sends the latest updates direct to their onboard computer systems. Units are in operation in Camden and Burlington counties. And dispatchers at a centralized location keep track of the ever-changing map. According to Virtua, the predictive model changes every 10 minutes. That means available units have to adjust to fit this change to reduce response times.

a photo of an aerial map-like view of a street colored in red and orange showing the Use of Big Data in Disaster Management


The Bold Move to Make Use of Big Data in Disaster Management

Virtua Assistant Vice President Scott Kasper informed CBS that “just a few weeks ago we had an area that appeared to be purple on that screen, high predictive likelihood of a call.” He continued, “Within moments of them being there a 911 call came in. They were able to respond to that call in less than two minutes.” However, some critics say it’s nearly impossible to predict when and where an emergency will occur since it is based on chance. What the Virtua system is actually charting with the use of big data in disaster management is just where the 911 calls are usually coming in, which happen to be near built-up or localized areas.

According to a report in, Virtua has come under largescale criticism because of accusations that more than half of 911 calls made to paramedic services in Camden County over the past three and a half years took more than 8 minutes to arrive. Such allegations crush the claims that the Virtua service does what it says. Indeed, as recent results imply the methods used are not really reducing emergency response times, it remains to be seen if this technology becomes more widespread.

In the end, more logical approach would tell you that computer technology is highly unlikely to be able to predict events that are dependent on the laws of chance. Unless the use of big data in disaster management can help us see into the future, we have yet to wait and see if that technological breakthrough will ever be found.

Happiness: Naples “The Happiest Place in America”

Naples, Florida is a special place. The Smithsonian Magazine reported that the city has been dubbed as the happiest place in America for two consecutive years based on the holistic concept of “American well-being” as an indicator of happiness instead of simply basing it on median income.

A Gallup-Healthways poll measured the American well-being index which includes multiple factors that lead to personal and social happiness. These include rates of healthy eating, community-well-being, daily stress, and lifetimes diagnosed for depression. It basically gives a grade on how residents feel about their own physical, emotional and fiscal health, as well as the community’s social health.

According to Time, some 350,000 respondents participated in the polls. They rated 189 communities based on financial, physical, social, and emotional health. The city of Naples, along with neighboring Immokalee and Marco Island, ranked first in the index for both 2015 and 2016.

Other communities which have high well-being indices are temperate or semi-tropical climates near the ocean such as Florida and California with two each, and another in Hawaii.

One of the key factors measured in the State of American Well-Being: 2016 Community Well-Being Rankings survey is the level of individual stress within the community. Naples has been described as the ideal location because of a laid-back lifestyle, higher median income, community spirit, and easy access to medical and dental facilities.

“It isn’t just about physical health or income — there is a larger need to feel connected”

Gallup-Healthways President Karissa Price said the level of satisfaction was the same for both beachside and inland communities. She noted that residents spoke of a having a “strong sense of purpose often rooted in a shared culture and a feeling of belonging”. She further said: “It isn’t just about physical health or income — there is a larger need to feel connected.”

Additionally, the survey revealed that health is now a non-negotiable among Americans. Cities which ranked low in the polls were in the Southern U.S. and industrial Midwest. They scored dismally in the well-being category because of higher incidences of obesity, smoking, and other health problems.

The results tell us that people want to belong to a community where there is an emphasis on being healthy – on all aspects of living. A place that offers this equips its residents to better handle the stresses of daily life. A community that has happier, healthier, more affluent and socially active members makes a bold impact on society in general because these are people who simply want the best out of life.

Elaine Chao, Making Big Transportation Changes

Elaine Chao, the new U.S. Secretary of Transportation, has the power to make decisions that will have a bold impact on the United States’ future standing in the global economy.

In 1960, the US accounted for 40% of global GDP. Although the US is still ranked number one, that number fell to 24.5% in 2015.  China, the closest competitor, held 15% of global GDP in 2015 and is projected to surpass the US as early as 2018. The decisions Chao makes could change those forecasts.

Chao is a seasoned leader with a record of accomplishments.  As president of the United Way, her bold leadership restored public trust following years of mismanagement. She served as Deputy Secretary of Transportation and Director of the Peace Corps under President George H. W. Bush and as the 24th United States Secretary of Labor under PrCalifornia railway project halted - Elaine Chao - transportationesident George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009. This experience will be tested in the Trump administration.

President Trump has vowed to reduce regulations and red tape hampering US businesses and depressing economic growth.  Responsible for regulating land, sea, and air carriers and infrastructure and associated safety, the US Department of Transportation has a broad purview. By reducing or at the very least restraining the growth of federal regulations, Chao can accelerate US dominance in major technological growth areas, such as self-driving vehicles and space transportation.  Where new rules are necessary, an efficient, common sense approach can pave the way for a renaissance in infrastructure construction. Another exciting possibility under Chao’s dominion is preparing the regulatory climate for advances in automation and robotics to enable the integration of human and machine labor.  Such integration will create rather than result in the loss of jobs.

“full and complete audit of the project, and its finances can be conducted and those findings presented to the public”

What kinds of decisions will Chao make? Chao has come under heat for one of her first acts as Secretary—halting $647 million of federal funds headed to California for a Los Angeles to San Francisco high-speed rail project. Proponents of the project consider the cancellation of funds a political move that will cost hundreds of jobs.

On the flip side of the argument, Chao’s decision was in response to a letter from all 14 members of the California GOP delegation asking for a delay in funding until a “full and complete audit of the project, and its finances can be conducted and those findings presented to the public.” A confidential federal report projects a $3.6 billion dollar overrun to the project, 50% more than original estimates.

With both the authority and the edict to make bold decisions that will impact the US position in the global economic order, is Elaine Chao the woman who will keep America great?

Oxford Company Impresses In Digital Healthcare

British Member of Parliament Nicola Blackwood visited a pioneering health tech company for a preview of their bold products and services. According to the Oxford Times, the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon and current undersecretary of state for public health came to see Incuna, one of Europe’s largest digital agencies, to foster the development of digital healthcare through technical transformation.

Oxford is positioned to capitalize on the bold impact of a tech revolution in the healthcare industry. Ms. Blackwood mentioned the recent investment of £113 million in the Biomedical Research Centre under Professor Keith Channon. This is a world-class research institute for medicine and data capabilities. The health official also noted that Oxford has a pipeline of computer science and information technology employees graduating from university which will further their cause of using a technical revolution to innovate the healthcare system.

Founded seven years ago, Incuna is an ingenious firm that creates digital health products and services for specific customer needs. One of their first products is ePatient, a patient platform that has transformed how people with cancer are given the necessary care and medical monitoring. Incuna built this technology from scratch and this allowed them to include patient input and feedback on the patient platform. Medical practitioners and researchers have validated the use of ePatient and it is now in use in 14 countries, helping take care of thousands of patients.

The success of the forward-thinking company has prompted it to create an office in Singapore to address the need of clients in the Asia-Pacific region. It also recently held a hardware hacking workshop for health.

“Our aim is to demystify the process of creating new health technologies”

Cyan Collier, Incuna’s creative director, said: “Our aim is to demystify the process of creating new health technologies”. The company believes that with the technology in place to support ideas, they can be transformed into reality. Taking bold action to devise new ways of delivering healthcare can help to tackle numerous existing health problems – not only in the UK, but across the world.

Apart from enjoying the support of local politicians like Ms. Blackwood, Incuna is also being backed by the European Cancer Network. This will mean more patients will be involved in the company’s cancer research and be given access to cutting-edge medicine and treatment. These advancements will have a bold impact on society as a whole.

Now more than ever, people have put a premium on health, and receiving quality healthcare has become non-negotiable. Companies like Incuna continue to revolutionize healthcare by using technology to innovate in digital healthcare. At the same time, scientists are developing robot surgeons, rehabilitation robots and hospital robots which have the ability to perform complicated tasks while crunching the patient to healthcare provider ratio, to a more ideal number.