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September is National Preparedness Month. Check out the links below for tips on emergency preparedness.
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This month the TIDES team is busy planning for our 5th Fall Field Demonstration. The demo is less than a month away, so be sure to register (see details below). September is National Preparedness month. This issue features TIDES' best practices for emergency communications, tips for emergency preparedness, and a recap of our Additive Manufacturing (3-D printing) event.

National Preparedness Month  

The East Coast has been rocked by a series of natural disasters, including the 5.9 magnitude  earthquake in Virginia and most recently Hurricane Irene. Planning and preparation for disasters is key. The American Red Cross has 3 simple steps for preparedness: 1. Get a kit; 2. Make a Plan; and 3. Stay informed.  September is National Preparedness month so be sure to check out FEMA's Ready.gov for tips on how to plan and prepare for disasters and other emergencies.

Visit Ready.gov for more 

5th STAR-TIDES Fall Field Demo 

demo picThe first STAR-TIDES demonstration took place nearly five years ago on a "cold, dark, quiet" field at Fort Lesley J. McNair, in Washington, DC. 

Instead of static displays, the TIDES demo focuses on integrated infrastructures in operational environments. The demo is independent of the power grid and all communications are live. Previous demonstrations have included: satellite networks operating independent of the power grid; filtered drinking water provided by portable units; food being cooked in solar ovens as part of an effort to save 75% to 90% fuel use over open fires;and innovative shelter solutions, available at a fraction of the costs of deployable military systems. 


The 5th Annual TIDES demonstration will take place at Fort McNair, from 4-7 October 2011. If you would like to visit or exhibit at this event please register here.  For more information please contact louelin.dwyer@ndu.edu.   
Best Practices Emergency Communications  

Following the Virginia earthquake last month, many people experienced difficulty contacting friends and family over the phone or through text messages. Despite the continuing increase in cell phone capacity around the world, repeated crises have shown that cell phone circuits are likely to be saturated quickly, even if the underlying infrastructure is undamaged. If you can't get through on a cell, recommend the following alternatives:  

  • Text messages (via personal phone, or government phone if yours is configured for that option) usually will get through (they did even after the tsunami in Indonesia), but recent experience in the US suggests even text message channels can get saturated.
  • Landlines may be less congested than cell phones.
  • Social media options:
    • Twitter: DHS, Verizon and Sprint had success in reaching the public via Twitter immediately after the quake.
    • Facebook or chat rooms: These can be used for posting messages to whatever audience you'd like ("I'm OK," "Meet me at...")
  • Smart phone apps, such as Life360 application - http://www.life360.com/ (there are several others) - are designed to help individuals contact family members to let them know they are okay or alert emergency workers if they are in trouble with the push of a button, even if networks are inundated with traffic. The app tries several times a second to find a free circuit via the company's infrastructure
  • Skype: calls or chat messages can be exchanged via Skype (or similar "Voice over Internet Protocol" (VOIP) services) if the software has been installed on a computer or smart phone.


The future is here--Additive Manufacturing! 
Last month researchers from Virginia Tech visited National Defense University to discuss Additive Manufacturing (also known as 3-D printing), a process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data. While the technology has been around for some time it has gained a lot of buzz through recent articles in the Economist. Through Additive Manufacturing it is possible to create medical implants, car parts, jewelry and some companies are even using the technology to create custom made chocolates.  While this state of the art technology has the ability to transform the manufacturing industry there are serious implications in regards to security, patent laws, and uses in the developing world. 

For more about this technology check out Virginia Tech's DREAMS lab    
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