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Hurricane Isaac, We’re Ready.

I moved down to D’Iberville, MS February of 2005.  A quaint up and coming starter community just North of Biloxi, MS.  I remember, while working for the State Police, taking my lunch to the end of a pier that was near by our office, sitting on the edge and looking out over the water.  I enjoyed the peace, especially since it wasn’t even two years ago before that I was in Afghanistan looking forward to holding my 6 month old daughter that I spent 5 days with before deploying.  I found this pretty little 4/2 split plan home less than a mile “as the crow flies” from the beach that August.  It was humble, but I knew it would be a good place to start my life over.  I remember watching and listening about some storm that month out in the middle of no where, thinking to myself, “I better hurry and close on that house otherwise I will not be able to get Home Owners Insurance.”  Well, my house luckily enough was not in a flood zone, it was the suckers across the street, so I didn’t need to pay the extra insurance at closing.  I closed August 25, 2005.  Looking back, it’s funny to think how I was barely able to get all of my belongings moved into the house before I had to board up and head for higher ground.  Little did I know at the time that the one night I spent in the house would be the last night.  I packed an over night bag, locked the door, and left.

Hurricane Katrina before landfall, Category 5

Intense Hurricane Katrina video of 28 feet of storm surge.

Hurricane Katrina made landfall on August 29, 2005 on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  She bolstered swells upwards of 30ft and reeked havoc throughout the Mississippi Coast Line with her devastation physically noticed over 160 miles inland to the heart of Mississippi, Jackson.  She claimed nearly 1900 lives, displaced more than 700,000 people (more than the Dust Bowl Migration of the Great Depression) and cost our country nearly $125 Billion Dollars in property damage and insurance pay outs.  To this day, there are still nearly 700 missing persons from that infamous day 7 years ago.

In Mississippi alone, over 200 lives were taken, 67 missing persons, and 5 still yet to be identified.  Over 65,000 homes were destroyed, including one that sat at 10229 Cottage Court Cove, D’Iberville, MS 39540, my home.  My neighborhood went under 15ft of water with about 7ft sitting inside my home before residing.  I remember looking through the portal of the front door, seeing the damage, the water line, the mud, everything.  I didn’t even unlock the door.  I did what I knew to do:  Report for duty.

I reported to the Emergency Operation Center in Gulfport, MS, linked up with the Director of the Mississippi Crime Laboratory, Sam Howell, and conducted Search and Recovery efforts with the Harrison County Coroner’s Office.  Search and Rescue teams would identify remains and our team would recover those remains and transport them back to the “Reefer Trucks” (Refrigerated Tractor Trailers) parked outside one of the funeral homes in Gulfport, MS.  We had recovery teams mobilized throughout the Gulf Coast.  My area of responsibility was Biloxi, MS.

 
 
Conditions were terrible.  I slept on a slab the first night across from the EOC.  Our communications were non-existent, the only service provider available was Cell South, now called C-Spire.  Our collaboration across the board with mobilized agency’s from law enforcement volunteers to the MS National Guard was decayed.  It was analogue and archaic.  There were next to no communications capabilities while we were deployed to our AOs.  Each team had to be internally self sufficient, bringing everything we needed with us that morning.  Response was slow, the people were restless, and resources were coming close to depleting.  We weren’t ready.
 

Biloxi, MS

Now it’s 2012.  On the eve of the Anniversary of one of the most catastrophic natural disasters of our time, Hurricane Isaac will eerily make landfall on this momentous day 7 years later.  At this point, as I listen to the News from the other room, Isaac has increased to a Category I.  The Army National Guard has already mobilized, the Joint Information Center (JIC) was deployed two days ago and is set up for distribution D+1.  The stage is set for one of the quickest responses that the state of Mississippi has to offer with every available hand poised and ready.  I myself, a Nationally Registered EMT-B, am also ready to provide assistance if need be.  Now, we are ready.

In the short time I have worked for Cisco, I have been part of an amazing team that has relentlessly worked to bring attention to Cisco’s technology in order to aid and assist First Responders so that they may seamlessly do what they do best:  Serve.  With Cisco’s TacOps team and NERV mobile command center those who respond will have at their finger tips what they need to provide assistance to the public.

Today, we are ready.

This was difficult for me to write and share.  As you finish reading this, please give a moment of silence for those that Hurricane Katrina claimed and their families.

Humbly Yours,

Mark Rogers

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The True ROI of Collaboration

As INSEAD and UC Berkeley Professor Morten Hansen says, “The goal of collaboration is not collaboration itself, but great results.”[1]  Working with many of our customers, we’ve developed a framework for assessing the true ROI of collaboration, and it falls into three distinct categories:

  • Operational ROI allows you to assess how collaboration eliminates or avoid costs associated with running your business. You might cut travel, reduce infrastructure needs, lower bandwidth or energy costs, save on office space and so on. Collaboration tools can replace or reduce the need for many of these types of costs.
  • Productivity ROI refers to savings generated from more efficient processes, accelerated decision-making and reduced cycle times. Collaboration can lead to significant productivity gains in any number of ways, such as optimizing within lines of business or matching your organization’s expertise to opportunities early on.
  • Strategic ROI can be the hardest to measure, but perhaps the most transformative. This kind of ROI occurs when collaboration enables your business to take a giant leap forward in areas like enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty, accelerating innovation, introducing new business models or entering new markets. These types of changes can also reshape an industry in fundamental ways.

These three types of ROI sometime manifest themselves differently across Read More »

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Online Meetings Solve Lots of Different Problems

Ever wonder how some people are using online meetings?

We talk a lot about the value of using video conferencing to solve business problems, but sometimes the problem is a little out of the ordinary. Here are three different ways folks are using online meetings like WebEx to communicate in a new way.

Get your free WebEx basic account today.

Making Government Accessible: Live Video plus Social Media Improves Communication

In Illinois, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is hosting an online town hall meeting to improve communication with local constituents. During the forum, Cook County residents can share ideas with Preckwinkle on the county budget, which will then be discussed by the board in coming weeks. There will be video of the town hall streaming live online and viewers can submit questions at the “Tell Toni” page of her website or via Twitter using the hashtag #TellToni.

Working with a Mentor – Online

US News and World Report offers a story about the way learning online Read More »

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The Cisco Government Blog Named to FedTech Magazine’s Top 50 Must-Read Federal IT Blogs!

Today’s governments around the world look to technology to improve operational efficiency, to enable collaboration across agencies, and to provide on-demand and more engaged services to really transform the citizen experience. So…for those of you who work in government, where are you getting information that will help enable you to learn about which solutions or technologies align to or fit your specific needs?

Read More »

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Broadband Backlash: Where it Comes From and How To Fix it

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

It’s easy to find positive news about broadband. Around the globe, government studies show the link between broadband and economic benefit. On the Connected Life Exchange, more examples abound, including my recent posts Broadband: Exploring the Demographic Patterns and How Broadband Reduces Small Business Expenses.

But it’s also becoming easy to find backlash against broadband. It’s neither limited by source or geography. In some cases, politicians rail against its cost; in other cases, citizens rail against its benefits. Read More »

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