State of Ready Podcast Team Q&A
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. To check out and subscribe to the State of Ready Podcast, please follow this link: http://stateofready.com/podcasts/. New podcasts every week!
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your podcast partner!
Ed Colson: “I have lived in Portland, Oregon for the past ten years and have been involved in emergency management and communications during that time. I’ve done work as an emergency dispatcher and then as healthcare emergency management at a Level 1 Trauma Center. I own Ready Northwest Emergency Management, an emergency management consulting firm that helps small and medium-sized organizations be resilient. Prior to that, I flew helicopters as a flight instructor and a commercial helicopter pilot.”
Bill Fogarty: “I was born and raised in San Mateo County. I am a Lieutenant with the San Mateo Sheriff’s Office. I have a lot of experience responding to large-scale incidents (Sonoma/Napa Fires, San Bruno Pipeline Explosion) that have made the national news and am the former Director of Office of Emergency Services. I am heavily interested in leveraging new tech into emergency management and response in order to make safer and more resilient communities.”
What are the biggest challenges you see in the industry?
Ed Colson: “The scenes of disaster response are changing. We are facing larger and more destructive disasters with greater frequency and are now shifting from looking solely at natural disasters to events including Active Shooter/Violent Intruder events. Emergency Management is at the forefront of dealing with these events but is often slow in adopting new technology to combat hazards for a wide variety of reasons. Among these, the deciding factor seems to be the cost of new tech because new tech always needs expensive upgrades and updates. This is a new field of study to which a dedicated pipeline has not been established for new graduates to gain needed experience in Emergency Management.”
Can you share an anecdote from your time in Law Enforcement where technology changed the way you responded to a situation?
Bill Fogarty: “In 2004, I was involved in an incident where 2 people had committed a bank robbery in a neighboring city. At that time, I had just been trained on new GPS tracking system that had been implemented by banks in order to deal with take-over style bank robberies. I was able to use the new technology to locate the suspects, follow them through several cities, direct in articles to assist me, and then engage in their arrest. This was only possible because of the new technology, which did not force me to rely upon descriptions, or statements, but rather reliable tracking technology. I am happy to say that because of adoption of the technology several people are now in custody.”
What are some industries that you see as models for emergency management? In your opinion, what industries are behind the curve and why?
Ed Colson: “Private industry, especially hospitality and event management, are behind the curve because of a lingering ‘government will save us’ mentality. Since the events of the Pulse Nightclub and the Country Harvest Festival shooting, they are now seeing the need for robust emergency management planning and response, since they have so many people for so short a time who nevertheless pose a great target for anyone wanting to do harm.”
What industries are ahead of the curve and why?
Bill Fogarty: “I would believe energy companies and tech companies are ahead of the curve as there is a realization that a loss in productivity costs a lot of money when trying to generate revenue. Also, I would add that colleges are still just beginning to engage in Emergency Management and planning for critical events other than Violent Intruder situations. There is an understanding that most schools are spaces for learning and not in the business of dealing with prevention of attacks. This stems from a culture where schools were safe zones. Now, they have also developed a need for technology like V5 Systems to detect and record information to help first responders react to an event.”
Why are you so interested in adopting new technology? What are the pitfalls, if any, of technology adoption?
Ed Colson: “Early adoption of new tech is always a risk because what we choose might not be what the market embraces. There is also the risk that whatever platform or tech you adopt has to work alongside your responding agencies. If you choose something not compatible, then you cannot use that tech to its fullest potential. But then if a multitude of agencies all use the tech, it may already be behind in terms of updates or usefulness.”
Bill Fogarty: “I love technology and have always held the belief of looking at problems differently by using tools available to you. Technology to me is like a toy I want to explore and see what it does. There are a lot of pitfalls to adopting technology, which as Ed says, may not be adopted mainstream – think Betamax if you are old enough – and the cost of investing in technology. Often, if you invest heavily in a specific company it may cease to exist or a new product is developed that is better and more cost-effective.”
What are some emerging trends that you think will disrupt emergency management?
Ed Colson: “Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Social media continues to evolve and will produce more and more content that has to be parsed and turned into intelligence. And finally, drones and automation.”
Bill Fogarty: “I think formal education and certification programs like IAEM have helped developed the field, but they are still in their infancy. Additionally, I agree with Ed that drones are the future of tech, especially combined with other technology like V5 Systems products. Additionally, Big Data and how that plays a part in analyzing and evaluating issues that might impact a community.”
What inspired you to start this podcast and what do you hope to accomplish with it?
Ed Colson: “Both Bill and I shared a common interest in taking EM to the next level, even if we had to do it ourselves. We wanted to give a spotlight to all that is happening in the EM world and found that there were very, very few podcasts that were focusing on EM. We decided we wanted to do an EM Digital Magazine that highlights all things EM. We hope to accomplish a better understanding of Emergency Management, foster a collaboration of people working together from different backgrounds and viewpoints, and engage and draw young people into the field, while also highlighting new technology that can assist in the planning and recovery from an event.
When you’re recording a podcast, how many takes do you take to get it right?
Ed Colson: “We can usually get it done in one take. I think that brings a sense of realism and genuineness in the podcast. It’s just two guys talking about EM.”
Bill Fogarty: “More than a few times for me since, often, I go off-script which contributes to the realism but, sometimes I end up going way off-script [laughs]. Also, I have more than once been a little tongue-tied and started laughing. Ed is great about laughing it off, and we get started once again. I agree with Ed that it adds to the realism and establishes relatability with the audience so we come across as the genuine people we both are.”