Thursday, January 26, 2012

Acceptance Research Report

USAID (through OFDA) has been funding a research project that looks at the role of acceptance in security management. While acceptance has long been part of the humanitarian security triad (along with protection and deterrence), its effectiveness has mostly been through anecdotal accounts. The Acceptance Research project is the first time academic rigor has been applied in determining if acceptance is indeed a viable strategy. Over a year's period, field research was conducted in Kenya, South Sudan, and Uganda. The conclusions aren't going to startle anyone who's been doing NGO security work for awhile (acceptance works), but the final report is worth reading and the toolkit is a great way to increase awareness of the value of acceptance within your organization. Kudos to Larissa Fast, Christopher Finucane, Faith Freeman, Michael O’Neill and Elizabeth Rowley for some great work.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Google Public Alerts

Google's Crisis Response Team just rolled out another application in its increasing collection of emergency-related tools. This one is called Google Public Alerts. It overlays real-time earthquake and hazardous weather information on Web-based Google Maps. At the moment, coverage is limited to the United States, but I have a sneaking suspicion it will eventually go international.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Safety Maps

Cartography (the art and science of making maps) has been democratized over the past five or so years. You no longer need to turn to a graphic designer, GIS technician, or cartographer when you need a map. Thanks to MapQuest, Google Earth, and a host of do-it-yourself map Web sites and programs, it's simple and easy for anyone to create a map.

Just because you have access to the tools though, doesn't necessarily mean you can produce National Geographic quality maps. There are a number of design rules you need to know to make top-notch, usable maps. Designers and map-makers who support the citizen cartographer movement are starting to become hip to this, and are offering user-friendly tools that non-designers can use to make professional quality maps.

An example of this is Safety Maps. This slick, free Web site allows you to create a map that tells where to meet during an emergency. You specify a location, write up instructions, and the site creates a PDF file map (based on Open Street Map data). Print the file, cut out the wallet-sized maps, and share them with friends, family, or co-workers (you can even have the site email a copy of the map to people). It's a great idea, executed quite well. And very applicable to humanitarian safety and security work. Check it out and spread the word...


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Animated Safety and Security Training

RSM Consulting is offering some unique training on NGO safety and security issues. The learning material features animated, human-like characters facing a variety of challenges (abductions, fires, natural disasters, civil disturbances, and more). Check out a few samples here. While I can't vouch for the educational effectiveness, this is certainly an innovative (and perhaps cost-saving) approach.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SOPA and PIPA - Stop Censorship

Today (Wednesday, January 18, 2012) you'll read about Web sites "going dark" to protest two bills in the United States Congress (SOPA - the Stop Online Piracy Act and PIPA - the Protect IP Act). These proposed pieces of legislation are very ill-conceived and pose a threat to Internet innovation and free speech (they would put this site in legal jeopardy if it linked to a site anywhere online that had any links to real or perceived copyright infringing material).

The NGO Security Blog stands with Google, Wikipedia, Amazon, Twitter, PayPal, Facebook, and numerous other Web sites, businesses, organizations and individuals in opposing these initiatives. Learn more about SOPA and PIPA here. If you're a U.S. citizen, consider contacting your Congressional representative and voicing your opposition to these bills. Google and the Electronic Frontier Foundation make it easy to do so.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Safety and Security Training in Thailand

Human Development Forum Foundation is putting on a five-day class for NGO staff members who have safety and security responsibilities. The training is being held in Bangkok and runs from February 20 to 24, 2012. There's a 25 student maximum, with first-come, first-serve registration. Visit the Web site for more details.


Monday, January 09, 2012

Pascal's Triangle Lecture

Ted Lewis, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, has an excellent online lecture on risk and probability theory. If you're an NGO security practitioner who wants to dig deeper into probability and risk (way, way beyond what is typically taught in security classes) this is a great introduction. Pascal's Triangle, Probalistic Risk Assessment, and Black Box Outcomes are all covered in easy to understand terms. Even if math normally makes your brain hurt, you'll pick up some valuable concepts that I personally believe should be applied more often within the humanitarian community. The narrated PowerPoint slide presentation runs for about a half an hour. Check it out...


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

DoD Non-Lethal Weapons Reference

The Public Intelligence disclosure site recently posted an unclassified U.S. Department of Defense reference on Non-Lethal Weapons (NLWs). If you're responsible for safety and security in areas experiencing civil unrest, this is a useful guide to understanding the types of crowd control measures that may be employed. (Public Intelligence also has a number of other documents that humanitarian security practitioners likely will find interesting.)