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Two Additional Seats Available for the Think Tank in San Francisco

Deputy Administrator Serino is hosting the next Think Tank conference call from San Francisco on Friday, February 17 and there are two additional seats available – and he would like you to participate in person.

The topics that he will be discussing are:

  1. How to communicate with disaster survivors and distribute information to mass audiences if cellular and on-line communications are unavailable immediately following a catastrophic disaster. In particular, we will discuss how existing communications tools, such as amateur (ham) radio operators, can be leveraged and linked to other forms of mass communications following a disaster. We’d also like to hear your ideas on how we can ensure these communications are accessible to the whole community.
  2. How mobile applications can help emergency managers and individuals prepare for, respond to, and quickly recover from disasters. We will talk about two specific ideas for mobile apps that were submitted to the online forum, and then open the discussion to other ideas for apps related to emergency management and preparedness.

I know I’m excited about the topics that will be discussed and the opportunity for two more people to participate in person, and I hope you are too.

In order to be considered, all you have to do is “throw your name in the proverbial hat” by emailing us at fema-new-media [at] dhs [dot] gov (with February Think Tank in the subject line) by Wednesday 12 Noon EST and we’ll randomly pick two people.

A short note from the agency lawyers: FEMA will not pay for any costs or expenses related to attendance at this event, including travel to or from the event, and any member of the public can participate.

Here are the other details about the event:

  • Time: 1:00 P.M. – 3:00 P.M. Eastern (10:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M. Pacific)
  • Call in number: 800-369-1986
  • Passcode: Think Tank February
  • Hashtag: #femathinktank

Help us spread the word via email, word of mouth, and your social media sites. Thanks!

FEMA Think Tank Takes Off with 650 Participants

On behalf of the entire FEMA team, I want to thank everyone who participated in the first FEMA Think Tank conference call last Thursday, January 26, from the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee (UWM). As you may know, nearly 650 people from state, local and tribal governments, the private sector, disability community, volunteer community and the public joined us on the call, and I was incredibly pleased that our conversation was so productive and engaging.

I began the Think Tank last year after hearing from a number of people – including emergency managers and college students – who had formed smaller groups to discuss innovative ways for improving the emergency management system. Among these groups was one started through the volunteer efforts of two UWM students – Stephanie Sikinger and Andrew Boese – with the help of their former intern supervisor, Desiree Matel-Anderson. I met Stephanie, Andrew, and Desiree last summer and was impressed by their work and enthusiasm. And that's why I asked UWM to partner with us and host the very first Think Tank conference call.

The Think Tank is meant to serve as a forum for disaster survivors, emergency managers, first responders, and others concerned about protecting and helping our communities during an emergency, to discuss innovative ideas on how we can improve the way we do business. The exchange of ideas on the online forum has demonstrated the innovation and perspectives the whole community can offer.

As I announced during the conference call, FEMA is in the process of implementing a few of the ideas that were submitted to the online forum. In particular, we are developing a Federal Disaster Externship Program as was suggested by Marya Domnik and Shai Cooper suggested, as well as Coffee Break Training Program, suggested by Nick Sloan.

The three ideas discussed during the conference highlighted the importance of the emergency management community regularly sharing information and best practices. I want to thank the three conference call presenters, Maggie Myers, Steve Swazee, and Anjana Dayal de Prewitt, for sharing their creative ideas on community mapping, incorporating preparedness in school curriculums, and the National Grid System. My hope is to continue identifying key actions items that can be brought back to FEMA and incorporated or developed into our programs. In fact, several of the ideas discussed in the Think Tank have already caught the attention of key FEMA leadership, including the U.S. National Grid System.

The next conference call will be held on February 17, and it will focus on the use of technology and social media in emergency management. I encourage everyone to continue to participate in the FEMA Think Tank by posting and commenting on ideas on the online forum, calling into the monthly conference calls, and following the conversation on Twitter at #femathinktank.

As I said during the call, the Think Tank isn't just a FEMA project -- it's a tool for us all to use to better serve the American public.

Again, thank you to all who participated in last week's call. I look forward to continuing our conversation, as we work together to better serve disaster survivors.

Join Us for the First FEMA Think Tank Conference Call


Back in November, I first announced the launch of the FEMA Think Tank – an initiative with two components: an online collaboration forum and monthly conference calls. The online collaboration forum has been live for a few months now and tomorrow, Thursday, Jan. 26, I will be hosting the first conference call from the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. The goal of the calls are to discuss ideas generated from the online conversations, so I hope you can join me and others as we discuss ideas on how we can improve emergency management.

Here are the details:

  • Date: Thursday, Jan. 26
  • Time: 1:30-3:30 p.m. CDT / 2:30-4:30 p.m. EST
  • Call in number: 800-593-0692
  • Password: Think Tank January
  • Twitter hashtag: #femathinktank

The call is open to a national audience of state, local, and tribal governments, and to all members of the public, including the private sector, the disability community, and volunteer community, who share an interest in improving the Nation’s capacity in emergency management. For those who cannot join in on the call, you can follow the conversation and ask questions on Twitter.

The three ideas that we will be discussing on this call are:

Members from the community who submitted the ideas for this month’s call will brief me and all attendees, and afterward, we will open up the call to the national audience for further discussion, questions and answers.

This is the first of many important discussions on how we plan and implement innovative ideas captured in our online forum. Visit for more information and to submit your own ideas, comment on others, or participate in the online conversation to generate creative ideas.

I hope you can participate.


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