IBM Hurricane Planning Software Aids Emergency Services

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IBM helps towns plan for hurricanes and scraps official opening of office in Louisiana, whose governor reportedly blamed gay community for Hurricane Katrina

IBM has launched software that will help cities threatened by natural disasters such as hurricanes plan the response of emergency services.

Through IBM’s partnership with The Weather Company, the emergency management software uses analytics and real-time weather data to help communities prone to hurricanes and tornados plan for the events with greater accuracy.

It is claimed the software will allow the cities or towns to deploy the right resources in advance.

Intelligent Operations Center

“IBM is providing innovative emergency management tools that equip city officials with what they need to predict and prepare for any emergency,” said Major General Darryll Wong, Retired TAG (The Adjutant General) for State of Hawaii. “It is imperative that city officials and emergency personnel have access, and begin using intelligent analytics to keep communities safe in times of need.”

The software as a whole is bundled into the Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) service, which collects historical and sensor data from a variety of sources and applies deep analytics and data visualisation to help agencies coordinate response efforts.

IBM also said that it is able to alert communities about hurricanes 36 hours ahead of publicly available weather forecasts through a partnership with the Weather Company’s B2B arm, WSI.

IBM“The integration of WSI’s 15-day probabilistic tropical forecast, which delivers 1 ½days additional lead time over publicly available hurricane forecast information, into the IBM IOC for Emergency Management solution will help government officials around the world to make far better planning, positioning and logistical decisions,” said IBM.

The platform is a part of IBM’s Safer Planet portfolio, which flogs tools for public safety, intelligence, cyber threat intelligence and counter fraud professionals.

Robert Griffin, manager at IBM Safer Planet, said that Big Data and the Internet of Things is revolutionising the way IBM can coordinate its efforts in a “dangerous world”.

“You know the threats as well as I do. But we don’t have to live in fear,” he said. “I’m convinced that technology can help police, corporate security officers, national security agencies and emergency management officials do their jobs better–making people, companies, cities and countries safer.”

Equal Rights

In a timely coincidence, IBM has also cancelled a ribbon-cutting event for its new Service Centre in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this week in protest to an anti-gay order signed by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

The opening was set for Monday June 22, but following IBM’s opposition to ‘religious freedom’ legislation passed in May, the firm has now scrapped the event.

Jindal, who recently announced his entrance into 2016’s US presidential race, held a rally last year that allegedly included a prayer guide that blamed natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina on the gay community.

A street in Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

“This year we have seen a dramatic increase in tornadoes that have taken the lives of many and crippled entire cities, such as Tuscaloosa, AL & Joplin, MO. And let us not forget that we are only six years from the tragic events of hurricane Katrina, which rendered the entire Gulf Coast powerless,” reportedly read the prayer guide.

Since 2000, the state of Louisiana has been affected by at least 28 hurricanes or subtropical cyclones, and would ironically be one the most beneficial recipients of IBM’s new disaster planning software.

IBM executives said that the legislation, passed in May, “cut at the very heart” of what their company stands for, that being equal rights and opportunity for everyone.

The legislation supports businesses that want to discriminate those in same-sex marriages. Initially refused by the state committee, Jindal issued an executive order that enforced the bill.  It reads: “This Executive Order will prohibit the state from denying or revoking a tax exemption, tax deduction, contract, cooperative agreement, loan, professional license, certification, accreditation, or employment on the basis the person acts in accordance with a religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Jindal said: “All this bill does is provide necessary protections for individuals to prevent adverse treatment from the state based on religious beliefs regarding marriage.”

The letter specifically requested that Jindal should not give his support to agendas promoting discrimination against the LGBT community.

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