SPIN Global is a Washington D.C based small business that provides software solutions which help private, non-governmental and public sector agencies improve coordination prior to a disaster and enables organizations to jointly plan, train and operate effectively as a team and assist one another in the time of need.
A survey done by the National Center for Disaster Preparedness found that 65% of American households do not have adequate plans and supplies for a disaster, while, 41% of Americans are not confident that their community has adequate plans in place for an unexpected disaster. SPIN Global is trying to change this. It is a company which specializes in disaster preparedness and emergency management and hopes to make communities more resilient to the harmful impacts of natural disasters. It is mainly active in the U.S., Canada and Southeastern Europe, and is currently expanding to other foreign countries.
Joel Thomas is the founder of SPIN Global and worked as a volunteer responder in over 30 countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East prior to founding SPIN Global. After seeing the unsustainable practices many of the organizations employ, Thomas wanted to make better use of government and nonprofit resources in humanitarian aid. Thus, Thomas started SPIN Global to better coordinate between disaster management stakeholders so that governments, private companies, and not-for-profits can work together in an efficient and timely manner.
According to Thomas, coordination is the biggest challenge in preparing for disasters. Disaster management requires excellent coordination and communication between local, state, federal and private stakeholders so that stakeholders have a better sense of what exactly is going on at the scene of the disaster to better understand who is doing what and what area needs more aid etc. ArcGIS plays an important role in this because of its location-based capabilities. GIS enables SPIN Global to carry out its mission and allows for better collaboration between stakeholders.
SPIN Global’s work with the Department of Homeland Security demonstrates this. A key challenge in crisis management is “interoperability,” meaning “how we work together”. Thomas says the “key to coordination is information sharing.” Meaning, it is crucial to know exactly what is going on in order to contribute and make the situation better. Thomas developed a crisis information management framework that accounts for human and technical interoperability dimensions. This framework starts with assessing an area’s capabilities, which includes governance, standard operating procedure, technologies, training and exercises, and usage. Once an area’s capabilities are assessed, it is possible to improve the system as a whole. This framework is being tested in partnership with NATO, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Montenegro.
The crisis information management framework builds upon SPIN Global’s work in the U.S. and Canada under Obama’s & Harper’s “Beyond the Border” Initiative to improve communications, and the interoperability of first responders to move across the border. Often times, the closest available resource is in the other country which presents legal, technical and policy hurdles. SPIN Global’s approach breaks through these barriers. Hence, countries at a national or local level will be able to share information, have a common operational framework, and make their natively managed systems work together.
SPIN Global also uses economic data to help disaster management stakeholders understand how to plan and prioritize recovery efforts after a disaster. This is done using macroeconomic loss estimation models. Developing such analytical information models will help drive decision making in economic and physical recovery efforts.
SPIN Global is currently launching a web platform called Planet Ready which allows individuals, families and businesses to understand their local hazards, calculate a personal risk score, develop a disaster plan, train for a disaster with exercises and courses, shop for gear needed in case of a disaster, and help other disaster survivors with financial assistance. Since the platform is location enabled, it allows individuals to really understand their personal risk to threats and hazards. It’s essentially a disaster risk rating and will be available for everyone all over the world. It will be launched this fall.
“The data says for every dollar spent in preparedness for disaster mitigation, you save at least 4 in responsive recovery, only focusing on recovery efforts will cost at least four times more later on… This can be done using GIS and analytics. Understanding your vulnerability to threats and hazards in a specific location will make you more likely to prepare beforehand,” said Joel Thomas. Thomas envisions that SPIN Global will continue to expand and work on a multinational scale.
To learn more about SPIN Global, click here.
Written by Danielle Bayer