Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spring break.

In Boston last week, it snowed nine inches overnight.  It was enough to remind me of having lived seven years in the snows of upstate New York.  Here in Seattle, we are backing into spring and one of the most glorious sights in the region -- the blooming of cherry trees on the University of Washington quadrangle portion of the campus (photo below).

I finished reading papers and turned in my last set of course grades on Saturday.  So I am viewing this week as my own spring break, free of office hours, course preparation and teaching itself until it starts up again next week.

I will be teaching the more advanced of two operational risk courses that I've designed for the University of Washington's Information School.  Over ten weeks, we'll look at how risk is managed and/or overseen by both the government and the private sector.

While on spring break, I'm trying to complete additions and revisions to what will be a second edition of Advice From A Risk Detective, targeting publication for this spring.  At the same time, we are starting to gather 20-25 research notes published since January of 2012 for a second volume.  The work of putting that edition together will happen this summer.   I will write an introduction to the volume and headnotes for each of the research notes. 

Since I'm teaching just one course in the next quarter, I'll have more time for public speaking, writing articles and consulting with clients.  As I was reminded yesterday by a colleague, I have designed myself sufficient variables or elements that I am constantly on the move...including time spent with the cherry trees this next week or so as I prepare for the next quarter.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I feel your pain. Literally.

This is one of the hundreds of photos tweeted last night after a 7:30pm security lockdown at SeaTac Airport when a guy went in through an exit and set off alarms.  Several concourses were evacuated and everyone was forced back through TSA screening. Planes were held from take off or landing until around 9pm.  This is a tremendous inconvenience to everyone involved, including myself, who was coming in on a plane from Boston at 9:45 and waited for a gate to become available so we could land after a 6 hour flight.

What will it take for TSA to improve their breach procedures, including communication of the level of risk?  No one knew anything, though passengers were tweeting away with indignation.  The Port of Seattle was essentially silent during the event.  Surely it is possible to provide announcements to airline personnel, airport workers and visitors to the airport to let them know how severe the problem might be:  is it a "suspicious package?"  Is it "entry through an exit?"  Is it someone brandishing a weapon?

I'm speaking at a port event late in April and plan to raise this as an issue with Port staff.  We need to do better, especially on putting everyone through the raise in blood pressure.  To TSA's credit, there were many tweets about how courteous and sympathetic TSA personnel were on the re-screens.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Do you know what they know about you?

An article this morning in the New York Times, titled "New Airport Screening Would Plumb Personal Data," illustrates just how difficult it is to balance the demands of security with the right to privacy.

The Department of Homeland Security is looking for a more intelligent way to screen passengers than the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) currently uses.  Gathering additional data appears to be the route they want to pursue, through what they describe as a "risk-based approach."

If you have a view on where the line should be drawn on data gathering -- described in this article as "data individuals have volunteered by applying for trusted traveler programs, as well as information gathered through terrorist watch lists, criminal background checks and border checkpoint encounters -- then please drop a line to your congressional representatives and urge them to ask the TSA to align with European privacy standards, just as they are aligning with European lists on items prohibited from the airplane cabin.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Violence in the Workplace

 The second chapter of Advice From A Risk Detective deals with workplace violence and discusses signs that employees may need help.   Here's also a good workplace violence article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette .

If you're willing to spend time and energy, then the New York TImes today has a number of its media critics discussing violence in the workplace and elsewere.

One thing is clear:  it is no laughing matter.