Monday, April 30, 2012

Nosey Parkers

Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury 1559-1575
It's not clear just where the phrase "nosey parker" comes from.  Some think it's an allusion to the Bishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker, who ordered up a number of investigations during his tenure.

The first evidence of the phrase in print is in 1890: "You're a asking' too many questions for me, there's too much of Mr. Nosey Parker about you, an' I'd 'ave you to know as I'm a laidee."  -- Mary Elizabeth Burden, in Belgravia magazine. 

I am thinking of this phrase as I read over our neighborhood blog last night.  There are a large number of highly educated people who live in the neighborhood and "keep an eye out" for anything that looks suspicious. In years past, some blocks in the neighborhood were part of a formal block watch program, where they actually received training in how to be observant and report anomalies and incidents to the police.

In the incident described last night to the blog, a stranger behaved suspiciously to the extent that one neighbor actually went out and questioned him about what he was doing in the neighborhood.  Evidently there were four other neighbors observing the episode as well.  The stranger was eventually retrieved by another person who described him as having MS and living a few blocks away.  Words were exchanged about how people have the right to walk around in neighborhoods if they wish to, without interference.  Nonetheless the neighbor who wrote up the event and who heard the explanation felt there was still something suspicious, and so he made a police report.  And then he asked for vindication on the neighborhood blog.  Shiver.  

Other neighbors weighed in on the issue, one in fact saying she would be glad to give up some privacy in the interests of shared neighborhood communications, thanking him for his vigilance. I should say, though, that there were an equal number who felt that such monitoring and reporting was over the line, expressed as sarcasm for the description of  "suspicious looking." 

This makes me worry that, if educated people model hyper-vigilant behavior in my neighborhood -- which is not, by the way, a gated community -- or if they worry about having to behave charitably during a disaster -- we have somehow walked away from the essential lessons I thought humanity taught us.  Do we really have to know a person to behave in a civil manner or to keep our nose out of their business?  Are strangers always evil? 

And where is the line between being situationally alert and aware and a "nosey parker?"  I have no good answers, but I do understand that block watch programs train you to call the police rather than to intervene directly.  I can understand where the anxiety comes from, but am uncomfortable with the manifestation of that anxiety, especially now that I've researched further and found that half the block watch programs in this country are self-organized, with no liaison or training to the local police department. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Digital post mortem

My cousin James Hayes found and sent this article, titled "Deathless Data" from The Economist on a topic I had not previously thought much about.  Though my husband and I share passwords for all our email and banking accounts, I had not thought about my Facebook or Twitter accounts where there is a great deal of data stored.  If we were both gone, would our executor know what to do with our digital property?

Rather than wait for the new service described in the article, why not simply determine who you want to have access to the data after you are gone, and note that in the documents that you leave behind.  It may be that this will become a standard item included in wills, but right now I don't believe lawyers have thought much about the different between digital and material property.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Decision making at the highest level

For those who read my professional work, here's the latest article, hot off the press at Continuity Insights Bulletin, titled The Crisis Management Playbook.  I am amazed after all these years in the business that so few understand what types of decisions have to be made in the middle of a large impact event, so here I've tried to identify characteristics of a good crisis management team member as well as suggest the range of decisions that might have to be made.  Happy reading!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Open Windows

Now that the weather is turning quite warm, it's tempting to throw open your windows and leave them open in the evening when to cool off the house. This is not necessarily a bad habit, especially if those windows are on upper floors. But to leave open basement or first floor windows is just like leaving your doors unlocked -- an invitation to thieves to step right in. It's also an ideal time of the year to perform spring cleanup on bushes or trees near your home that would make it easy for a burgler to climb into an upper story of your house. Feel free to post other security tips here, to share with others.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Make It Through

The business side of preparedness:  Annie leading a Critical Infrastructure Congress panel in 2007 that included the head of the DHS private sector office as well as heads of coalitions for banking and finance, energy, public health, telecommunications and technology.
The City of Seattle has just replaced its "Three Days, Three Ways" with a much more appropriate citizen preparedness campaign called "Make It Through,"  with the subtitle "Plan to Be A Survivor."  It stresses first having a plan, then putting together an emergency kit, which I think is the proper order of things.  And the third clear action would be to help your neighbors.  In our neighborhood, as I've mentioned before, we have 17 leaders, each responsible for some of the  300+ homes in our neighborhood. We've also identified a first aid center, a shelter for those who need assistance, and a neighborhood operations center.

I've always worried that the "Three Days" national campaign implied that a disaster never lasts longer than three days.  We've seen that is not true, especially this past year, and that it's better to be prepared for longer.  The number I used in Advice From A Risk Detective is three to five days until many services we normally depend upon can be available.

Here's hoping this campaign gets lots of publicity because Seattle is once again leading the way from a preparedness perspective, rolling it out on social media tools like Facebook and Twitter as well.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Risk Management Makeover

I was interviewed a couple of months ago for this article in a well-known risk management magazine.

I recognize everything I said in this article, and that's the highest compliment that can be paid to its author, Lori Widmer.  I sent her a thank you note this morning, which crossed her note telling me how much response this article is getting from readers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lead with your heart

Most think about personal heath risks only in terms of work-life balance.  Yet as this article from the Wall Street Journal indicates, even those who exercise and eat right can be subject to heart attacks.

Here's a related article from the Wall Street Journal on how to avoid heart attacks.

Take both articles to heart rather than tucking them away in a drawer.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fine tuning

Behind the scenes, we've been experimenting with the look and feel of this blog, trying to establish a clear link behind my risk detective brand, and the research and consulting practice called ASA that we launched in 2009.  This is even more important to me since we published a second book, Reflections on Risk, which features articles written over a three year period of time from ASA research interns, who were part of ASA's Institute for Research and Innovation.  You can read more about that book as well as Advice From A Risk Detective on the right side of this page.

You should now be able to move freely between this blog and the ASA website via new navigation on the site.  Do let us know what you think!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Email is often the weak link

One thing you can be certain of is email fraud. 

No matter how long we've been using computers, all of us need reminders, even on the basics. -- the set of tips in the link from Microsoft provides a good checklists on behaviors and precautions.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring cleaning your PC

If you run Windows 7 on your machine and you feel like it's slowed down over time, it's time for spring cleaning.

Spring cleaning can be so much more than optimizing your computer, but you'll be happier once you see how much faster it could be running than it is.

While I'm on the topic of computers, let me remind everyone to set their security settings to automatically update your computer with new patches from Microsoft.  There's a set of six security and operating system patches that should be showing up soon for users of Windows, IE and Office.  Since hackers are on to the holes that get patched this time round, loading the patches means keeping your computer safer.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Triple punch

I finished a column on the threats posed by employees to organizations for the April ASA newsletter on Saturday.  Just a few hours ago, I finished my three hour lecture presentation for graduate students in my University of Washington Foundations of Operational Risk course that I'll deliver later this afternoon.  And I've just finished the agenda for our meeting here this evening of Ravenna Neighborhood Emergency Coordinators.

The sun is shining, and has been doing so since Saturday.  I'm going to skip the rest of my task list and step outside for a few moments.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Nature's most violent storms"

 Tornadoes are on the rise this year, and yesterday's series of storms and tornadoes in Texas is just another example of how much devastation can be wreaked in a short period of time.  In mid-May, I'll chair a panel of first responders to the 2011 Joplin tornado, and plan to gather lessons learned from that particular event that could be applied in other cities.

 For those who live in areas where tornadoes appear, I thought it would be helpful to include a link to FEMA guidance on steps to take before, during and after a tornado.  You'll see that some of the steps -- like having an emergency kit on hand -- are the same, no matter what type of disaster we are discussing.

As is almost always the case, warnings are still posted today in Texas.  Our sympathies go out to all who lost homes, vehicles, or businesses yesterday.