Situational Awareness

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    If you don’t know, who, what, where, why and how of what is going on around you; you might find yourself behind the eightball. In this electronic Information Age information is abundant, this is both a good thing and a bad thing. So how do you maintain situational awareness? Being a former scout I helped gather tactical Intel for battlefield commanders. We used acronyms like SALUTE to report information. We were also given priority information reporting requirements. Such as what is the chemical defense posture of the enemy? Now as a civilian I also deal with development of situational awareness. It is amazing to me how under-utilized our smart phones are by many.

    Here are some of the things I use to maintain SA.

    Earthquakes- you can sign up for free alert from the USGS at . But I find the Quakefeed app free in the apple istore very very good. They provide a map overlay of many of the tectonic plate faults.

    Electric power- many electric suppliers have a website that providers veiwers with system wide outages. Get way to determine if the poweroutage is small or large scale. Ours also provides estimated time of restoration for areas that are out. I can even get an idea if our BOL is without power without traveling 45 minutes to find out.

    Your state 5-1-1, these are great- need to buy out? Go to 511 and look to see what is closed, where construction is, etc. many provide a map. Also many have camera feeds that can be accessed by the public so you can see what traffic flow is and weather etc via the camera. These are dependent upon electric however.

    Local media alerts- many local media outlets offers text alerts for “Breaking News”, sign up for them!

    Twitter/Facebook- many public safety agencies have their own social media pages and can be a great way of getting real information.

    Neighborhood Watch- our neighborhood watch provides email alerts- if there is any criminal activity in the area we get details, including descriptions of vehicles etc.

    9-1-1- our county 911 provides a free service called “Safetown” that we can sign up for and access to see current dispatches for fire, EMS and some many police calls.

    Reverse 911 type systems- many local governments have systems that allow them to send alerts via phone (landline, cell and VOIP), however in many locations you have to opt in and provide your information, especially if you have a cell phone or VOIP phone.

    Space Weather- geomagnetic storms, etc- sign up for alerts here from NOAA
    Another site I like to monitor (I don’t believe they offer any alerts) is
    They also have a list of potentially hazardous asteroids.

    Local live camera feeds- besides the cameras on the 511 we have places like the news that have live camera feeds of like our downtown area, and other places with lots of public use. When you find them bookmark them for future viewing.

    Do you have a local “” forum? Unmoderated forum that usually heavily infested by trolls but I find useful information from people who don’t want to go to the media or the media won’t cover, etc.

    Local government meetings- want to find out what is coming down the pipe? Attend you city or township meetings. You never know what you might learn. Changes in roads? Locally our state has been tearing down bridges over interstates in more rural areas. They are also wanting to put roundabouts in. Is a new business coming in? Will that “gentleman’s” club bring criminal activity? Will the new company have hazardous chemicals?

    Just some of the ways I gather information. What do you do?

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