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Either You've Faced Crisis, or You Will...

The Oxford dictionary defines "crisis" as a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger or, alternatively a time when a difficult or important decision must be made (which may also create opportunity).  Generally speaking, everyone has either faced crisis, or will.    The degree or scale of a crisis situation may vary widely it may range from being very personal and private to affecting many people perhaps even an entire geographic area, or the whole planet. 

[enough said, for now...]

Avoiding Crisis or Reducing its Severity

In general, it is better to anticipate and avoid a crisis than to endure it, and better to mitigate the effects of crisis than to deal with unmitigated consequences.   Of course, both are easier said than done some sort of effort is required.   In most cases, effective crisis anticipation, avoidance, and mitigation will all require appropriate preparation and response.   Nonetheless, we all eventually face crisis, and usually more than once.  Our ability to prepare in advance greatly affects our ability to respond appropriately.  Even simple, inexpensive steps, thoughtfully taken in advance, can make a huge difference in likely outcomes.   

[enough said, for now...]

The Importance of Preparation, Including Understanding Who or What is Vulnerable and at Risk

Preparation is paramount to avoid paralyzing panic and fear.    

When crisis occurs or is imminent, someone or something (or some future outcome) is at risk of being damaged, destroyed, or taken from us.  Crisis anticipation, avoidance, and mitigation are often about protecting (or minimizing risk to) someone or something we care about.   In risk terminology, that someone or something is an asset.   Thus, assets are whomever and whatever we want to protect.   These assets may be very general or quite specific, since we cannot protect everyone and everything all the time, it is important to zero in on the assets needing extra focus and attention.

While it may seem like protecting assets is a matter of arbitrarily or selfishly picking and choosing whomever or whatever is most important to us ("key" assets) , that's really not how it works (fortunately!).   Identifying and/or prioritizing assets is important to some degree (e.g., people are more important than things), but there's a lot more to it.   

[enough said, for now...]

Reducing Vulnerabilities of People and Infrastructure

Preparation is required both for people (e.g., knowledge, situational awareness, training, skills, etc.) and infrastructure (e.g., technology such as communications, power, shelter, water, food, transport, etc.).   

On the technology side, there should be minimal bias toward "high-tech" vs. "low-tech" the general focus should be on on having what you need when you need it, having it work reliably, and knowing how to use it.   It may be analogous to a parachute "If you need it and don't have it, it may be the last time you need it. "  Rather than go it alone, it may be much easier for any group of people to cooperate, such that collectively, they are better prepared than they would be otherwise.

[enough said, for now...]

The Importance of Mutual Aid

However a crisis is dealt with, it is almost always better to have help.  Our vision of "Helping people help each other" starts with enabling and encouraging mutual aid.  The concept of mutual aid begins with cooperation within and among individuals and families, and extends to cooperation within and among neighborhoods and communities.  Communities may be physical (e.g., within a geographical area like a neighborhood or county) or logical (e.g., people who work or play together, or frequent or belong to the same church, school, recreational facility, etc.).   

[enough said, for now...]

CrisisForce  Emergency Network (CFEN)

CFEN is one of our first major program areas.  CFEN is oriented around mutual aid at every level and scale, but the technologies involved tend to focus around meeting needs of families and communities.   These needs may range widely and occur in any combination.  Common physiological needs include (but are not limited to) having access to clean air, clean water, nutritious food, and safe shelter.  People also need to have timely access to accurate (correct) information, and the ability to safely communicate, coordinate, and collaborate with others (not only for mutual aid, but also for public safety).  The ability to request and obtain help, support, and information is important, but so is the ability to report situational status, coordinate skills and resources, volunteer, etc.

Our notion of "families" includes both those you're related to and those you choose.   It is important that families are prepared to be self-reliant and resilient in the face of crisis, because help from others may not be forthcoming any time soon, or at all.  Importantly, families who are prepared are generally in a much better position to offer a helpful response to the needs of others.  The more that families are prepared, the more likely it is that mutual aid between families will enable crisis avoidance and/or mitigation.  Note that, in our view, it is important for a "prepared" family to be willing and able to offer aid to an "unprepared" family (it's just the right thing to do).

Our notion of communities includes any group of people who have something in common, such as a shared government, general or specific geographic location, culture, activity, characteristic, or heritage, or who choose to associate for some reason.   Examples of smaller-scale communities could be people in the same neighborhood, church, school, association, club, or bowling league.  Larger-scale communities might easily include people in a specific city, county, state, or geographic region (sub-national or international).  Just as with families, it is likewise important that communities are prepared to be self-reliant and resilient in the face of crisis.  

The key differences affecting mutual aid within/among families versus within/among communities are primarily those of location, scale, communications, and information requirements.  It is much more difficult to help someone across town than across the street, and it's exponentially more difficult to help a hundred families than one family.  For that reason, the CFEN approach is to get families connected who are in close proximity (say, a street or neighborhood), then get the adjacent streets and neighborhoods connected, and then sets of adjacent neighborhoods, and so forth.  The approach is community-centric, beginning with the first house or street.

CFEN is people- and community-centric, but also technology-enabledPeople and communities are both the benefactors and the beneficiaries, but the reality is that a significant amount of technology is involved.  The technology must be both affordable and reliable, and it must be sustainable.  That's a tall order.

[enough said, for now...]

CrisisForce Infrastructure Alliance (CFIA) dba Sustainable Infrastructure Alliance (SIA.coop)

CFIA (a.k.a. "SIA.coop" or simply the "Infrastructure Alliance" or "co-op")  is another of our initial major program areas.   Two of the central notions SIA.coop shares with CrisisForce  is that "Many hands make light work" and "a rising tide raises all boats."  Membership is for those who wish to collaborate, cooperate, and commit resources toward common goals (which are jointly decided).  Co-op membership implies ownership of a stake in the cooperative's assets, resources, and surplus income, and ensures members of the lowest practical members-only pricing.  For members with resources to be monetized, membership provides a marketplace and easily addressable target market.

Prior to the legal formation of the alliance (SIA.coop) as a legal entity, CFIA (as part of a not-for-profit organization) will temporarily "do business as" (dba) SIA.coop.  Once formed as a legal entity, SIA.coop will be a multi-stakeholder cooperative or MSC (technically, this means there will be multiple classes of stakeholders, from individuals to national governments, and everything between).  Co-op membership may comprise any number of individuals, communities, companies, and governments who collaborate and cooperate to deploy and operate sustainable critical infrastructure and/or services at the lowest practical cost.   CrisisForce , via CFIA, will be among the original founding members of SIA.coop, and will commit significant intellectual property (infrastructure technology, patents, etc.) to the co-op.  

Our shared notion of sustainability includes not only environmental sustainability, but also high availability, survivability, resilience, diversity, redundancy, efficiency, and numerous other "need-to-haves."

To reiterate, our notion of "sustainability" subsumes the notion of environmental sustainability that is ever-present in the current media (e.g., improve the environment to the extent possible, but never make it worse), and importantly, also subsumes the notion of "survivability."    

It's not particularly helpful if infrastructure is environmentally sustainable, but fails when you need it most. 

 "Sustainable Infrastructure Systems" refers to creating, deploying, operating, and ensuring the ongoing availability of the means to provide for physiological needs, such as air, water, food, shelter, sleep, etc., while also enabling communications, connections, collaboration, and cooperation that are critical to meeting psychological needs (community, teamwork, belonging, safety, certainty, etc.  (See "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs" and "Social Networks:  What Maslow Misses" for an introduction and rebuttal, respectively).  

Our need for ongoing availability means that, for example, we must emphasize not only providing "emergency water," but also ensuring the means of providing clean water ongoingly (i.e., the survivability of the necessary infrastructure systems), while also ensuring environmental sustainability.   In other words, there must be a dual focus1) providing temporary or ongoing access to clean, life-giving water that would survive a crisis, and 2) providing that water while improving the environment (and certainly without damaging it).   

However, access to clean water, for example, might be only very temporary, rather than being sustainable for as long as it is needed.  There's a big difference between having enough drinking water for a day or two, or perhaps a week, versus having a continuous supply that may be modest, but reliably ongoing.  Both short-term and long-term physiological needs must be addressed, and not just for water, but also for air, food, shelter, energy, communications, etc.

"Survivability" has been subsumed into  our notion of "sustainability."   Our new technology concepts are good for the planet (environmentally sustainable), and paradoxically, may also cost significantly less not only in first costs, but also in total cost of ownership (TCO).    For example a hyperscale datacenter may enjoy a billion dollar savings in 10-year TCO.

We now have new technologies that provide leading-edge advances in environmental sustainability.  As co-founders of SIA.coop, CrisisForce  will be making these technologies available to the multi-stakeholder cooperative, with the goal of enabling an open-access, planet-scale "barn-raising "of sustainable infrastructure.   

We will be looking for others to join us in this planet-scale sustainable infrastructurebarn-raising,” as owner-members of SIA.coop.    Our cooperative alliance will have sufficient scope to design, manufacture, construct, acquire, own, operate, facilitate, and/or enable networks of sustainable, standardized, reconfigurable, interconnected, and interoperable infrastructure facilities, vehicles, payloads, transportation systems, marketplace/exchange/trading platforms, and ecosystems, with the lowest practical TCO, for the benefit of its members and the planet at large.

[enough said, for now...]

Contact Information

If you would like to help out, or learn more, please reach out to one of our founders via email:

Dave Duchesneau (pronounced doo-SHAY-no)
Email:   ddd@crisis-force.org