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Carolyn Usinger of ReadyConnect

We caught up with Carolyn Usinger, founder of disaster-recovery communications company ReadyConnect.

Why did you start ReadyConnect?
I have a passion for helping businesses succeed. My earliest careers were involved with foreclosures and bankruptcies. After those experiences, I wanted to devote my life to helping businesses succeed. I started by creating a series of kits to help people create their businesses easily, with the California Chamber of Commerce.

While I was doing that, my house and home office burned in the 1991 Oakland fire. It changed my whole life. I began to look at disasters through new eyes. I learned that 50% of local businesses don’t survive a disaster. Of the ones that do, another 50% are gone within 3 years. Disasters have a very long-tail effect of small businesses.

What are some of the things we don’t understand about disaster recovery?
Even well-meaning attempts to help can backfire. For example, a truckload of bottled water or a load of plywood may be donated to the community, and undermine sales that could have gone to struggling local businesses. Without accurate insights into what a community needs, efforts to help often don’t hit their intended target. ReadyConnect facilitates communication, coordination and recovery. It pulls the community together. As we say, “Don’t face a disaster alone.”

During a disaster’s immediate aftermath, consumers don’t know which businesses are open, which are closed, which may have supplies that they need. Employers may have difficulty finding out the status of employees. During power outages, cellphone batteries run low as people make multiple calls to family, friends, and employers.

I began doing research through chambers of commerce and started to create a toolkit. As I learned more about the needs of businesses following disaster, that tool morphed and grew. It became a resource to help business and people connect to each other.

Since then, the number of natural disasters and the intensity of the destruction has magnified. ReadyConnect was created to make recovery a reality, supporting local businesses and individuals with a community network. My goal is to provide toolkits to every community in the country, to enable them to start recovering on Day 1 instead of starting from scratch.

How does your product work?
Our toolkit is hosted online for business and we offer a mobile for end users. We’re beginning with Chambers of Commerce, so every member business receives an online toolkit at no charge, and their employees and families can purchase as many mobile apps as they wish. Anyone can purchase the mobile app, so we expect that our subscriber base will grow organically through these personal connections. If you’re connected, you want your friends and family to be, too.

The businesses create disaster plans and the employees who have the app can build their own family disaster plan. One of the features people appreciate most is that we keep their contact lists up to date and enable them to have fast, efficient, battery-preserving “one button” communication with all those people. But it is much more than a communication tool. Perhaps the most important element of ReadyConnect is that we help businesses themselves to the Ready-Connected Community in the aftermath of a disaster. They will be able to notify consumers of crucial supplies in stock. If they’re scrambling to re-open, they can let people know their re-opening date and sell vouchers to keep cash flowing. This is absolutely critical, because many businesses that survive that first year following a disaster will eventually succumb to poor sales. The disaster doesn’t end when the media coverage does.

How does this differ from what Facebook is doing?
Facebook offers a “safe” notification, which is a simple way to notify friends and family of your status–if you’re all Facebook subscribers. Now imagine, following a disaster, trying to remember who you have reached and then having to still communicate by phone or text with the individuals you’ve missed. Another serious issue is that Facebook and other social media sites are rife with scams and rumors, even well-meaning misinformation. ReadyConnect provides forums that are vetted by local community leaders. Users can ask questions and get reliable answers. We’re a source of trusted information. We can start disseminating information before the disaster center opens five days after the fact. We provide a platform on which to organize the recovery.

We recognize that not all disasters are big, natural disasters. A fire or broken pipe can close a business, too. So we’re offering ReadyConnect as a tool for “everyday” recovery.

What are some challenges you’ve faced?
People don’t want to think about disasters. And it’s human nature not to prepare—it’s called “denial”. So we are approaching “preparation” with tools that businesses can use every day, as well as during these epic events. For example, a tool to “broadcast” updates to your employees if you’re experiencing a sudden closure, that enables them to easily view work schedules and cover shifts.

There’s the obvious problem of government agencies being consumed with major infrastructure issues such as repairing roads or levees or putting out fires. But when it comes to recovery, we find that different agencies are “siloed.” There is not good integration of resources. Disaster centers are not enough. Without clarity about a community’s needs, agencies may not be providing the right help. We have built this company to deliver what FEMA is asking for, a “Whole Community Approach.” Unless you own your own business, you can’t understand the urgency of keeping your doors open. A weeks’ closure can be the difference between life and death for many local businesses. Folks in government don’t experience this kind of traumatic job insecurity, so their ability to relate to this situation can be limited. Meanwhile, a owner may be paying salaries to employees even when they have no sales and revenue. Many sacrifice themselves to keep their teams going, expecting that recovery will be faster.

In speaking with cities, we’ve learned that they’re willing to spend $30,000 on a reverse 911 system yet don’t understand why they should invest 10% of that cost to enable their community to recover. That has been eye-opening. Chambers “get it” because they’re part of the business community, so they’re our target market for the rollout.

Where is ReadyConnect now?
This is a very exciting time—we’re launching in five communities in California: Palo Alto, San Mateo, Half Moon Bay, Encino and Culver City. We’re working through Chambers of Commerce because they’re already connected to community businesses and they get it. Ironically, businesses receive the least amount of support after a disaster, and yet healthy businesses are key to the recovery of the entire community. ReadyConnect is filling a gap, and we’re very excited about the future.

Innovator Interview: Justin Huntington, DRI researcher and MapWater co-founder

Read our blog, 8 Daily Habits that Boost Productivity

 

INTERVIEW: Dr. Justin Huntington of MapWater

How did MapWater come into being?

justin-speaking-at-googles-earth-engine-2016-user-summit

Dr. Huntington of the (co-founder of MapWater) giving a presentation at Google’s Earth Engine 2016 User Summit.

Water and agriculture in the western U.S. are multi-billion dollar resources that are central to the regional economy and future development. An important component of water development, management, and sustainability in the western U.S. is a detailed accounting of historical and current water use from irrigated agriculture. There is a great need for accurate, defensible, and timely maps of water use that are summarized on a field-by-field basis–the spatial scale at which water rights are managed. MapWater is a new company founded by researchers at the Desert Institute that provides satellite-based field scale water use and vegetation vigor products using multiple NASA and non-NASA earth observation platforms and spatial data-sets. These products can be used by water and natural resource agencies to support day-to-day decision making, long-term water resource planning and management, hydrologic studies, and obligations for water governance and interstate agreements.

 

Why do you do what you do?

Helping to better manage and protect natural resources using new satellite and cloud computing is quite exciting and inspirational. Just a few years ago making field-scale water use and vegetation vigor maps was very labor intensive and expensive. Now days we can make maps in seconds compared to days or weeks.

What was the most exciting development for you in 2016?

The use of cloud computing to quickly make maps and data summaries that are easily assessible to end users via a web browser.

What lies ahead for 2017?

We are working with several government and NGOs to develop products that best suit their needs.

How has your experience at Adams Hub contributed to your success?

Adams Hub has provided the support and environment to accelerate research to , and development of a sustainable model.

Contact Dr. Huntington at JustinH@.edu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Zuckerberg Is Worth How Much?

You can be young and wealthy, all from a business that you built.  Our local young entrepreneurs may find a little inspiration after reading this short article and seeing who is on the list.

‘s fortune soars to almost $50bn – Telegraph

The Facebook founder took top place on Forbes magazine’s list of the 40 most successful young entrepreneurs in the US after another record year for the social networking website.

How to Watch Apple’s Big iPhone 6S Event Today

Are you ready to see what Apple is unveiling today?  We are ready here at the Hub.  Check out the link in the article below to connect using your Apple device and Windows users will not be left out.

How to Watch Apple’s Big iPhone 6S Event Today

The countdown is on. In just a few short hours, Apple will pull out all the stops and unveil the next iPhone. The big reveal kicks off live today, Sept. 9, at 1 p.m. ET, 10 a.m. PT.

On top of a first look at the next gen iPhone 6S and the iPhone 6S Plus, if rumors prove right, we might also get glimpses of a brand new , new Apple Watch straps and colors, a “monster” iPad Pro and perhaps a new iPad mini 4. Apple might also debut iOS 9. Who knows what surprises Tim Cook has in store? Will he defend Apple Music? Like everyone else, we’ll have to wait and see.

Click the link to watch the Apple event… How to Watch Apple’s Big iPhone 6S Event Today

 

StartUp: Who Is Your Competition? | Carson City Nevada News – Carson Now

 

While this strategy does not seem novel, the large majority of start-ups never complete this simple but powerful exercise. Simply talking with people, surveying potential customers, or getting feedback from customers of your competition will provide a wealth of information and value. The key is to be open and unbiased with the responses you receive — it is better to find out there isn’t a need for your product or service than to sink all your savings and time into a business that is destined to fail.

 

Curated from StartUp: Who Is Your Competition? | Carson City Nevada News – Carson Now