Agencies Are at Risk of Security, Natural Disaster Threats

Maurice Singleton is the president of Vidsys, where he leads business initiatives for the development of innovative product enhancements, customer experience improvement, business growth and expansion into emerging markets. Vidsys provides physical and converged security information management (PSIM and CSIM) solutions whose security software platform enables organizations in a number of market verticals, including corporate, government, health care and critical infrastructure, to achieve more effective enterprise security and risk management.

Singleton responded to a series of written questions.

Nearly 800,000 in NorCal Having Power Shut Off to Avert Wildfire

(TNS) - In a historic move to avert another fiery disaster, PG&E is turning off power to as many as 800,000 customers in Northern and Central California Wednesday, prompting residents, schools, businesses and local officials to make hurried plans to cope without electricity possibly for several days.

With wind speeds expected between 40 mph and 70 mph over sunbaked land Wednesday and Thursday, the state’s largest utility opted to preemptively cut power in parts of 34 counties, including Sonoma, Marin, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties in the North Bay.

PG&E, driven into bankruptcy in January facing about $30 billion in liabilities for the 2017 wildfires, adopted temporary power shut-offs as a key part of its wildfire prevention plan. A majority of those catastrophic blazes were attributed to the company’s equipment.

Possible Power Shutoffs as Fire Threatens in Northern California

(TNS) - Critical fire weather is threatening California, as high winds, low humidity and dry conditions combine to form a sometimes lethal mix, the National Weather Service warned Monday.

A red flag warning is in effect for more than 3.8 million Northern Californians for the next three days, as wind gusts blow through the region.

In Southern California, Santa Ana winds will carry in warmer temperatures along with elevated fire dangers, forecasters said.

RIMS Canada 2019 Encourages Risk Managers to ‘Transform’

EDMONTON — The 2019 RIMS Canada Conference got its green light Monday morning when technology and disruption strategist Shawn Kanungo entered the Edmonton Convention Centre in an ELA, an electronic autonomous shuttle being piloted in Canada. “Transform” is this year’s conference theme and, as emcee, Kanungo emphasized the need for attendees to embrace risk in order to improve their organizations.

“Experimentation,” he said, “is the gateway drug to true transformation.”

Ahead of the morning’s keynote, the RIMS Canada Council announced its top honors for accomplishment in the risk management field. For the risk professional earning the highest average mark on the three examinations required to attain the Canadian Risk Management (CRM) designation, the Fred H. Bossons Award was awarded to Ronnie Yuen, underwriting assistant at Starr Technical Risks Canada, Inc.

PG&E Shut-offs Could be Catastrophic, California Officials Say

(TNS) - Northern California communities hit by some of the worst wildfires the state has ever seen are now preparing for another kind of disaster: prolonged power shut-offs caused intentionally by Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

PG&E has used its aggressive new strategy to prevent its equipment from starting another fire only on one weekend so far this year. But the utility is poised to turn off the lights much more in the coming months as hot, dry and windy weather persists during the most dangerous part of wildfire season.

The impacts may be extreme and unprecedented, cutting entire cities off from the electric grid for several days in the worst-case scenarios. In those instances, stoplights and even cell phones could stop working properly, local officials say, snarling traffic and hamstringing residents’ ability to communicate.

Oregon Lagging on Disaster Preparedness, Scientists Warn

Oregon state lawmakers abandoned a multimillion-dollar project to develop early warning systems for earthquakes and wildfires, and scientists warn that the funding shake-up could endanger public safety and put Oregon further behind other West Coast states in preparing for natural disasters.

Researchers were shocked when nearly $12 million to expand ShakeAlert and AlertWildfire – early warning systems to help detect significant earthquakes and wildfires – unexpectedly went up in smoke last month, just days before the end of the legislative session. Money for the projects was included as part of a larger funding package, but was stripped in a last-minute amendment.

ShakeAlertLA Works, but Residents Want Even More Notice

(TNS) — More than 500,000 people have downloaded Los Angeles County’s new ShakeAlertLA app to warn them of impending earthquakes.

So when the two strongest earthquakes in almost two decades hit Southern California this month, those residents were surprised by what they saw on their smartphones: nothing.

Officials were quick to explain to outraged app users that the shaking in the county wasn’t strong enough to trigger an alert.

Oregon Agency Charged with Earthquake Study and Preparation Could Be Abolished

The state agency in charge of earthquake study and preparation, as well as monitoring mining efforts in Oregon, could be shut down after going over budget for the second time in four years.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, widely known as DOGAMI, will lose three staff members and the Governor’s office is considering whether the agency should continue to exist in its current form given its financial issues.

California Hopes Emergency Projects Guard Against Wildfires

(TNS) — After battling the most destructive wildfires in California’s history over the past two years, Cal Fire is rolling out emergency fuel reduction projects to help protect the state’s most vulnerable communities.

The 35 projects span the state, from Siskiyou to San Diego counties. One crucial effort in the Sacramento area, the North Fork American River Shaded Fuel Break, is a fuel break project that covers 850 acres around the city of Colfax in Placer County.

A fuel break is an area of land where vegetation has been transformed to make fires more controllable, Cal Fire officials told reporters Thursday at the Colfax project site. Methods involve chipping and prescribed burning.

Cyber Insurers Need Loss Data to Properly Underwrite Risks

While there are “huge opportunities” on the horizon for the cyber insurance industry, cyber insurance underwriters still face the challenge of not having enough historical data to work with.

“It’s really scary to underwrite something when you just don’t know what the potential losses could be,” said Brian Meredith, managing director at UBS Group AG, during a panel discussion on trends in the property/casualty insurance sector at S&P’s 2019 Global Insurance Conference in New York. “There’s lots of opportunity here, but we need a lot more data to expand it.”

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