Less than half of Americans have info needed for disaster preparedness, says Booz Allen

31 May 2018 Consulting.us

A Booz Allen and Ipsos survey found that less than half of Americans surveyed have the information needed to be prepared for a disaster. The consulting firm recommends a multi-channel approach to communicating disaster information, as well as collaboration between government levels to create official and non-conflicting source of information.

Natural disasters are a part of life in the geographically vast United States. From earthquakes and wildfires on the western seaboard, to tornadoes in the Midwest, to hurricanes on the Gulf Coast and blizzards in the north – the US has an all-you-can eat buffet of natural disasters. Nature’s destructive might is a touchpoint in Hollywood cinema in all its variety, with films like San Andreas, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and Twister portraying mostly-CGI destruction for audience delight.

Natural disasters, however, are very real. And with the International Monetary Fund reporting that climate change will cause more frequent natural disasters, things will not get any easier. While the US can’t control the weather (yet), its government can do more to make sure that its disaster services are more prepared and capable to deal with hurricanes, floods, and wildfires – or at least in a more competent way than, say, Hurricane Katrina.Less than half of Americans have info needed for disaster preparedness, says Booz AllenBut in the great spirit of American individualism, citizens also feel responsibility to prepare for impending disaster on their own – be it natural or economic, as seen in the growing popularity of the ‘prepper’ movement. And though most Americans aren’t stockpiling water, beans, rice, and ammunition, most still want to feel prepared for the disasters to come.

According to a survey from Ipsos and Booz Allen Hamilton, the general population feels most prepared for blizzards (51%), floods (47%), and hurricanes (33%), but feels least prepared for shootings (15%).  Respondents feel more prepared about the disasters most typical to their state, with Californians feeling most prepared for earthquakes (62%) and wildfire (44%), and Floridians feeling most prepared for hurricanes (89%).

A key finding of the survey, however, is that fewer than half of respondents have obtained basic information to prepare for a disaster – like emergency response contact info, evacuation routes, and shelter locations. The survey also found that during a disaster, people are more likely to rely on traditional communications channels like websites, TV, and radio rather than social media. 76% of respondents preferred websites and online resources, with 63% picking radio, and 55% picking television. A lesser 51% said that they would rely on social media during a disaster event.

Despite some ‘innovative’ features like Facebook’s ‘safe check-in’ and live-tweeting from the center of some disaster, people still prefer the more traditional comms channels. The most important disaster prep info, according to respondents, would pertain to shelters, contacts, disaster locations, and what to pack. Survey respondents also said that they would prefer a text messaging services providing updates – though it seems paramount that the service be competently administered, as seen in the fallout from the Hawaii false missile alert earlier this year.

“While intuitive in nature, these findings illustrate what Booz Allen has learned after working with partners like the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – most Americans want to be the architects of their own recovery,” remarked Booz Allen Principal Marko Bourne. “While preferred communication tools vary given the stages of crisis and response, the communities that will achieve better recovery outcomes will be those that consider multi-channel communication tactics and collaborate early across government.”

As such, the consulting firm – which boasts a long and storied history of supporting the government and military – recommends a multi-channel approach to communicating with public in an emergency. Even though a tweet is easy, the public clearly wants SMS, TV, radio, and website alerts. Furthermore, people want official channels of info (rather than broken telephone-style hearsay), so Booz Allen recommends that different levels of government work together to maintain official and non-conflicting channels of information.

In related news, the firm announced the launch of the Booz Allen Foundation, which will focus on global health, support of veterans and their families, and STEM youth and education programs. It will also consider opportunities to assist in the recovery from declared disasters.

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Fire protection consultancy Summit Companies acquires five Michigan firms

05 November 2018 Consulting.us

Fire protection services and consulting firm Summit Companies has acquired five fire protection businesses in Michigan, having entered the state earlier this year. Summit has enacted a breakneck acquisition pace since coming under the ownership of private equity firm CI Capital last year.

Founded in 1999 and based in St. Paul, Minnesota, Summit Companies provides a full range of services related to fire safety, including inspection, monitoring, installation and repair, as well as advisory support. Its consulting capabilities include regulatory and compliance advisory across industries, as well as design and engineering support for sprinkler systems, smoke management, alarms, means of egress, and construction, among other areas. Summit services over 35,000 commercial, industrial, government, healthcare, and multi-family residential facilities annually.

The Midwest fire and life safety (FLS) specialist is majority-owned by New York-based CI Capital, which bought a majority stake from PE firm Prospect Partners in September 2017. CI purchased the company as part of a ‘buy and build’ strategy seeking to consolidate the fragmented fire and life safety sector. To that end, Summit has completed over 18 add-on acquisitions in little over a year – and now has locations in Arizona, Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan.Fire protection consultancy Summit Companies acquires five Michigan firmsSummit expanded into Michigan in July 2018 with the addition of the Michigan branch offices of Indiana-based Koorsen Fire & Security in Mount Pleasant and Traverse City. The company has now added another five fire safety businesses in the Mitten State: Clark Fire & Safety (Owosso, MI); Mid-Michigan Fire & Safety Supply (Greenville, MI); VanEx Fire Systems (Luna Pier, MI); Fire Extinguisher Services (Battle Creek, MI); and Flametamer Fire Protection (Paw Paw, MI).

"The expansion throughout Michigan reflects the execution of Summit's national growth strategy and our company's focus on acquiring strong legacy businesses with successful operating histories," stated Summit CEO, Jeff Evrard.  "We are thrilled to gain the many combined years of professional experience and expertise of these businesses, and to offer their customers a broader range of fire and life safety products and services."

The strategic acquisitions expand Summit’s Michigan presence to the southern, eastern, and western regions of the state – enabling a broader service offering with wider geographical coverage to service local communities.

"Having now completed 18 add-on acquisitions under CI Capital's ownership, Jeff and the Summit management team have expanded the company's geographic coverage and strengthened its service offerings and revenue mix," said Timothy Hall, Managing Director of CI Capital Partners.

More acquisitions are likely to come for the private equity-backed company as it looks to further consolidate the fire and life safety sector. "We look forward to continuing to support Summit's growth," added Hall.