Panel Session: IT Volunteering in Disasters-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

Panel Session: IT Volunteering in Disasters-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

Panel Session: IT Volunteering in Disasters

Sunday May 22, 11:00 am; Bldg 3, Ballroom

Summary: Increasingly, temporary information technology (IT) support is needed during disasters, ranging from setting up WiFi in evacuee shelters, surge support for 2-1-1 websites, recovery wikis for impacted communities, or geo-mapping support. However, volunteers with IT skills need ICS training and organization into deployable teams, like ARES/RACES amateur radio volunteers. This panel will discuss a FEMA pilot program called NET Guard, a recent survey of IT needs of non-profit disaster response organizations in Santa Clara County, and ARES/RACES lessons on training and team-building. Finally, the panel will discuss volunteer management, deployment issues and coordination between NET Guard and ARES/RACES.

Presentation slides:
Peter Ohtaki (.pdf)


  • Peter Ohtaki, Executive Director, California Resiliency Alliance
    Peter Ohtaki is Executive Director of the California Resiliency Alliance (CRA), a public-private partnership to strengthen our state’s capacity to prevent, protect, respond and recover from natural disasters, pandemic flu or terrorism. Outside of the CRA, he serves on the Menlo Park City Council, and was previously elected to the Board of Directors for the Menlo Park Fire Protection District. He graduated with a B.A. in Economics from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.
  • Jim Aspinwall, Coastal Region/MAR 2 ACS Officer, Deputy State RACES Officer, California Emergency Management Agency
    Jim is responsible for the Cal EMA Coastal Region Auxiliary Communications Service, comprised of professional and amateur radio communications members supporting the region's 16 counties' public safety and RACES communications needs for disasters and special events. Serving Cal EMA for six-years, he one of the State's many unpaid professionals in this capacity, FCC licensed in commercial and amateur services for over 30 years, a former volunteer firefighter in Texas, with response experience in Hurricane Alicia, the 1989 Loma Prieta quake, Cosco Buson oil spill and the Indians Fire complex. His technical career spans medical, scientific, forensic, research, communications and information technology.
  • Rich Davies, InfraGard SF Bay Area chapter board member, Member Board of Directors, San Francisco Bay Area InfraGard chapter, Executive Director, Western Disaster Center
    Mr. Davies is the Founder and Executive Director of the Western Disaster Center. The Western Disaster Center has been established to provide for increased public safety by improving disaster and emergency management capabilities. This is accomplished through research and the application of advanced computer, information and communication technologies and the development and application of methods for public/private partnering. This process is managed and directed by the Western Disaster Center, Inc., a California, public benefit, 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.
    Mr. Davies has a broad background in defense and intelligence technologies with a 30+ year career as a senior systems engineer and business development specialist at Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman ESL, and GTE Government Systems.
    Mr. Davies is a graduate of the California Institute of Technology with a Masters degree in Aeronautics and the Northrop Institute of Technology with Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering and has attended advanced graduate classes at Stanford University.
    Mr. Davies is an elected Member of the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Bay Area InfraGard Chapter, part of the FBI’s critical infrastructure protection outreach initiative and the Silicon Valley chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA). Mr. Davies was the founding President and Member of the Board of Directors of the San Francisco FBI Citizens’ Academy Alumni Association.
  • Gregory L. Smith, Director of Disaster Services and State Disaster Coordination, American Red Cross Bay Area chapter
    Mr. Smith's affiliation with the American Red Cross began in 1992 when he served as a disaster volunteer with the American Red Cross Bay Area in San Francisco. He has since amassed an impressive record of selfless service and success in volunteer and youth recruitment, program development, training, marketing and fundraising. Throughout his career, Mr. Smith has served as a senior strategist and public advocate for the Red Cross, crafting vital public and private partnerships with universities, businesses, community and faith-based organizations and emergency management agencies.
    Prior to assuming his responsibilities as the Director of the San Francisco Bay Area Disaster Program and State Response Coordinator, Mr. Smith directed department and efforts at the American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, DC including disaster training development and delivery support and; Disaster Services external relations and partnership management. Mr. Smith initially joined the national senior staff as vice president of Volunteers, Youth and Nursing. In that role he was responsible volunteer, youth/young adult and nursing program development and enhancement and Chapter program support. He received this senior staff appointment following successful assignments as Director of Disaster Services in Columbus, Ohio where he provided leadership for the chapter and State of Ohio in disaster planning, mitigation, response and recovery, while overseeing disaster program management, community disaster education and statewide training programs and; Manager, Technical Support and Planning for the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter where he supported the chapters’ six county disaster program by managing emergency resources and participating in catastrophic disaster planning. A dynamic leader and resourceful manager, Mr. Smith has worked throughout the United States and overseas on numerous disaster relief operations, including floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, hazardous materials incidents and airline disasters.