Data to the rescue. Desi Matel-Anderson offers an immersive deep dive into the world of the Field Innovation Team, who routinely find themselves on the frontier of disasters working closely with data to save lives, at times while risking their own. Whether the team is in the Northeast during Hurricane Sandy making decisive decisions to automate damage assessments, in Boston exploring social media for a bigger picture of the Boston Marathon Bombings, or using drones to map data points to better understand the stability of the topography after mudslides struck Oso, Washington, the data the team is working with expedites response and recovery.
Desi Matel-Anderson is the chief wrangler of the Field Innovation Team (FIT) and CEO of the Global Disaster Innovation Group, LLC. FIT has deployed teams to several disasters including the Boston Marathon bombings, assisting at the scene with social media analysis; the Moore, Oklahoma, tornadoes, leading coding solutions; Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, through the building of cellular connectivity heat maps; and the Oso, Washington, mudslides, with unmanned aerial system flights, which resulted in a 3D print of the topography for incident command. The team also deploys to humanitarian crises, which have included running a robot petting zoo at the US/Mexico border and leading a women’s empowerment recovery movement after the Nepal earthquakes. Recently, her team deployed to Lebanon for the Syrian refugee crisis, supporting artificial intelligence for access to health care, establishing the power grid, and empowering refugees through evacuation routes utilizing 360-degree virtual reality capture video.
Previously, Desi was the first chief innovation advisor at FEMA, where she led the innovation team to areas affected by Hurricane Sandy to provide real-time problem solving in disaster response and recovery and ran think tanks nationwide to cultivate innovation in communities. Desi’s emergency management experience began when she volunteered in Northern Illinois University’s Office of Emergency Planning. She then worked with the Southeast Wisconsin Urban Area Security Initiative and the City of Milwaukee Office of Emergency Management. In addition to her regional emergency management duties, she worked as a nationwide assessor of the Emergency Management Accreditation Program. Desi lectures on innovation at Harvard, Yale, UC Berkeley, and several other universities across the country and serves as consultant on innovative practices and infrastructure for agencies and governments, nationally and internationally. Desi attended the National Preparedness Leadership Institute at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and School of Public Health and served on the advisory board of Harvard’s National Preparedness Leadership Institute in 2013. She holds a JD from Northern Illinois University.
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