How the Readiness for Resilience Program Helps Communities Build Disaster Resilience with Steve Crout
“We can’t meet this challenge as individual organizations. We need to band together and create a voice.” -Steve Crout
Every community is different, and every community’s needs are different. But one thing that all communities have in common is the need to build disaster resilience—and that’s where CANVAS for Recovery and Resiliency comes in.
Co-founded by our host, Jennifer Thompson and CityTech Strategy Group’s President, Steve Crout, CANVAS’ main mission is to help communities prepare for disasters through cross-sector collaborations. They work with local leaders, community members, and organizations that are experienced in the disaster recovery and mitigation space to help advocate for local communities affected by disasters. Together, they aim to “listen locally, act regionally, and reform nationally”.
Listen in as Jennifer and Steve discuss the inspiration behind this initiative, what resiliency means, where the focus should be when it comes to building community resilience, how we can keep the continuity in disaster preparedness, how we can better address compound disasters, what makes fundings hard to access, and how leveraging the 5G network can help improve communication during a disaster.
- 02:15 Could We Do More?
- 11:55 Keep the Continuity in Disaster Preparedness
- 16:39 Barriers to Accessing Fund
- 20:53 CANVAS for Disaster Recovery and Resiliency
- 26:23 Equity in Disaster
- 28:49 Addressing Compound Disasters
- 33:19 Improving Communication During Disaster
Could we do more? That is the question that inspired the creation of CANVAS for Recovery and Resiliency co-founded by @JenGrayThompson and Steve Crout. Join this week’s podcast and learn how this power duo is helping communities build resiliency. #Recover #Rebuild #Reimagine #NorthBay #podcast #wildfire #DisasterRecovery #AfterTheFire #Season4 #HowToDisaster #CANVAS #Resiliency #disasterpreparedness #localcommunities #compounddisasters #equity #5G #communication
03:35 “The key entities when you’re dealing with resilience is you’ve got to have energy and you’ve got to have communication. And then, of course, you’ve got to have people that can work with local governments.” -Steve Crout
15:51 “If you’re going to design a community’s recovery or resiliency, you have to choose the frontline nonprofits because they know their community.” -Jennifer Thompson
21:01 “We can’t meet this challenge as individual organizations. We need to band together and create a voice.” -Steve Crout
23:41 “People are remarkably resilient given the right tools.” -Jennifer Thompson
26:07 “Without sustainable funding that can carry you through trouble point, these smaller efforts just aren’t going to survive.” -Steve Crout
34:14 “Communication is a huge cornerstone of how resilient we are.” –Jennifer Thompson
34:44 “Bring it down to the personal level because resilience and dealing with natural disasters or even everyday weather is at a very personal level.” -Steve Crout
Steve Crout, Founder and President of CityTech Strategy Group, leads all client development and service activities utilizing 30 years of experience working in high-level positions in government, industry, and non-profit organizations. Steve is a recognized leader in the Smart Cities/IoT space and regularly speaks at key stakeholder forums.
Steve is also the Co-founder and Project Manager rof CANVAS for Disaster Recovery and Resilience along with Jennifer Gray Thompson. CANVAS is an organization that focuses on helping communities better prepare, respond, and recover from natural disasters through cross-sector collaborations.
Connect with CANVAS for Disaster Recovery and Resiliency:
Connect with City Tech Strategy Group:
- Website: https://citytechstrategy.com/
Jennifer Gray Thompson: We’re back for another episode of the How to Disaster Podcast where we help you recover, rebuild and reimagine. Today, our guest is Steve Crout, and he is the Co-Founder with me of Canvas for Disaster Recovery. Canvas aims to help communities better prepare, respond and recover from disaster through cross sector collaboration. I’m so happy to bring Steve on today to talk about a variety of topics related to increasing preparedness in communities, how to do it, how to wrap our heads around this word resilience we hear all the time. It is something that is near and dear to my heart. Something that we talk about a lot on this program on the show and this podcast is why it exists. And the novel ideas that come out of organizations like Canvas truly make a positive impact on the community. This is why we’re so happy to bring Steve on the show today so he can lend his experience working with smart cities, Canvas, and the readiness for resilience programs and more. You can find out more about Steve in the description below. Thank you for joining us today.
So once again, welcome Steve Crout. I’m so excited to have you on the podcast.
Steve Crout: Thank you. Glad to be here. Thank you, Jen.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: I just wanted to tell the audience, the way that I became aware of you is we were both attending and you were presenting, I was just attending a conference put on by Tesla about three or two and a half years ago, I’m looking at innovations and disasters. And then at that time, you were at smart cities, you were presenting on their behalf, and I actually chased you down in the hallway, gave you a card and said that I would like to know you. And so I’m here, we are two and a half, three years later and we are not only on this podcast, but we have an effort that we co-founded Canvas for Disaster. Can you talk to us about your background in disaster and then leading up to this association that we have co-founded together, Canvas?
“The key entities when you’re dealing with resilience is you’ve got to have energy and you’ve got to have communication. And then, of course, you’ve got to have people that can work with local governments.” -Steve Crout
Steve Crout: Well, thank you. It really does go to show how just conferences really can bring people together. It was great that you and I met at that FEMA conference at Tesla, and then made sure that we connected and really have done a lot of great work together since. I guess my story of resilience is like a lot of people. I really came with no background in it. I have spent my entire career in Washington. I’ve worked on Capitol Hill. I’ve worked in the executive branch. I’ve gone out, and then a lobbyist for the natural gas industry, and then for the telecommunications industry, Motorola and Qualcomm. The storms of 2017, of course, caught the attention of a lot of people and I was with Qualcomm at the time. They gave charitable donations, like a lot of major corporations, to the states and communities that were impacted. But they also asked the question at that time, could we do more? And I was sort of leading their Smart Cities policy effort in DC and so they asked me if I could put together some type of a program. And so I reached out with some of the stakeholders that I had worked with historically.
And for me, the key entities when you’re dealing with resilience have to have energy and you’ve got to have communication. And then of course, you’ve got to have people that can work with local governments. So we reached out to some of the organizations that I knew, number one is Smart Cities, council that has a long history of working with cities and communities on how to use digital technology to become smarter and more efficient on the energy side of long work with the Business Council for sustainable energy, clean energy industry organization, and they were happy to join. And then we wanted to get somebody that’s done a lot of state planning, and that was the National Association of State Energy Officials, NatGeo and Qualcomm being, of course, the telecommunications stakeholder in that. So that was sort of the group I put together and we crafted a program called Readiness for Resilience. And that got us started. We started working in Texas and Puerto Rico, and really was a grassroots effort.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: I love that. Actually, one of the things that I really wanted you to talk about today is the meaning of the word resilience and how that impacts disasters both before and during. Well, before, during and after. Resilience is one of those words like sustainability that is thrown around a lot, but how to do resilience, what that actually means? Can you expound upon that and how that’s been sort of a centerpiece or cornerstone to your work?
Steve Crout: Yeah. I would first say that resilience is really, perhaps the issue of this generation. Climate change has impacted us in so many ways. These storms are only increasing in number and increasing intensity so it’s important that we prepare as a nation, we prepare as states, we prepare us as local governments for these storms. The term resilience is rather open ended, and you’ll hear a lot of different definitions. I guess one thing that you and I really focus on is resilience at the local level. So that of getting into the unwieldy, oh, well, resilience means this or that. I like to focus where the focus should be. And that is the local community, those communities that have been impacted by these storms, and just as you said, that really comes with preparation. You need to be preparing for these storms. We know they’re going to be coming again. You need to be ready when the storms hit, and then you need to have the capacity to deal with the aftermath of these storms.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: So what does it mean, though? The podcast, obviously, it’s called How to Disaster. So what would you say about how you prepare for it? We deal with wildfires, not storms, but the podcast is for anybody in any kind of disaster wanting to deal with it. Most of your base knowledge is, of course, in storms. But what does it mean for your average individual listening to this podcast to prepare for a storm? Do you have something that they could take away, or something that they should be able to count on, or anything like that for more better–
Steve Crout: I’ll relate that to the program. I mentioned the readiness for resilience program. That really was a process where we went to Texas and literally did a roadshow meeting with the impacted communities of Harris County, Orange County and Court Aransas. We had partnered with Texas A&M who was so critical in our effort, because they have employees and all these communities that could really bring the leadership together. And then of course, we were partnering with the Governor’s Commission to rebuild Texas as well. But this was a process of convening the local stakeholders, then bringing in the expertise from the tech and energy industries and listening to what their needs are, they’re rebuilding. 18 months after the storm and we’re really focusing on rebuilding communities. And based on those discussions, we then involve ourselves in a roadmapping process. And that roadmapping process included ideas and best practices to prepare for the next storm. Also, thoughts on how we could deal with some of the issues during a storm. And then of course, rebuilding. The same effort was done in Puerto Rico. We had some really interesting ideas. I’ll delve into it a little bit later. For my purposes, it’s really that roadmapping process in terms of preparing communities for disaster.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: I think it’s actually really tough for communities to hear after, if they’ve just recently undergone a disaster for them to have to hear, well, yes, this is true. But also, you need to build up your resiliency for your next disaster. We were just in Colorado last month for the Marshal fire, and they’d never had a fire like this before. And one of our messages always has to be like, we’re really sorry that this happened. But you also need to sort of expect it to happen again. And then last week, they had another fire just erupt. And even though it wasn’t as destructive as the 1200 homes that were lost in the first one in the Marshal fire, it was really sort of scarring to them to have to revisit the traumatization. I think that that’s something that wind and rain communities have been more aware of. Do you think that that’s true? Or that magical thinking of, oh, something bad happened to me, something bad isn’t going to then happen to me again so soon. I think it’s one of the hardships of going through this current era of disasters.
Steve Crout: Yeah, that’s really interesting. We’ve always, obviously, had hurricane seasons. And we can expect that there’ll be some storms that reach land, there’s always been wildfires, but it seems that the wildfires now are enrolling more and more in communities. And so when you’re talking about your efforts in Colorado and so forth, these are communities that haven’t had to deal with that previously. So I think the problem is increasing beyond just the tropical storms now and you’ve got the wildfires. And let’s not forget, Puerto Rico is such an example of resilience. I mean, not only did they have Hurricane Maria. But as they were coming out of that, they literally had hundreds upon hundreds of earthquakes. Then just recovering from that, they get hit by the pandemic, like we all did. But this has been hit by so many tragedies, resilience really is part of the nature of the American people of Puerto Rico.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: I’m so glad that you said that. We don’t have to get too deeply into this now, but there’s a whole political aspect to serving Puerto Rico appropriately during that time and making sure that they have what they need, which is a huge struggle. And we both have had George Laws Garcia on the podcast talking about the need for statehood. I just want to throw that out there that not only has Puerto Rico been sort of a proving ground for how to really help a highly vulnerable community, but how that community is actually incredibly resilient. At the same time, they also had about over, like 52% of their housing was what’s called ad hoc, and it was not built under permitted, there weren’t permits, there wasn’t paperwork on it. In our case, when we work in these wildfire communities, when they’re super rural or frontier communities and they’re also ad hoc, not permitted some of that housing, we’ve actually said, hey, let’s look at Puerto Rico and figure out how FEMA interfaced with them.. Because that actually sets a precedent that is helpful for the rest of the America who lives also in ad hoc. Not necessarily permitted housing, but naturally occurring housing. And so it’s very interesting how we have to learn from each other. So take us to what do you think the biggest lesson is that you’ve learned since 2017, since hurricane Maria, of course, when we had our big fires too. What are some of your observations around this space of resiliency? Do you see more people leaning into it? Or do you see a continuation of the idea that we’re going to have a movie of the week incident and then move on, and that’s just not how it seems to be playing out.
Steve Crout: Really good question. I am an optimist. I do feel that more and more people are leaning into this. I think there is now an overwhelming belief in climate change and the resulting impacts, and that this is causing environmental disasters on a regular basis. I do think that most people are aware of this, and are aware that they need to be prepared not only in their own households, but community wide. The resilience of the people that have been impacted by these storms, this better than anybody. You were involved in a situation where communities are simply just burned to ashes. I mean, unimaginable. How people continue on with their daily lives with a hope of rebuilding is just a staggering story. We see this, and that’s one of the great pleasures of doing this type of work. And then finally, I would say that we’re still lacking this continuity of preparedness. You and I talked a couple years after we met at the FEMA conference and shared our challenge, really, of how we’re running these local organizations, but we’re constantly out there trying to scratch for dollars to keep our efforts going. And you’ve been able to do a fabulous job. I’ve had some maybe more difficult times at it. But it has affected our continuity and our ability to continue helping people at the very grassroots level. And so there’s been a lot more attention at the federal level to provide more funding, that is of great importance, and the people there, FEMA, and HUD, and EDA are very committed and just absolute professionals. But there’s still a great need to get this funding down to the local communities and really out to these nonprofit organizations that will help communities year in and year out to be prepared.
“If you’re going to design a community’s recovery or resiliency, you have to choose the frontline nonprofits because they know their community.” -Jennifer Thompson
Jennifer Gray Thompson: I’m so glad that you brought that up. Because one of the issues that we are all facing is that we look at it and we’re like, yes, we have a whole program called Before the Fire and we are using federal and state dollars to do fuel mitigation work and wild lands, because we can actually stop burning down at this rate. We’re going to have these mega fires. Colorado can be very experienced in fire, but not very experienced in mega fires. And that’s really what just happened to them in the Marshal fire on December 30 of 2021. We can fully expect that they’re going to have more of these mega fire incidents. Because in Sonoma County where I’ve lived, we’ve had three mega fires since, and not including the 2017 North Bay fires. So really, what we used to do is just stand up things in response to and in reaction to disasters that happened. But now, we actually need, as part of our resilience, some continuity of services, some continuity of these non profit organizations. We’ve obviously expanded to serve the American West. And really, we’re just going to follow the magnifiers where they go. So right now, we’re most active in Oregon, Colorado and California. But we expect other states to. I’m not going to name them to have the exact same thing happen.
One of the barriers though, of course, is they have turned on all the spigots from the top. But actually accessing those funds is something that is so daunting. The process is so difficult that we’re hoping that it gets better. We think that it will. We’ve heard from FEMA directly that they’re interested and they’re working on a beta form of the TurboTax idea that we’ve been advocating for for four years. And we’re not the only ones, and so it’s not like we created that change. But certainly, we had a voice in creating that change. But it’s just really difficult to fund these local organizations. If you’re going to design a community’s recovery or resiliency, you actually have to choose the frontline nonprofits because they know their community. If I walk into a community, my job is to help the leaders there, figure it out. I am not going to put my kids on their soccer fields in a decade though, they are. And so I’m hoping that at some point, we actually act as a bridge or like a translator for these small local nonprofits. I’m so glad that you brought that up in particular. I appreciate that a lot. I cannot be overemphasized. Can you talk about some of the barriers to access of the funds? It seemed to be coming down from the top, but we’re not sure that they’re actually reaching the frontline communities.
Steve Crout: It is a difficult process. If you’re not involved in government, number one, you don’t necessarily understand the procurement process. I don’t want to be one of those naysayers about, well, the government just overburdened us and doesn’t help people. They really intend to do a great job. And for the most part, they do, but there are difficulties in educating people how to apply for these funds. There are questions about who’s eligible and who’s not. And even though there has been a new influx of funds, arguably the most funds, at least generation available, it’s not necessarily enough. What we found was, for example, the Brick Program with FEMA that was geared towards, yeah, let’s get some funds back to the local communities for these remediation efforts. We found, and this isn’t the tell, tell, tell all story. But we found that states already had a lineup of projects that probably hadn’t been funded previously that they were just putting up there in front. And so there was little room for small community based organizations to propose fresh new ideas and get a piece of that funding. Now, hopefully, as these funds keep coming, it will channel down to those levels. And that’s the ultimate goal. So that’s certainly, I think, the biggest challenge is getting those funds down to the local level.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: I think it’s also really hard for the government and for traditional philanthropy to figure out how to direct their funds when what they want is a track record. They want to say, okay, well, this worked before so this is what we should do again, but we’re sort of in an era of unknowns. We’re in an era of, we know it’s going to be difficult, we know that we actually essentially have to go to war, for lack of a better term, to deal with the reality of climate change, the reality of climate disasters, the reality of climate refugees and everything that comes with that. But because we haven’t been through it before, it’s a very hard thing for people to, and the government is made of people, but the government and traditional nonprofits to actually figure out how to find, and what we’ve found is that they tend to do this because they’re looking for a track record, and they’re looking for proof, and they want data inputs. I want them to talk about outcomes instead. What are you looking for, to say that you’re gonna give us like a million dollars. Tell me as a government or philanthropy, what are you actually looking for us to do? Because here’s what we think that we should do, and this is what our experience tells us, but there is no track record of this happening before. And so your traditional ways of doing it forced nonprofits to chase a mission that is outdated as opposed to, because they’re chasing the funding and they are not chasing the mission of what will come and all the indicators of what we see. Does that make sense? I have to stop for just a moment, we’re gonna stop for just a quick little commercial break and we’ll be right back with Steven Crout.
And we are back with Steve Crout. Steve Crout is an expert in the space of resiliency. He has a long history working in government and with associations. He’s also the Co-Founder of Canvas, and Canvas is an association of folks from many different sectors who have all had the desire to listen locally, act regionally and reform nationally. And so can you talk to us about Canvas and what your motivation was? The conversation about what exactly is the point of having Canvas?
“We can’t meet this challenge as individual organizations. We need to band together and create a voice.” -Steve Crout
Steve Crout: That really does go back through our initial conversation when we were scraping for funding to continue our efforts. We realized, well, we can’t really meet this challenge as individual organizations, we really probably need to band together and create a voice. And so we’re so happy to co-found Canvass with you, Jen. Your organization has done so many great things. And then we were able to get over a dozen incredible experts in the area of resilience, and in the area of housing, energy, telecom, buildings and so forth that really bring expertise to the organization. But the overriding mission is to bring the focus to the local level because that’s forcing you, and I believe that’s where the work needs to be done. We need to be working with the people that are directly impacted by these storms. We kicked it off by sending a letter to the President requesting additional funds be allocated specifically for these types of organizations dealing with the local communities. We were very pleased when shortly thereafter, additional Brick funds were approved by the President. Can’t take full credit for that, but we’ll take some credit. And then we’ve contributed to various FEMA notice proposals, notice funding opportunities on how local communities can better react to these storms with partnerships, really public/private partnerships with a government industry, and then a local nonprofit organization. So we feel that we’ve done a fair amount to bring visibility to the issue of the need for local organizations at the resilience level. Like you said, listen locally, act regionally and reformed nationally is our mission.
“People are remarkably resilient given the right tools.” -Jennifer Thompson
Jennifer Gray Thompson: By saying that, we want to be thought partners with the large agencies and the local nonprofits at the same time that’s why there’s the list locally. It’s not that we think we have all of the answers, but we think that it’s going to be increasingly difficult to attend to this huge number of natural disasters and compound disasters, which is something that you related to earlier. I had a guest on Renae Hanvin from Australia who has a similar organization called Corporate to Community. She was talking about how in the last two years, especially with COVID, we’re really looking at the era of compound disasters. We were experiencing one disaster while also undergoing another disaster. The ability to be flexible, and a lot of that will come from listening locally, listening to how people utilize or deploying their relationships and service to their community because people are remarkably resilient, given the right tools, given the funding, given the ability to actually staff up for capacity. Because one of the things that you and I have talked about is so much of the world of nonprofits really comes down to asking the most talented people to solve the biggest problems for the least amount of money and compensation. That in and of itself is not a resilient structure. It’s not sustainable. It’s not going to keep and retain the best talent over the lifespan of their career unless they’re able to do that because somebody else in their background is actually underwriting the cost of supporting that nonprofit. So do you have any thoughts on that?
“Without sustainable funding that can carry you through trouble point, these smaller efforts just aren’t going to survive.” -Steve Crout
Steve Crout: Well, I do. I don’t want to sound self-serving here, but I’ll share my personal story. I sort of witnessed this while working with Canvas. When we started the readiness for resilience program, we had the generous funding from the Qualcomm Foundation and that was enough to sustain us through a road mapping process in Texas and Puerto Rico. We gave the communities a host of options, 32 project recommendations and best practices on which to rebuild. And we had big plans going forward. We were hopeful that we could work with some of the major agencies, FEMA, HUD, and potentially get some federal grant funding to turn this 18 month project into maybe a 10 year project to continue to help Texas and Puerto Rico and potentially expand to other states. Just as we were preparing those plans and beginning the advocacy part, of course, we all got hit by the pandemic. So the focus shifted entirely, and understandably. I’m not going to argue that we should have continued our little project here, the focus had to be on COVID. However, it is a point of sustainability because communities then focused on the pandemic, and then there were no further resources for the readiness for resilience program. So we have had trouble since that time regaining that focus to continue this effort. And so I think that gets to your point that without sustainable funding, that can carry you through trouble point. These smaller efforts just aren’t going to survive, and these smaller efforts are the ones that are arguably most connected with the local communities that need the help.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: I think that’s a great answer. It brings me to the term that is often used, which is equity. I argue that equity and disaster is something that needs to be attended to. But equity and disaster can have many different faces, and many different definitions. And sometimes, often what that is that you have these smaller communities who do not have the capacity, or there’s tons of talent in these small communities, but there’s just scarcity of actual bodies in smaller communities or communities that have a high amount of social issues. And so what you’re looking for is, do I have enough bodies who actually have the relationships in these communities to shore up resiliency, serve communities exactly as they should be served. And one of the things that we have an opportunity to do with federal funding and traditional philanthropy is to say, what can we do to actually support capacity at a local level by funding capacity, and in a way that doesn’t make them spend all of their time filling out forms? We have a federal grant, state grants before the fire program, and that takes like all the brainpower of the amazing Molly Curley who has an MPP and an MBA.
There’s actually a huge cost to doing that work. And if we didn’t have somebody with that amount of talent, we wouldn’t be able to do it. And that’s an (inaudible) equity issue is that how can we actually support these communities that are also subject to compound disasters? Because as you said, as soon as COVID hit, everything went to COVID, which should not be a problem. But then we started also experiencing compound disasters, storms, tornadoes, and also off-season like, why did we have a tornado last week in Louisiana? And there were two tornadoes going through New Orleans.
Steve Crout: Forget the ice storms in Texas. Who can predict that? So it is compounding.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: So tell us, what would you like to see over the next five years in an ideal world in the space of disaster? If someone’s listening to this who’s a government official or a lawmaker, what would you like to see over the next five years, ideally, to deal with these compound disasters?
Steve Crout: Yeah. There are compound disasters, so there needs to be this overarching effort to combat climate change, no doubt. And it’s good to see that we’re back, engaged at the international level and fully committed on a federal level here with clean energy programs and so forth. Then you get to the issue of the local communities as well, and there are no question issues of equity. There are bigger cities, towns that have the capacity to deal with the bureaucratic process of applying for federal funds. There are smaller communities that just don’t have that capacity. One of the things we did with the readiness for resilience program is we made a serious effort to, I’ll just point to Texas. We met in Harris County, which is very populous. Well to do right, it has the resources. We also made sure we met with the Orange County rural community, a much smaller population that was not as familiar with the whole process and really needed our help. And that Porter Ranch is a sort of a midsize. We are certain to sort of scope out all sizes of the communities there. I’ll give a shout out to our friends, Kelly Thompson of Viequeslove in the island of Vieques in the mainland Puerto Rico. Not a huge population there. And what Kelly did with her colleagues was tremendous. Well, some of the larger communities may have had more focus. She was able to fly in satellite service and deal with GPS tracking to get, actually a lot of these homes don’t actually have read addresses that are identifiable. So they couldn’t have problems getting the resources to some of these people. So they helped solve that problem. So that’s another example of a small community that needs a little extra help. But once they got rolling, they’ve done tremendous things. So big issue there that you’ve nailed.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: I love Viequeslove. And for those of you who haven’t looked at all of our podcasts, please do go and find the one with Kelly Thompson and Mark Martin Bras, because just her discussion alone about building resilience hubs, they’ve got three on Vieques now that make sure that they have portable Wi Fi and certain things that they will need. Satellite phones, but also multiple redundant methods of communication. It’s really a very impressive effort. And it’s not like she was on the front lines, but she actually had the talent, the relationships, and she chose Mark Martin Bras who she worked with, who she knows, and to be the point person because he already had pre existing trust in the community. He was highly successful, and he was more successful then if somebody else came in who is a leader in this space, but doesn’t have those relationships, there’s just no substitute for that locally led effort and design.
Steve Crout: That’s right. And if I can make a point there too, there’s lots of different things that can be done in the resilience space. While I’m not that active with the readiness for resilience program right now, full transparency, I am an independent consultant. I’m now doing a lot of work for the wireless industry to promote the workforce development and training for the deployment of the 5g network. And so this is actually working with governments, industry and academia to train people how to meet the challenge of deploying 5g which will serve as a tremendous combatant or help to overall resilience. We’re doing a lot of work there. Puerto Rico was out there recently, met with Kelly and her team on Vieques. And so that space workforce development can really enhance resiliency that may not be the first focus, first thing people look at.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: Well, actually, I think a lot about communications and resiliency, and maybe you can let us know how will 5g make a difference? Because for those of you who are not aware, in our case with mega fires, they often take out all the cell towers, and that’s a huge frustration because it’s not only much more dangerous for the people who are trying to flee, but it’s very dangerous for firefighters as well. So can you tell us a little bit how 5g might make a difference in that space?
Steve Crout: Yeah, well, it’s low latency. It has the capacity to undertake huge amounts of data to get to people in emergency situations very quickly. It has redundant systems. There will be instances when it goes down, but more easily brought to the restoration. Obviously, when your whole town is under siege, there will be temporary shutdowns at the very least, but you can drop in cell towers and so forth. There are cellular on wheels and things of that nature that are really helpful in a disaster response. So we have power companies that are working with renewable energy to become more resilient as well. So there’s a lot of interesting things that are going on in the telecommunication space that enhance the overall resiliency of the infrastructure.
“Communication is a huge cornerstone of how resilient we are.” –Jennifer Thompson
Jennifer Gray Thompson: Well, communication is a huge, it’s a cornerstone of how resilient we are and having those that’s like what vacated those sort of redundant systems, the ability to use cows to bring in portable Wi Fi to help people actually navigate during a disaster has to be a cornerstone of our resiliency moving forward. So I’m glad to hear that you’re working in that space. Is there anything that you wish I would have asked you today that I have not asked you?
“Bring it down to the personal level because resilience and dealing with natural disasters or even everyday weather is at a very personal level.” -Steve Crout
Steve Crout: One thing might have been to bring it down to the personal level because we’re all living in our own environments. And really, resilience and dealing with natural disasters or even everyday weather is at a very personal level, and so that’s what motivates me. Because I do have two daughters, and I want to make sure that they are living in a sustainable environment as they grow to be adults and carry this world forward. So I think about almost everything, all issues I take back and let’s take a look at it from a personal level, and that’s very motivating.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: I really appreciate that. I’m glad that you brought that up because it’s How to Disaster, but it’s also that I always want people to think about, how we, or what our motivations are for working in this space. And for a lot of people, when they hear that you work in a disaster, they’re like, oh, man, there’s no way, I just couldn’t do that. I’m not sure how you do that. And my response is always, somebody’s gotta do it, though. There’s lots of really smart, dynamic, innovative people in this space. I feel like I’m in great company all the time. And there’s always someone every time you turn around to learn from. But I think for many of us as parents and as community members, we want to see this get better. So I love that you brought up your daughters, and I love that they are your motivation. So thank you for sharing that with us.
Steve Crout: Thank you, and such a terrific podcast you run. The overall effort of After the Fire, so grateful to have you leading that and be a partner of Canvas, and just looking forward to continuing the good work.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: I’m looking forward to having another conversation in a few years to really look how far we’ve come and look at all of these amazing people that we know that our colleagues, and our friends have actually been able to affect change. Because the bummer about where we are right now is that it’s kind of terrifying. But the good side of it is that it sort of forces changes that need to happen. It really reveals a lot of character and allows for really innovative ideas that disrupt the market. I see that in you and I appreciate it.
Steve Crout: Well, I couldn’t agree more. And just look forward to continuing this work with you. Thank you.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: Well, thank you so much for being on the How to Disaster Podcast. My guest today was Steve Crout. And if you want more information about him or you want to get in touch with him, we’ll have that down in the information about this podcast. And once again, thank you, Steve.
Steve Crout: Okay, have a great day.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: Bye.