As we watch global events unfold, we realize that there will be more climate-related disasters in the coming years. The devastating truth is that we will never be able to stop natural disasters from happening, but there is something we can do to build our homes and communities with more tolerance to disasters.  

As the world becomes more and more tech-savvy and able to innovate for more sustainable answers, we now have the capabilities to not just recover from disasters, but to help prevent them, strengthen our resilience, and rebuild better. And in this regard, a focus on securing a more sustainable source of energy, communication, and delivering information is vital. 

In this episode, we will hear critical insights from our guests MuGrid (µgrid) Analytics CEO Amy Simpkins, Founder and CEO of Perimeter Bailey Farren, and CEO of Northbay Leaders Cynthia Murray. Tune in and discover how these technologies and practical solutions can help your community improve its communication, information dissemination, and energy generation in a disaster. 

 

“Micro (µ) grid is a collection of energy generation, amps, storage, and distribution assets that sit together very close to where the energy is going to be used. That’s a different architecture from what we currently have.” –Amy Simpkins 

“There is some information out there that we can gather together or aggregate in a way that is really valuable… Knowing that there’s one place for that information is absolutely essential knowing that you can have things under control.” -Bailey Farren

“The only way we get anything done anymore is through collective will. It’s when we all decide that we have a common purpose, a common ground, and we’re going to work on this together.” -Cynthia Murray 

 

 

 

Highlights:

  • 01:32: Season 2, Ep 18— How Equity Can be Enhanced in Sustainability and Disaster Preparedness with Amy Simpkins
  • 04:16: Season 1, Ep 12— How to Help the Helpers (First Responders) with Bailey Farren
  • 09:12: Season 1, Ep 8— Communication Failures in Disaster: The Impact on the Private Sector with Cynthia Murray

 

Quotes: 

02:21: “Micro (µ) grid is a collection of energy generation, amps, storage, and distribution assets that sit together very close to where the energy is going to be used. That’s a different architecture from what we currently have.” –Amy Simpkins 

03:10: “One of the use cases for natural gas is called CHP which stands for Combined Heat and Power…. It’s actually a symbiotic relationship. because not only in the winter do they need to power their lighting. They need to heat so that the plants don’t freeze. With a CHP plant, you can recapture carbon dioxide and feed it to the plants.” –Amy Simpkins

05:46: “By bringing first responders and public safety into and in conversation with the general public, by getting them the information that they need to make decisions, we’re going to have much more effective processes when it comes to evacuation, and containment, and many other things that happen during all types of disasters.” -Bailey Farren

08:16: “There is some information out there that we can gather together or aggregate in a way that is really valuable… Knowing that there’s one place for that information is absolutely essential knowing that you can have things under control.” -Bailey Farren

09:32: “Chaos in the uncertainty is just phenomenal. None of us can predict when it will end, how it will end, and where we’re going to be when it’s over. All we can do is try and get through this and use this time to examine what we’ve been doing, what can we improve on, and how do we come back and rebuild better than we ever were before.” -Cynthia Murray 

10:31: “If we do the right things, we can solve multiple problems at the same time.” -Cynthia Murray 

10:54: “The only way we get anything done anymore is through collective will. It’s when we all decide that we have a common purpose, a common ground, and we’re going to work on this together.” -Cynthia Murray 

 

Meet Amy:

Amy Simpkins has over 15 years of experience in technical engineering and project management of complex systems and software. She is Chief Executive Officer at muGrid Analytics.

Prior to joining muGrid, Amy was an engineer and spacecraft systems architect with Lockheed Martin, where she worked on advanced R&D and design integration for earth observing and manned spacecraft. In this capacity, she assessed architectural choices based on design performance, operational power constraints, and program finance. Amy also spent several years in flight operations for unmanned scientific exploration spacecraft, where she helped monitor and manage the solar array performance, energy storage systems, and power budgets of long duration deep space missions. Her technical expertise includes system and software architecture, system-level performance modeling, and design tradespace analysis.

Amy has coached and consulted on product innovation, business strategy, marketing, and sales for startups and small businesses in the renewable energy, healthcare, and SaaS sales spaces. She is an internationally recognized speaker on innovation and integration for entrepreneurs and is the author of the book, Spiral: A Catalyst for Innovation and Expansion (Amazon). She holds an MS in Astronautical Engineering from the University of Southern California and an SB in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Connect with MuGrid:

 

Meet Bailey:

Bailey FarrenBailey Farren is the Co-Founder of Perimeter, a team designed to put out fires. She heads the team as CEO, directing sales, fundraising, and team operations. Coming from a family of first responders, she was inspired to develop Perimeter after experiencing the Tubbs Fire in her hometown of Santa Rosa. She brings over six years of technology sales experience to the team and extensive knowledge of data-driven business models. 

 

Meet Cynthia:

Cynthia Murray

Cynthia Murray is President/ CEO of the North Bay Leadership Council (NBLC). Murray served eight years on the Marin County Board of Supervisors and seven years on the Novato City Council, including one term as Mayor. She received the 2010 Women in Business award from the North Bay Business Journal for her achievements in economic development. Murray serves on the boards of many organizations including the North Bay Life Science Alliance, Bay Area Council Economic Institute; First 5 Sonoma County Commission, Sonoma County Health Action Council, Healthy Marin Partnership, Marin School to Careers Partnership, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Policy Advisory Council. Murray is a graduate of Rutgers University, spent 20 years in sales and marketing, and is an adjunct professor at Sonoma State University and Dominican University.

 

Transcription:

Jennifer Gray Thompson: Hi, my name is Jennifer Gray Thompson, and I am the CEO of After the Fire. Welcome to the podcast, How to Disaster, recover, rebuild and reimagine. In this podcast, we bring you the very best practices, best hearts and great ideas from other disaster affected communities. Thank you for joining us. Welcome to Season 3 of the How to Disaster Podcast where we help you recover, rebuild and reimagine. 

During this season, we will be releasing Take 5 shorter episodes that highlight some of our past guests speaking about similar issues, themes, topics. We wanted to do this so that perhaps it would be easier if you only have a few minutes but you wanted to connect with these focused episodes and guests so that you could condense all their messages into one smaller bite sized piece. One of the things that we know about disasters is that we really have to meet people where they’re at. And sometimes, where you’re at is you only have five minutes. We’re very excited for the third season. We’ve got great guests and wonderful information and content about how to actually help get your community through to the other side. So thank you for joining us. 

And if you wish to find out more, please visit our homepage at afterthefireusa.org. Consider giving us a like or follow if you liked this podcast. We really appreciate it and thank you for your time.

From Season 2, Episode 18: How Equity Can be Enhanced in Sustainability and Disaster Preparedness. muGrid Analytics and Power Surge Podcast host, Amy Simpkins, from Conifer, Colorado.

 

“Micro (µ) grid is a collection of energy generation, amps, storage, and distribution assets that sit together very close to where the energy is going to be used. That’s a different architecture from what we currently have.” –Amy Simpkins 

 

Amy Simpkins: The primary foundational concept of the microgrid is that it’s distributed energy. So instead of the way that we have generated electrical power for 150 years in this country, which is to have large centralized power plants, or plants that are expected to serve a whole lot of facilities, how homes, people that might be geographically a really long way away from them. A micro grid is a collection of energy generation, amps storage and distribution assets that sits together very close to where the energy is going to be used. And so that’s a really different architecture from what we currently have.

 

“One of the use cases for natural gas is called CHP which stands for Combined Heat and Power…. It’s actually a symbiotic relationship. because not only in the winter do they need to power their lighting. They need to heat so that the plants don’t freeze. With a CHP plant, you can recapture carbon dioxide and feed it to the plants.” –Amy Simpkins

 

Back to natural gas, I see it as sort of a similar thing that is way cleaner than coal or oil. It’s still a fossil fuel so it’s not a renewable asset. And eventually, we’re going to run out of easy to access resources for it. However, right now, it is a better step than we had before. It’s more likely to be a decentralized generation than distributed. But sometimes, that’s not the case. One of the use cases for natural gas I really love is called CHP, which stands for Combined Heat and Power. And basically, it means that you have a massive generator engine that’s burning natural gas to produce electricity, but then you’re capturing the heat off of that and using it to make steam, or hot water, or some other form of heat that you can then distribute and glean the heat off of it too. What we were looking for like industrial indoor farming was a CHP based solution. And that was why we were taking a look at if they could get natural gas to the farm as it’s actually a really symbiotic relationship. Because not only in the winter do they need to power their lighting, they need to heat so that the plants don’t freeze, but they were buying bottled carbon dioxide to put inside the greenhouse to encourage plant growth because plants like carbon dioxide. And so with a CHP plant, with a natural gas fired plant, you can recapture carbon dioxide and feed it to the plants.

From Season 1, Episode 1: How to Help the Helpers (The First Responders). The Founder and CEO of Perimeter Project, Bailey Farren.

 

“By bringing first responders and public safety into and in conversation with the general public, by getting them the information that they need to make decisions, we’re going to have much more effective processes when it comes to evacuation, and containment, and many other things that happen during all types of disasters.” Bailey Farren

 

Bailey Farren: One of the big problems that we set out to solve was just the fact that people have so little effective geospatial map based information about where to go and how to get there during a disaster. And when we learned about this problem for citizens, it got me asking a lot of questions starting with my dad’s department in Petaluma, California and branching into a lot of other fire departments in California and on the West Coast. And what I learned is that first responders are also depending on not real time information. But oftentimes, relying on paper maps and radios to make a lot of the decisions comes to containment of one of these incidents. So at perimeter, we look at both these scenarios, and we’ve recognized that there’s only a few specific essential types of information that both first responders and citizens need to be able to make the most effective decisions possible. And our goal is to create that platform, and not only provide the most relevant information for both parties, but also to give them an interface that allows them to have the gap bridge, the communication gap bridged between the two different types of people during one of these situations. And we believe that by bringing first responders and public safety into and in conversation with the general public, by getting them the information that they need to make decisions, we’re going to have much more effective processes when it comes to evacuation, containment and many other things that happen during all types of disasters.

So there are currently two interfaces for perimeter. One of them is simply a cross platform web app. That means that if I sent you a link to your phone, you’d click it, it would take you to a website, and it would show you where you are on the map and what kind of emergency incident information that would be most relevant to you where that is as well. And so we see the web link being something that will probably be primarily accessed by citizens who need to be able to make a quick decision and might not have time to download an app. However, we see the app itself as being incredibly valuable for the first responders because in part, something that they deal with on a regular basis is, for example, losing conductivity and they need to make sure that information is actually saved locally to their devices. 

 

“There is some information out there that we can gather together or aggregate in a way that is really valuable… Knowing that there’s one place for that information is absolutely essential knowing that you can have things under control.” -Bailey Farren

 

So I think one thing that we’ll be able to do for the first responders that we work with that can definitely minimize some aspects of the stress that they face is our platform will be automatically saving the information about the incident to their phone in a way that they don’t have to think about it, they don’t have to remember to download anything. As soon as they have any kind of connectivity, they have access to the map and any kind of relevant incident information. It’s already saved. And when they’re out in the middle of nowhere and they don’t have that connectivity, they still have access to the information that might make a huge difference in their lives. And the way that it works right now is there is some information out there that we can kind of gather together, or aggregate in a way that is really valuable for first responders. 

For example, wind speed and wind direction is a factor that drastically influences the course and direction of a fire. And that’s something that we can provide to first responders in real time and in an incredibly intuitive way. Whereas for citizens, something that we’re really focused on, like I mentioned earlier, is all around the evacuation use case. It’s showing citizens, hey, here you are in space, here’s the evacuation zone, and here are the routes that have been recommended for your evacuation, here are the temporary refuge areas that you might want to be going to. And so that’s the type of information that we’re providing. And I think knowing that there’s one place for that information is absolutely essential to knowing that you can have things under control.

Season 1, Episode 8: Communication Failures in Disaster, The Impact on the Private Sector. Our guest host Scott Adams has North Bay Leadership Council CEO, Cynthia Murray.

 

“Chaos in the uncertainty is just phenomenal. None of us can predict when it will end, how it will end, and where we’re going to be when it’s over. All we can do is try and get through this and use this time to examine what we’ve been doing, what can we improve on, and how do we come back and rebuild better than we ever were before.” -Cynthia Murray

 

Cynthia Murray: Chaos in the uncertainty is just phenomenal. And I don’t think any of us in our lifetimes have been through anything like this, and none of us can really predict when it will end? How will it end? And where we’re going to be when it’s over? And all we can do is try and get through this and use this time in the way that they always say, don’t waste a good crisis, use this time to examine what we’ve been doing, what can we improve, and how do we come back and rebuild better than we ever were before. And use it not only for digitization and moving more into the online world, but for decarbonisation. This can also be a time where we start to address climate change which ties right back into the power, because our power grids are so vulnerable to the wild lands, and tree branches, and sparks and things like that. So there’s a lot of synergy about the solutions. Problems may not feel that synergistic. But the solutions, if we do the right things, we can solve multiple problems at the same time. And I’m very excited about that.

 

“If we do the right things, we can solve multiple problems at the same time.” -Cynthia Murray

 

I think one of the key things is what you just said that there needs to be cooperation, and that really the only way we get anything done anymore is through collective will. It’s when we all decide that we have a common purpose, a common find, that common ground, and we’re going to work on this together. We have definitely proven that the government can’t do it alone, business can’t do it alone, people can’t, and a community can’t do it alone. You need to have all those people pulling together collectively to achieve any kind of change or solution. And so what I hope is that we can see a way to build collective will in a stronger way. It’s been absolutely heartbreaking to me the ability to get communication out that people should wear a mask, that it’s become political, that there isn’t this concern for your fellow man. 

 

“The only way we get anything done anymore is through collective will. It’s when we all decide that we have a common purpose, a common ground, and we’re going to work on this together.” -Cynthia Murray 

 

Like in the fires we had in 2017, 2019, everybody came together as a community to help each other and to provide refuge, and give money, and whatever was needed to help people get back on their feet. But now, we have this thing with a pandemic that is just extraordinary that people don’t feel like they have to help each other, they don’t feel like they have to take care of each other. And if we were just wearing masks, thousands and thousands of people would not be dead or permanently damaged with the ravages of the virus. So somehow, we have to figure out a way to get beyond that. I feel very much that we’re not as divided as a nation. There’s so many things we agree on. We’ve got groups trying to make us be more divided, but we’ve got to find that collective will. And if we do that, then we’ll be able to work much better and get the government we deserve. 

Because right now, we have a lot of people who are in government for different reasons, and not necessarily to be there as problem solvers and trying to see how can we make things better, but they’re more to be regulators and to saying, no, and say that you can’t do this and all that, instead of saying, here’s how we could do it, or trying to figure out, how do we figure that out? There’s a lot of ways that the government has worked that don’t work in the 21st century that we need to see if we can figure out cooperatively. How do we bring some of the problem solving and critical thinking skills that business uses to solve problems into government? How do we build more of a community investment in the future that we all matter, and we all we all count, we all are going to have a role to play. And one of my big things I’ve always talked about as having been an elected official is we hear way too much about people’s rights and not about their responsibilities. That whole idea of what being a citizen means, and that we all have responsibilities to do things to make our government work and to make our communities stronger.

Posted in
How to disaster logo

Recent episodes: