Uh oh. Just when LA had finished cleaning up all those shark guts from Syfy's disaster of a -- um, I mean, disaster film -- a "Sharknado" sequel has start filming in New York. That means the city will soon be swarming with hungry flying sharks (and bad acting).
When such a disaster hits -- besides being really good with a chainsaw -- few things are as important as being able to evacuate town effectively. You definitely don't want to be waiting for a red light when the streets are flowing with red. Insfrastructure is vital as well.
Ben Collar, director of Mobility Research & Development at Siemens, got in touch with me to talk about all his company has learned about dealing with disasters after events like Hurricane Ike. Here, he offers tips for ways in which the Big Apple could avoid having too many chunks ripped out of it in the impending attack. It's definitely one company's perspective -- and wouldn't you know it, it's a company that just so happens to sell products like traffic management systems and traffic signal tools -- but maybe these reminders will help city planners prepare for a funnel full of flying fish heading right at 'em:
It's OK -- in fact, imperative -- to acknowledge the danger that's headed your way.
It's important to get the message out: actively and passively notify your citizens. This is where the first "Sharknado" movie DID get it right -- the Emergency Alert System worked! Many US cities and universities today have voluntary Mass Notification Systems to broadcast alerts via smartphone, building management systems, and dynamic message signs on roadways.
The sooner you know the flesh-eating fish-doom is coming, the better.
Fifteen minutes into the first movie, patrons were watching the tornado from a beachside bar. They should have been evacuating. So, in addition to informing their citizens, cities must make sure the infrastructure is prepared for evacuation.
You have to keep energy levels up and on.
You need to have power, period. How else are you going to keep the lights on in the hardware stores so you can find all of the materials you need to make your sharkbombs? Microgrids, which are like self-reliant power islands, would allow central emergency management centers to remain operational. They're particularly popular with military bases, but are becoming more widely used.
Bury your electric cables.
They could get wet. Floods happen. They bring sharks. Sharks have big teeth that can bite through electric wires. So Collar recommends burying the fiber-optic cables for network communication between emergency management centers and the traffic signals at intersections so they will remain operational. The reason Houston stayed "on" during Hurricane Ike, he says, was because buried cables enabled the city to keep its traffic signals up and running.
Cars have to go somewhere -- when not swallowed up by flood waters.
It's great to have heroes who bravely strike out to save evacuees from the rising flood waters in the underpass, but when folks really want to move, you need to ensure the roadways can handle it.
In an emergency, roadways should be like a race course.
Wouldn't it be great if you could get green lights all the way to high, dry land? You can. Traffic command centers can help by adjusting traffic signal timing and prioritizing green lights on heavily congested routes, as they already do around Houston's Reliant Stadium and Los Angeles' highway ramps. If LA had had ramp metering in the the first "Sharknado" movie, that underpass flood-out could have been avoided!
Buses aren't just for kids.
Adults should take them, too. Especially because mass transit vehicles can get an expedited pass. Rapid-transit bus systems like the one in San Antonio communicate directly with traffic signals and can get green lights when there's a lot of roadway congestion.
There's more to staying connected than your spelunking ropes.
Cling to connectivity. It's great that one of the heroes of "Sharknado" had climbing ropes in the back of his SUV so he could save students in a sinking school bus. But there's a better way to stay connected: install roadside equipment that provides local Wi-Fi hot spots to give citizens additional lines of communication when cell towers are overwhelmed.
You need more than a chainsaw to help you through a tough situation.
There had to be an easier way for Fin to escape when he dove headfirst into the shark's mouth. Safety apps for smartphones and tablets can provide drivers and pedestrians with updated, context-sensitive emergency instructions about the best evacuation plans.
And finally -- steer clear of New York City.
We've got plenty of warning that the next tornado of teeth is heading that way!
Should your city fail to follow any of this advice before the next sharknado heads your way, might I suggest wearing this? It might just be the camo you need for this type of battle.