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FastCommand is 'cloud' with silver lining in storm response

By Beth Stephenson, For The Oklahoman Modified: May 24, 2014 at 10:00 pm •  Published: May 24, 2014

Tornado-producing wall clouds don’t have silver linings, but software designer Kevin Foote has created an information technology cloud that can mitigate some of the confusion in a disaster’s aftermath.

He calls it FastCommand.

Oklahoma members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are working to implement FastCommand before another disaster occurs in the state.

“We feel our Mormon Helping Hands had an outstanding response in 2013. But we see some ways we can be better organized,” said Kevin Graves, president of the Oklahoma City area for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Through our involvement with the VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster), we’ve identified more ways that we can serve our communities.”

Foote said the Internet is the most redundant communication tool available for emergency coordination “when primary communication fails since there are so many alternate networks and devices available.”

Mick Batt, a technology specialist for the Mormon church, has been working with Foote to tailor the program to Oklahoma’s specific needs.

“During and after our 2013 tornado relief work, it became apparent that we could better manage our resources and serve our communities more effectively during such times of need,” Batt said.

“We wanted to improve our disaster management response time, become better organized and generate detailed FEMA reports. Kevin Foote stepped in with FastCommand. It can do all that.”

When a disaster has been declared, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse affected cities and counties for each hour of volunteer labor performed. The net rate is between $13 and $14 per hour, so it adds up fast. But volunteer hours must be carefully documented according to FEMA criteria. FastCommand largely automates those records.

“We spent many hours manually inputting the data after the 2013 tornadoes,” said Jan Larsen, director of public affairs for the Mormon church in central and western Oklahoma.

“But we wanted Moore and the other disaster areas where Mormon Helping Hands worked to get that money from FEMA. It was worth it, but we won’t have to do it next time. Using FastCommand, we’ll have the data ready to go by the time we’ve finished the work orders.”

Language specialists

Mormon VOAD representative Fred Morice pointed out that Latter-day Saints have a unique ability to supply language translators. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sends missionaries around the globe. They learn the languages where they serve.

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