RC#12 A Lesson Learned: Tyler Suchman's Emergencity

The Day Fire (started on Labor Day, September 4 – contained on October 13, 2006) is the sixth largest fire in California history. By, October 1st, it had burned over 162,700 acres , cost $70.3 million, and at one point, had 4,600 active firefighters.

During the Day Fire, only one website, a blog called the OjaiPost.com, (run by local technologist Tyler Suchman) digested all of the data that was out there and put it into a simple and useful format so that people in the Ojai Valley could quickly see where the fires were; where the evacuation centers were; what roads were closed, etc.  The site also allowed for public input and feedback.   The Ojai community (site of lengendary Shanri-La in the 1937 film, Lost Horizon)  contains 8,000 – 10,000 homes- population about about 32,000.  Once publicized, the site was getting 8,000 unique hits a day.  Do the math and you will see that most everyone in the valley, even people traveling out of the country and wondering about their homes, had a simple, single place to go to for the best collected information available.  Tyler drew his data from a variety of inci-web type sites and made it consumer friendly.
People got the news they needed.  There was no panic in the valley and the firefighters were able to get the job done. Contrast that with the floods of 2005 when a complete lack of knowledge about road closures – essentially one way in/out – and their duration each day caused a mini panic in the Ojai Valley that led to the shelves of most grocery stores being stripped bare.   

But to get people to go to his site, in essence, Tyler had to fight his way to the podium at a townhall meeting, and it took awhile to get normal media to “understand” and publicize.  Working together across organizational and functional boundaries comes hard – no matter how logical.

Sometimes the good guys get buried, but not always. Please see Tyler Suchman “leaning forward.”


Emergencity, Inc. Announces Company Launch – Innovative Approaches to Online Communities and Emergency Management

Emergencity provides local communities with a proven and sophisticated web communications infrastructure and enables next-generation emergency and crisis management through effective aggregation and distribution of actionable intelligence.

Ventura, CA – April 14, 2008 – A group of Ventura County entrepreneurs announces the establishment of Emergencity, Inc., a Web solution to the need for community-based information in the time of natural disasters and other crises.

In the event of a wildfire, flood or other natural disaster or emergency, local residents need a single place they can go to for all the information they would need about their families, homes and businesses. Emergencity is a community service provider whose mission is to provide local communities with a proven and sophisticated web communications infrastructure. It enables next-generation emergency and crisis management by aggregating and distributing critical information, or “actionable intelligence.”

Emergencity Founder and CEO Tyler Suchman, named to the 2007 Top 40 Under 40 by the Pacific Coast Business Times, began developing the Emergencity platform in response to the lessons learned during the Day Fire in September 2006, which threatened a number of communities throughout Ventura County.  His community blog, The Ojai Post, was hailed by local media and citizens as an “innovative,” “comprehensive,” “accurate,” “vital information portal” that “filled a gaping hole in local communications.”

Joining Suchman is Tim Gallagher, publisher and editor of the Ventura County Star for fourteen years and now owner of Gallagher 20/20 Consulting, and Rahul Sonnad who founded and was CEO/Chairman of thePlatform, which was sold to Comcast in 2006 for $100 million.  The founding team brings more than 65 years collective experience in technology, community and media.

“We live in a time of increasing natural disasters and other potentially disruptive crises, where our communities need accurate and up-to-the-minute information allowing people to make smart decisions about their families, pets, property and businesses,” said Suchman.  “We are confident that the Emergencity platform has tremendous business potential, while firmly rooted in social responsibility and community service.”

Gallagher said, “We have learned that in a crisis, people turn to the Web. But up until now, there has not been a good, reliable single website for people to visit and get all the critical information they need. That’s the need we are filling with Emergencity.”

The platform is an integrated set of two products. Towngroove is a set of community applications, including jobs, events, business directory, restaurants and more, with social networking capabilities.  Towngroove can be deployed as a white-label community solution for a specific client such as a regional newspaper, or architected as a partnership with the pillars of a local community, including local government, media, business and non-governmental organizations.

The second Emergencity product is a comprehensive, robust suite of hosted emergency services that aggregates and distributes actionable intelligence to the community in which it is deployed. Emergencity also facilitates local volunteerism, providing a secure online application for the management of community members with skills, experience, certifications and resources in a time of crisis.

Emergencity, Inc. will be initially launching two community hubs – one for Ojai, CA and another for Loreto Bay, a planned community in Baja Mexico.

About Emergencity, Inc.
Emergencity is an early-stage technology company located in Ventura County, California. Emergencity’s mission is to provide local communities with a proven and sophisticated web communications infrastructure, to enable next-generation emergency and crisis management through effective aggregation and distribution of critical information, or “actionable intelligence,” from all corners of the community and to benefit the social fabric of a community, including volunteerism, commerce, culture, and philanthropy.

Leslie Davis, PR
leslie -at- emergencity.com


Filed in Adaptive Leadership,Resilient Community | Comments Off

Comments are closed at this time.