New NASA Satellite Tracking Storms – What You Can Do to Help – Hurricane Harvey [As Heard on WTAG]

On This Episode…
Joining Jim Polito over WTAG today, a lot more detail on the technology involved in the hurricane. Brand-new NASA satellite.

What that has meant for the recovery effort, and what the insurance companies are going to do down there using the latest technology and of course that also is going to apply to you if you have a claim in the future.


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Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.

Airing date: 08/29/2017

New NASA Satellite Tracking Storms – What You Can Do To Help – Hurricane Harvey


Craig Peterson: This morning I went into a lot more detail on the technology involved in the hurricane. Brand-new NASA satellite. What that has meant for the recovery effort, and what the insurance companies are going to do down there using the latest technology and of course that also is going to apply to you if you have a claim in the future. Here we go.

Danny Ferrantino: Joining us now, Craig, this storm down in Houston has done a lot more than just mess up Houston. It’s also affecting technology isn’t it?

Craig: Yeah. Hey, good morning. This is obviously a huge disaster. We don’t need to say more about that part of it. But it’s interesting to see what is happening with technology down there. First of all, there was a satellite that would just launched last year. It went up in November. And this particular satellite is designed to do some pretty amazing things. Now, in the past if you were a meteorologist, you could get satellite pictures of storms and kind of use that to kind of predict where the storms are going. But those pictures were about three hours old and you never really knew what was going on in real time. So what you did is you relied on some of the radar systems that were on the ground which were used, and still are, to figure out how much rain is falling. But you never really knew. This new satellite that is being up there in the air for very short period now has been used and it is incredible because it’s giving real time satellite images that are less than a minute old. And in fact it is more reliable, Danny, than the previous use of just the good old radar scanners on the ground. So they were able to use that to predict the path incredibly well. How much rain would be coming down? Where the rain would be coming down? And that alone has helped a lot in some of the rescue efforts. But it’s also going to be used after the fact because you can bet that the insurance claims are already coming in.

Danny: Oh fast and furious.

Craig: Oh, and all of the people that don’t have flood insurance. You know, I do not have it here in my home but I’m also up on the top of the hill. So it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. And of course the federal government’s providing flood insurance. And we will get to the political side of that.

Danny: Yeah.

Craig: But if you don’t have that flood insurance, what are you going to do?

Danny: I think it’s about 12% of people who even live near water have it. So let alone people inland.

Craig: Yeah. It’s not common. It’s really not in the flood insurance too. You might want to double check your policies because sometimes that insurance covers water coming down the walls. It covers water coming in from below. It might cover water coming in from the ground. But there are policies that exempt one or all of each of those different types of water seepage into the home. It gets very, very complicated. And then after the fact, you have the insurance companies who, of course, there were kind of in business to not pay out.

Danny: There’s a reason they exist. Yup.

Craig: Yeah, exactly. So, you know, historically they’ve had to have people go out, insurance adjusters, and have a look at the property and try and assess is this damage caused by the storm? Is this particular home covered? How much damage is there? And you would have three or four for five or dozens of different insurance companies in one neighborhood kind of moving around. Now what they’re able to do is they’re taking that satellite data that we just talked about from the new satellite. They’re able to see exactly where the storm was. They’re taking also the data from the radar to see how much water came down in all of these different areas. They know the elevation of the home. So step one, they’re already assessing the likely damage. Step two now, you have your phone. When you take a picture with that phone the odds are that it is GPS stamped and time-stamped.

Danny: Yup. Geo-tagged. Yup.

Craig: Exactly. So that geo-tag that comes from the GPS satellites tell them down to within a meter or two where exactly that picture was taken. So some of these insurance companies are now taking that tech and using it so you can take pictures of the damage to your home. Now there’s ways to fake this but most people don’t know how.

Danny: Yeah, the average person isn’t going to do so. Yup.

Craig: Yeah exactly. So they’re going to take the pictures of the home. They’re going to be able to upload them once the data networks are back online. And by the way, down in the storm-damaged areas right now, the major phone companies all have free calling and free data if you do have cellular service. And remember that does go out in these storms. You don’t have that phone service. But you’ll be able to upload those pictures to the insurance company. So claims, do you remember with Katrina? People years later still haven’t been able to settle claims. They will be settling claims starting next week.

Danny: Wow.

Craig: It’s going to be incredible. And some of these insurance companies, in addition to what we just talked about, are going to be flying drones over the neighborhoods. So they’re going to pre-assess. They will be able to verify that the pictures of the homeowner sent them are probably legitimate from these drone photos that are taken, videos that are taken. It’s all going to be uploaded. It’s going to be very, very automated this year. And I think that’s good because they are able to use these accurate weather data models and to show exactly what happened, where it happened. What damage is suffered? So that’s one of the aspects of technology down there. The free calls is another one which I think is just fantastic. I’m so glad they’re doing that. But we also now have something you can do at home right now to help out. Now you know, I’m an amateur radio operator. I have an advanced class ham license. And us, hams, always get busy when these things happen because, as I said, the phone networks go down. The cell networks, there is no data in the areas. And us, hams, are ready and prepared. Here in the Northeast, you know something comes through from New York State and it’s working its way through Mass, out to the coast or the opposite direction. We get online and we are tracking the storms. We know what’s happening. And we carry data on our ham radios nowadays. So we get involved with the police and often what will happen is a ham radio operator will be with the police or and/or the fire department and/or EMS to help coordinate because we have the radios and the ability to be able to communicate that even the emergency services people often just don’t have. And they don’t have the ability to talk to each other very well. So that’s always been a really big plus. And I’ve been involved in those emergency efforts many times in the past. Right now you can just pull out your smart phone. And the Red Cross needs cash as do so many of these agencies that are there. They need cash more than anything else. This is going to be a long term need. And with your smart phone, even your basic cell phone, if you can send a text message, you can send money to the Red Cross’ Hurricane Harvey Relief Effort. All you do is you open up your text app, and you’re going to text to what’s called a short code. Text to this number 90999. Now this is going to cost you $10. It’s going to also, you know, any normal data and text rates will apply. But you’re going to text to 90999 to donate $10. You’re going to text the word Red Cross.

Danny: They can do Red Cross or they can do WTAG. We set up one here to WTAG with that number that will go right to the Red Cross and you know you can donate your $10 there as well. Or WHYN. WHYN or WTAG.

Craig: Perfect. And then that $10 donation is going to be charged to your mobile phone bill. It’s really going to help. Now there’s other things going on as well. Facebook have declared this to be an emergency. And if it’s, you know, if it’s Facebook real, it’s real. Right>

Danny: Yeah. It’s official then if it’s on Facebook.

Craig: It’s official. So you can now also go on to Facebook. People have been checking their friends and relatives who are down in the hurricane area. There also have been postings on Facebook. People looking for something. Needing things. Things are getting shipped in. All of the major carriers, the UPSes, FedEx’s etc., have extra shipments going down there. Airplanes and trucks. This dorm is not over yet as you’ve heard. But ultimately it will be and they’re going to need just a ton of help. So texting WTAG to the 90999 number that $10 donation and, what was the other call in?

Danny: WHYN.

Craig: WHYN. That is probably the best thing most of us can do. But there is a request for food, for rides, volunteers, for cleanup crews. They’re on Facebook. You can find all of that pretty easily online. If you can afford the time, they’re going to need manpower down there something awful to help clean up. And there’s, of course, in the aftermath of these, there’s a lot of disease that can spread. We got to clean it up quickly. But now’s the time to get involved. Use some of    that tech to really help you out and help your, ultimately, your neighbors out.

Danny: I say it’s funny, Craig, how you would assume a catastrophe like this would wipe out technology. Yet with the help of technology, they’re going to rebuild.

Craig: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s going to be huge. This is going to go on for long time. And for the first time ever really, there’s something we can do. It’s not like Hurricane Katrina where we had, you know, the federal government trying to get involved. We have local officials keeping FEMA out of the area. They didn’t want the federal government in. In this case, the state and local community have cooperated. FEMA’s gone in quickly. All these government agencies have gone in quickly, which is really good. And we have technology now that we didn’t have, that lets us all keep up-to-date, track everything. In fact, you know that tracker I mentioned, that new satellite that’s up there from NASA. That was used to warn residents. They knew exactly where the storm was moving, where the heaviest bands of rain were. And they were sending alerts to cell phones that were still operating, letting people know to get out of the way. And that’s probably something that would’ve saved more than a few lives Danny.

Danny: Yeah. I mean even to see the numbers different from the storm compared to Katrina. Katrina was in the thousands. With this, I think, we’ve had nine confirmed so far. So, in that one aspect, we have seen a lot less lives lost.

Craig: Yeah, absolutely. Now, this morning, you were talking a little bit about Google and listening in on the smart phones. I just want to mention that you got to be careful with your phones. If you’re using your Google android device, there’s something called Google assistant. And the idea is you can say, okay Google, that’ll wake up the smart phone. There we go again.

Danny: So basically Google’s answer to Siri with Apple.

Craig: It is. Exactly right. So, you’re supposed say, okay Google. The phone is listening. It hears that phrase. It records 10 to 20 seconds. It uploads it. It transcribes it. It keeps it forever. But the problem is that sometimes all you have to do is say okay in the middle of a conversation. The phone will misinterpret it. In fact, okay go for it, is usually enough to get your android device to listen to what you’re saying. Record whatever’s going on. Send it up to Google and it will live forever basically up in the Google cloud. So be very careful with your phone, the Google phone. Siri, not something that normally comes up in a conversation but obviously can happen with that. And many of us now have these Amazon Echo devices. You have to be careful with those as well because they are active microphones listening to everything you say. So be very careful. Now you can go into Google, your Gmail or Google account, look for activity controls on the left-hand side of the page and you can go and look at your web and app activity. You can manage it. You can delete some of that history. But remember, basically anything you say might live on forever.

Danny: Oh, same thing as always. Once it’s up on the web, it’s always there Craig.

Craig: Exactly.

Danny: We had so much great stuff. Unfortunately we didn’t get to most of it. If our listeners want to hear more, what can they do?

Craig: Well if you just text right now Jim to 855-385-5553. Or today only, Danny, to 855-385-5553. Just the word Danny, I’ll send you the link to this and I’ll send you my show notes every week.

Danny: Look at that. As always, text and data rates do apply. Craig I appreciate the time. I’ve learned so much again this morning. We’ll talk to you again next week.

Craig: Thanks Danny. Take care.

Danny: Thanks buddy. Craig Peterson.

Craig: Hey thanks for listening. And please do take a couple of minutes. I’d really appreciate it if you’d go and rate this podcast on iTunes. Http:// Have a great day. Bye-bye.

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