CB2: On Location at the Colombian Floods

Hola and Feliz Navidad from 35,000 feet as I blog on my return flight from Bogota, Colombia where I return with sunburn, coffee and new perspectives after working with the government of Barranquilla to combat devastating floods in the country.

Exactly one week after witnessing the Army Corp of Engineers’ giant levee plug in Vicksburg, MS (read last week’s CB2) my partner in GovLive and I enthusiastically accepted an invitation by the Colombian government to demonstrate and train first responders on the flood protection system Tiger Dams. Each of these rapidly-deployable dams is 50’ in length by 18” in diameter and can be stacked up to 30’ and joined to form infinite lengths. If you remember, this is the same thing that brought me to the BP Oil Spill this summer.

The YouTube video at the end of this blog highlights the extent of the damage in Colombia after a levee broke to the tune of a 200m gap, flooding eight villages. Fed up with the resulting disease, cost and lack of volunteers to deploy sandbags, officials are looking to Tiger Dams as the solution for future flooding events.

The experience was amazing and it felt great sharing new technology like this with another country – not to mention an interesting way to visit my first South American country.

You’ve Got to See This

A new smartphone application named WordLens is honestly a little mind-blowing. For $5 you can point your camera phone at any sign, document, etc. in a foreign language and the screen updates to reflect the English translation. What’s really impressive is the augmented reality aspect of actually erasing the original Spanish text from the picture and replacing it with English. You can download it here or just take a look at the screenshots below.

Colombia Humanitaria – A Closer Look at the Flood

Read Last Week’s CB2: Plugging Levee Breaks

About Chris Bennett (Jump to Online Resume)

Chris Bennett is a self-proclaimed emergency management innovator who is trying to make government better by improving citizen preparedness and crisis communications. He’s a graduate of Wharton with a master’s from Harvard with in “Technology, Innovation, Education.” His portfolio of companies and former projects include OneStorm Hurricane Preparedness, ReadyTown, GovLive, TexasPrepares and America’s Emergency Network. Chris was the recipient of FL Governor Crist’s 2008 Public Information Award. He lives in St. Petersburg, FL, loves to fish, and has been spotted sharing a pint with GovLoop Founder Steve Ressler in Tampa.

What does CB2 Mean? “Chris Bennett’s Crisis Blog.” It was originally CB Squared but the superscript 2 never took, so now we’re rocking the big 2.

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Chris Bennett

The pictures above in my post were ones I took at a Home Depot like store in Colombia. So yes, I tried it! Works better for short phrases in good light. Not as good for full page documents since you need to fit it all on the screen yet still be able to read the letters.

Martha Garvey

Oh, Chris. My heart breaks. I spent two months in Colombia (including Barranquilla) when I was in college. What an amazing country. I am glad you were able to help.