13 noiembrie 2009

CEPIS — Remaining Relevant for the Next 20 Years

CEPIS — Remaining Relevant for the Next 20 Years
Vasile Baltac, President Elect CEPIS

The rapid, unparalleled development of technologies has challenged IT professionals in a way that no other profession has encountered. The future of the ICT industry will continue to make no less challenging demand on our IT professionals. CEPIS, as their European representative body has to respond to these challenges, the author outlines what these chal­lenges are likely to be and how CEPIS can put its experience to use in addressing them.

Keywords: Certification, Dissemination of Basic Skills, Education, E-Learning, End-Users, Entrepreneurs, Higher Education Institutions, IT Industry, Lifelong Learning, Pro­fessionalism, Research, Second Generation Digital Divide, Universities.

20 years is a long time in Information Technology (IT). The Web was invented just two decades ago and many of the Internet's features today were not even thought of then. This rapid, unparalleled technological development has chal­lenged IT professionals in a way that no other profession has encountered. The Council of European Professional Informatics Societies (CEPIS), as the European representa­tive of national professional bodies, has had the mission of coping with these developments. New professions have had to be included and professionalism, a major CEPIS preoc­cupation, has been defined and re-defined as we gave seen extreme European diversification that allows for everything, but simplification.

Information technology has become a day to day tool for a significant number of people. 20 years ago, what we today call the Internet was used by some thousands of peo­ple, whereas now more that 1.5 billion people (more that 23% of the world's population), use IT, mostly in networks. CEPIS responded to this phenomenal increase in the use of technology by defining and launching the European Com­puter Driving Licence (ECDL), the most recognised Euro­pean tool for certification of the basic skills needed to use IT. We are now approaching the issue of the 10 millionth ECDL Skills Card; a figure that demonstrates the adoption of the concept not only in Europe, but also on other conti­nents.

While the European Certification of Informatics Profes­sionals (EUCIP) has not yet met all expectations, it is still a CEPIS project with high potential aimed at helping IT pro­fessionals with a vendor neutral certification.

CEPIS represents professionals from both academia and the IT industry. This is the main reason why CEPIS set up a task force to examine the relationship between them. The task force found that universities and industry do not yet cooperate at a sufficiently close level. The changing world influences universities making them operate in an environ‑

Vasile Baltac is a well-known Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) personality in Romania. He started his long career in information technology in 1961 as a computer pioneer and continued his studies in the '60s at Cambridge (United Kingdom) with Sir Maurice V. Wilkes, Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) and of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) Back in Romania he contributed to the development of the Romanian computer industry coordinating national projects leading to the creation of mainframes, minicomputers, and software engineering. Dr. Baltac went on to become a top manager of nationwide IT related research and manufacturing organisations. Dr. Baltac is currently President of ATIC (the ICT Association of Romania), university professor at the prestigious National School of Public Administration and Political Studies, a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and of other professional societies. He has initiated successful national projects in e-Government, IT skills dissemination (European/International Computer Driving Licences, ECDL/ICDL) and is involved in IT-policy projects within the European Union, UNIDO, World Bank, etc. Since 2006 he has served as Vice-Chairman of WITSA (World Information Technology and Services Alliances) in charge with Eastern Europe and from 2006-2008 he served as Vice-President of CEPIS. Since November 2008 he has been President Elect of CEPIS. He is listed in various Who's Who, received the Romanian Academy Award and the National Order For Merit of Romania. He has published books and papers on computers, information technology and society, the history of computers, etc. Recently he discussed the digital divide, social issues of IT, e-Readiness and technology foresight at important conferences in Romania, France, Malaysia, Germany, Hungary and Italy. Prof. Baltac is active in community social projects as member of the Rotary Club "Old Court" Bucharest (Romania). <baltac@cepis.org>.

ment where there is a trend towards part-time studies, in particular for computer-related subjects. While several uni­versities favour theoretical research and leave applied re­search to industry, the research activity in universities, both theoretical and applied, is the most important pillar for sus­taining teaching and bringing educators close to current in­dustrial practice. CEPIS believes that speeding up the ap­plication of research, to match the high innovation rate in ICT seems to benefit industry but forces universities into industry-like timeframes.

One of CEPIS 's findings was the present scarcity of ICT skills in Europe. While universities are mostly prudent about the qualitative aspects of ICT skills needed, they are also pushed by the market to adapt and provide solutions for the increasing scarcity of ICT professionals. The different ap­proaches of universities and industry to realising the skills required in graduates only increases the gap between what universities offer and what industry needs. Reconciling these divergent approaches for reducing the gap between the skills demanded by industry and the ICT skills offered by univer­sity graduates is difficult and may be impossible to achieve.

The present and future of the ICT industry present chal­lenges for professionals. CEPIS as their European repre­sentative body has to be able to cope with these challenges. Continuous advances in information systems technologies and applications require us to reconsider the skills needed by tomorrow's ICT professionals. Probably most important is to recognise that building an Information Society (and further a Knowledge Society) needs a new type of profes­sional, with new skills as yet unknown. A recent poll by ATIC shows that the IT industry in Romania (probably in­dicative of similar situations in other European countries), lacks system analysts and architects, database administra­tors, application services and security experts, product ap­plications, services and sales skills and Chief Executive/ Technical/Information Officers (CE0s/CTOs/CIOs).

The next advances in the industry will cover a wide va­riety of areas from Web 2.0 and 3.0 to Service-Oriented Architectures, grid-computing, Enterprise 2, Internet Pro­tocol Television (IPTV), etc. There will be dramatic changes in the world of media, news and publishing, further impact by search technologies and a deeper integration into our environment paralleled by a proliferation of new levels of high speed connections. At the same time there will be a rise in privacy concerns (and institutions are slow to change). Already some people question the need for so many Internet Protocol (IP) addresses to be interconnected and the stabil­ity of huge databases. A new wave of worries about the environment has reached our industry shores and Green IT has become a preoccupation.

One matter of great importance is the capability to keep applications growing at the same pace as micro-electron­ics. It has been stated that delays between successive radi­cal breakthroughs in computer science decrease exponentially, i.e. each new one comes roughly twice as fast as the previous one. Integrated circuitry seems to con­form to this law. Killer applications, however, appear at a much slower speed.

While we have several accelerating factors that bring ever shorter cycles of innovation, e.g. new hardware tech­nologies, broadband advances, search engine capabilities, e-Content growth and availability, open source software, e- Education impact, we are confronted with decelerating fac­tors such as limitations of present technologies, increasing complexity, information overload, slowing down of hard­ ware by software, and compatibility issues to name just a few. At the same time the future of the industry is threat­ened by vulnerability problems, the increasing volatility of information storage, intellectual property protection issues, the need for perennial standards for media, etc.

All these will bring new challenges for ICT profession­als. Consequently, CEPIS has to adapt itself to this very dynamic environment. CEPIS will be confronted with sev­eral issues, not new, but with a stronger impact than before:
  • Professionalism in the new even more dynamic en­vironment.
  • Education issues for professionals.
  • Education issues for ICT users.

Professionalism has to be enhanced by certification. The ICT industry has developed a full series of vendor certifi­cations. A more general certification based less on com­pany-specific competencies and more on general profes­sional standards could build a university-industry bridge. CEPIS has great potential in terms of creating the vendor neutral schemes needed by industry.

Education of professionals will increasingly be based on higher education institutions. These institutions, as the recent CEPIS report on Universities and Industry shows, aim to produce well-qualified scientists and engineers with a strong scientific background. In practice, most large ICT companies ask for a solid scientific background as they have the resources to further train their staff. Smaller ICT com­panies prefer specialised "ready-to-work" ICT graduates who provide a quick return on investment without incur­ring the expense of additional training. It is impossible to reconcile these two opposing requirements to provide ICT graduates who are both flexible and immediately usable. Each university has to decide which kind of professional it wants to offer to industry and adapt its curricula to best fit that requirement within the type of profession chosen.

The ICT industry is fed by entrepreneurs. CEPIS can work with the European universities to better contribute to the increase of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the ICT sector; firstly by giving their students a scientific and technical background that allows them to be innova­tive and secondly by equipping them with the managerial skills they will need to run a small enterprise.

ICT is particularly appropriate for lifelong learning. Continuous education with short cycles is a necessity. The shortage of ICT skills brings an important number of non­ICT university graduates into the ICT field, mostly in de­veloping countries. CEPIS could play a better role in the ICT education of those people who have already worked in the industry for years or are undergoing professional cross- /re-training. In addition, new advances in e-Learning tech­nologies allow and favour distance learning, enabling uni­versities to play a more important role in the post-graduate training of ICT professionals. E-Business skills are not gen­erally covered by university curricula because they require the deep context knowledge that comes from on-the-job experience. Instead such skills training are frequently of­fered by IT vendors as a consultancy service. This is the category of professionals most sought after by the market and is also the category most likely to seek professional cer­tifications.

CEPIS is well known as a promoter of the dissemina­tion of basic skills in the use of ICT. With the rapid rise in ICT users (already exceeding 1.5 billion people), the ECDL programme becomes even more important in assuring the quality of these skills. ECDL will further increase aware­ness of the need for basic skills. The digital divide is still evident in many respects in Europe and CEPIS will further support efforts for the e-Inclusion of large categories of peo­ple. Through ICDL, the ECDL Foundation contributes to achieving these goals on other continents.

On the other hand, we may notice the signs of what I would call a "Second Generation Digital Divide". People acquire only the simplest tools needed to use ICT and are far from using the new ICT tools and applications, most of which can deliver a notable increase in productivity and quality of work, e.g. via collaboration or cloud computing. It will be a major challenge for the ECDL programme to cover the new basic tools of the Internet and the general use of ICT.

The 20th anniversary is a moment for CEPIS to reflect on its own capability as an organisation. I am sure that the Council and Execom will take into account the experience gained during the first 20 years to further enhance CEPIS.

Some of the CEPIS areas of development we may pur­sue next:

1) Increase in Membership: Our constitution states that a professional association from a country member of the Council of Europe may become a member of CEPIS. At present, the Council of Europe has 47 member states. Our council represents 36 member societies in only 33 countries across Europe, leaving enough room for further CEPIS en­largement.

2) Performance Improvement: CEPIS has acted on behalf of member societies and will continue to do so. How­ever, a more prominent leading role in major projects would be welcome.

3) New Strategy: A new strategy is needed for a chang­ing world. This strategy will be the result of the input of the member societies and will reflect the new European ICT environment.

4) Enhanced Recognition: CEPIS is a recognised voice of ICT professionals, but a more dedicated contribution to European decisions on Information Society could be sought.

5) Digital Literacy: CEPIS will continue to be the main body to propose, through the ECDL Foundation, a certify­ing programme with periodic enhancements to reflect new developments in the ICT industry.

6) Higher Education Institutions: CEPIS can act as a pan-European mediator between universities and industry in a multi-stakeholder partnership. CEPIS can review the current content of curricula for ICT studies to ensure a posi­tive impact on the future of the ICT industry by providing graduates with the proper theoretical background and prac­tical training.

7) e-Learning: CEPIS will support e-learning as a methodology for continuing professional development and considers that universities can be encouraged to offer mas­ter or other post-graduate conversion courses to non-ICT graduates.

8) Better visibility: An improved newsletter, Website, statements, position papers, UPGRADE/UPENET, confer­ences and awards will contribute to the increased visibility of CEPIS among professionals in Europe.

9) Cooperation. There are many European bodies rep­resenting ICT businesses and professionals. CEPIS has to strengthen cooperation with them and become a central point in this network. Special attention will be given to re­gional alliances of member societies.

10) Constitution. 20 years of existence has proved that the current constitution is the right basic document for our Council. Some modification will be needed to adapt to the forthcoming new strategy and to improve governance.

As has already been said above, IT 20 years is a quite long period of time in computing. Generations of hardware, software, and applications have been developed by ICT pro­fessionals. Their professional background has been radi­cally altered and this trend will continue.

CEPIS has done a lot to accomplish its mission goals:
  • To be the main network of European IT Profession­als.
  • To become established as the leading independent European IT Certification Organisation.
  • To raise the profile and promote the views of the European Informatics Societies and Informatics Profession­als to the European Commission and European Institutions.
  • To promote the development of the Information So­ciety through digital literacy, skills, education & research and professionalism.

To keep achieving all of these goals, CEPIS has chal­lenging years ahead.

30 iunie 2009

Despre Internet, ultraviolete, hoax, digital divide

Am primit în ultimele zile pe mail de la persoane foarte serioase mai multe avertizari privind radiaţii ultraviolete anormale pe care două puteri ale statului, guvernul şi mass-media, ni le ascund. La rândul lor persoanele respective le-au primit de la alte persoane serioase.

În principiu, este vorba de faptul că ni se ascunde o alertă generală în Europa privind radiaţiile ultraviolete provenite de la soare care au ajuns la nivele de 9,4 (Ungaria) de 9 ori mai mari decât poate suporta pielea omului în condiţii normale. În plus, că România este şi ea în zona afectată.

M-am documentat, operaţie foarte simplă, chiar pe Internet. Nu întâmplător informaţii detaliate sunt date de Guvernul Australiei, dată fiind radiaţia solară intensă asupra continentului respectiv.

La adresa
ni se lămureşte ce este indexul UV, fiecare unitate a scalei reprezentând 25 miliwatt pe metru pătrat. O imagine sugestivă arată cum se citeşte o alertă de radiaţii ultraviolete.

Valori de 12 unităţi sunt considerate extreme şi periculoase, o expunere îndelungată conducând la pericolul cancerului de piele.

Am fost curios care sunt valorile înregistrate în ultimele zile la Bucureşti. Tot pe Internet am gasit monitorizarea indexului UV de către un laborator din Olanda
Am introdus coordonatele oraşului Bucuresti şi a rezultat tabelul de mai jos cu date care par normale pentru lunile de vară. Pentru comparaţie am studiat şi oraşul Bordeaux care se află aproximativ pe aceiaşi latitudine şi unde situaţia este comparabilă.
28 Jun 2009 7.6 343.2 DU
29 Jun 2009 7.9 332.8 DU
30 Jun 2009 7.8 334.6 DU
1 Jul 2009 7.6 340.8 DU
2 Jul 2009 7.6 341.1 DU
3 Jul 2009 8.1 324.0 DU
4 Jul 2009 8.1 325.3 DU
5 Jul 2009 8.2 322.4 DU
6 Jul 2009 8.1 324.0 DU


28 Jun 2009 8.1 323.9 DU
29 Jun 2009 8.0 325.8 DU
30 Jun 2009 8.4 314.0 DU
1 Jul 2009 8.8 305.4 DU
2 Jul 2009 8.1 321.5 DU
3 Jul 2009 8.7 307.5 DU
4 Jul 2009 8.4 313.2 DU
5 Jul 2009 7.8 330.8 DU
6 Jul 2009 8.1 319.9 DU

În emisfera sudică fiind iarnă nivelele sunt reduse. Ca de exemplu, la Melbourne.


30 Jun 2009 1.6 313.0 DU
1 Jul 2009 1.6 301.7 DU
2 Jul 2009 1.4 354.3 DU
3 Jul 2009 1.7 293.8 DU
4 Jul 2009 1.8 280.2 DU
5 Jul 2009 1.9 274.8 DU
6 Jul 2009 1.8 282.7 DU
7 Jul 2009 1.7 305.6 DU
8 Jul 2009 1.7 302.6 DU

În concluzie, ştim cu toţii că vara radiaţiile ultraviolete sunt mai puternice decât în alte anotimpuri, medicii ne sfătuiesc să ne expunem moderat la soare, mai ales în iulie şi august. Dar, de aici până a anunţa că ni se ascunde o alertă generală este cale lungă.

Apare deci evident că mesajele sunt expresia unei glume proaste, în limba engleză hoax. Mă întreb adesea cine creează astfel de hoax-uri şi de ce o fac. Probabil, unii ca să se amuze pe seama celor ce nu au timp sau cunoştinţe să verifice. Alţii, chiar cred în ce spun, dar nu realizează că Era Digitală pemite multiplicarea exponenţială şi a ştirilor adevărate şi a celor false.

Internetul introduce o nouă formă de decalaj digital (digital divide), cel legat de capabilitatea de interpretare a conţinutului digital.

View Vasile Baltac's profile on LinkedIn

Ce este un browser?

Îi întreb adesea pe studenţii din primul an dacă ştiu şi pot explica şi altora ce este un browser. Un sondaj redat în filmuleţul postat pe YouTube arată că numai 8% din cei întrebaţi în Times Square, New York ştiau.

Oare care ar fi procentul la noi? Vorbitorii de limba engleză pot urmări acest film.

View Vasile Baltac's profile on LinkedIn

8 aprilie 2009

Cutremurele și sfaturi pe Internet

View Vasile Baltac's profile on LinkedIn

Pericolul unui cutremur catastrofal în jumătatea sud-estică a României și recentele cutremure din Italia și Portugalia au condus, firesc, și la o recrudescență a sfaturilor postate pe Internet privind comportamentul în caz de cutremur.

Un document tradus și în limba română este atribuit lui Douglas Copp, auto-intitulat expert mondial în salvare de vieți în zone calamitate de cutremur. Ca unul ce am trăit la București cutremurul din 4 martie 1977 am fost puțin mirat de recomandarea de nu sta sub tocuri de ușă. La vremea respectivă a fost o concluzie că amplasarea sub tocuri de ușă este un mod de a diminua riscul de moarte sau vătămare gravă.

Nu sunt expert în cutremure și am căutat mai departe pe Internet. Există multe site-uri care îl promovează pe Copp, dar și destule voci de experți care îl combat. Asttfel dr. Marla Petal consideră sfaturile lui Copp periculoase și afirmă că:

Recently many well-meaning people, wanting to be safe have unwittingly fallen victim to Douglas Copp, and his ”Earthquake Tips". If you took the time to read Copp's advice and you thought it might have some merit, or if you passed it on to anyone else, please read this and pass this back up or down the lines.

Pe site-ul www.cutremur.net se spune privitor la aceleași sfaturi Copp că :

Anumite sfaturi sunt pertinente, dar altele sunt mai mult decat riscante.

Personal, înclin să cred în părerile unor experți autorizați. Cel mai bine este ca fiecare să decidă singur ce este bine și ce este rău de urmat. În contextul dat al posibilității unui cutremur catastrofal în București redau ambele păreri (a doua numai în limba engleză).

Extras din articolul lui Doug Copp despre "Triunghiul vieții", editat de Larry Linn (traducerea nu-mi aparține)

Numele meu este Doug Copp. Sunt seful Salvării si Managerul pentru dezastre al Echipei Americane Internaționale de Salvare (ARTI), cea mai experimentata echipa de salvare. Informațiile din acest articol vor salva vieți in caz de cutremur.

M-am tarat in interiorul a 875 de clădiri prăbușite, am lucrat cu echipe de salvare din 60 de tari, am fondat echipe de salvare in mai multe tari si sunt membru a mai multe echipe de salvare din diferite tari. Am fost Expertul Națiunilor Unite in Micșorarea Dezastrelor (UNX051-UNIENET) timp de doi ani. Am lucrat la fiecare dezastru major din lume din 1985, exceptând dezastrele simultane.

In 1996 am făcut un film care a demonstrat metodologia mea de supraviețuire ca fiind corecta. Guvernul Federal Turc, orașul Istanbul, "Universitatea din Istanbul", Case Productions si ARTI, au cooperat pentru a filma acest test științific.

Am prăbușit o școala si o casa cu 20 de manechini înăuntru. Zece manechini s-au "aplecat si acoperit" si 10 manechini i-am folosit in metoda de supraviețuire "triunghiul vieții". După ce cutremurul simulat a avut loc, am intrat printre dărâmături si am intrat in clădire pentru a filma si a documenta rezultatele. Filmul, in care am practicat tehnicile mele de supraviețuire sub condiții direct observabile si științifice, relevante pentru prăbușirea de clădiri, au arătat ca ar fi fost 0% supraviețuitori pentru metodele cu "aplecat si ascuns". Ar fi fost mai probabil 100% supraviețuire pentru oamenii care ar fi folosit metoda mea, "triunghiul vieții". Acest film a fost văzut de milioane de telespectatori la televiziunea din Turcia si restul Europei si a fost văzut in USA, Canada si America Latina, pe programul TV RealTV.

Prima clădire in care am intrat, a fost o școala in Mexico City, in timpul cutremurului din 1985. Toți copii erau sub băncile lor. Fiecare copil a fost zdrobit pana la grosimea oaselor lor. Ar fi putut supraviețui daca s-ar fi întins jos, lângă băncile lor, pe culoarele dintre bănci. M-am întrebat de ce copiii nu erau pe culoarele dintre bănci. Nu am știut atunci ca acelor copiii l-i s-a spus sa se ascundă sub ceva stabilit dinainte, când clădirile s-au prăbușit, greutatea tavanelor care au căzut pe obiectele de mobilier, le-au zdrobit pe acestea din urma, lăsând un spațiu sau vid lângă ele. Acest spațiu este ceea ce eu numesc "triunghiul vieții". Cu cat obiectul e mai mare, cu atât e mai puternic si se va compacta mai puțin. Cu cat obiectul se va compacta mai puțin, cu atât va fi mai mare vidul (golul) si cu atât mai mare probabilitatea ca persoana care folosește acest gol pentru siguranța nu va fi rănita.

Data viitoare când priviți clădiri prăbușite, numărați "triunghiurile" pe care le vedeți formate. Sunt peste tot. Este cea mai comuna forma pe care o vei vedea intr-o clădire prăbușita. Sunt peste tot. Am antrenat Departamentul de Pompieri din Trujillo (populația de 750.000) cum sa supraviețuiască, sa aibă grija de familiile lor si sa-i salveze pe alții in caz de cutremur.

Seful salvării din Departamentul de Pompieri din Trujillo este profesor la Universitatea Trujillo. M-a însoțit peste tot. Si-a dat declarația personala: "Numele meu este Roberto Rosales. Sunt seful salvării din Trujillo. Când aveam 11 ani, am fost prins înăuntrul unei clădiri prăbușite. Aceasta situație a apărut in timpul cutremurului din 1972, care a omorât 70.000 de oameni. Am supraviețuit in "triunghiul vieții", care a existat lângă motocicleta fratelui meu. Prietenii mei, care au nimerit sub pat si sub mese, au fost zdrobiți si omorați. (da mai multe detalii, nume, adrese, etc.). Sunt exemplul viu al "triunghiului vieții". Prietenii mei sunt exemplul "aplecat si acoperit".

DOUGG COPP sfătuiește:

1) Oricine care pur si simplu "se apleacă si se acoperă" când clădirile se prăbușesc, este zdrobit si ucis. De fiecare data, fără excepție. Oamenii care se pun sub obiecte, ca birouri sau mașini, sunt întotdeauna zdrobiți.

2) Câinii, pisicile si copii mici sunt uneori in mod natural ghemuiți in poziția fetala. Si tu ar trebui sa faci la fel in caz de cutremur. Este un instinct de supraviețuire natural. Poți supraviețui intr-un mic gol. Du-te lângă un obiect, lângă o canapea, lângă un obiect mare si voluminos, care se va comprima intr-o oarecare măsura, dar care va lăsa un gol lângă el.

3) Clădirile din lemn sunt cele mai sigure clădiri in timpul unui cutremur. Motivul este simplu: lemnul este flexibil si se mișca cu forța cutremurului. Daca acea clădire din lemn se prăbușește, sunt create mari goluri de supraviețuire. De asemenea, clădirile din lemn au mai putina greutate concentrata care se poate prăbuși. Clădirile din cărămizi se vor sparge in cărămizi individuale. Cărămizile vor cauza multe răni, dar mai puține trupuri zdrobite decât lespezile din beton.

4) Daca ești in pat, pe timp de noapte si apare un cutremur, pur si simplu rostogolește-te jos din pat. Un vid de siguranța va exista in jurul patului. Hotelurile pot obține o rata mai mare de supraviețuire in cutremure, daca pun un semn pe spatele ușii fiecărei camere, spunându-le ocupanților sa se întindă pe podea, lângă baza patului, in timpul unui cutremur.

5) Daca apare un cutremur in timp ce te uiți la televizor si nu poți scăpa ușor ieșind pe geam sau pe ușa, atunci întinde-te jos si ghemuiește-te in poziție fetala, lângă canapea sau un obiect mare.

6) Toți care se așează sub ușa de la o intrare când clădirea se dărâmă sunt omorâți. Daca stai sub o ușa de la o intrare si tocul ușii cade înainte sau înapoi, vei fi zdrobit de tavanul de deasupra. Daca tocul cade in părți, vei fi tăiat in doua de intrarea ușii. In oricare din cazuri vei fi omorât.

7) Niciodată sa nu mergi la scări. Scările au un moment de frecventa diferit (se leagănă separat de partea principala a clădirii). Scările si restul clădirii se lovesc reciproc in continuu, pana când are loc prăbușirea scărilor. Oamenii care se duc pe scări înainte sa se prăbușească, sunt ciopârțiți de treptele scării. Sunt mutilați oribil. Chiar daca imobilul nu se prăbușește, nu mergeți pe scări. Scările sunt cea mai de așteptat parte a clădirii de a fi avariate. Chiar daca scările nu sunt prăbușite de cutremur, s-ar putea prăbuși mai târziu, când ar putea fi aglomerate cu oameni. Ar trebui întotdeauna sa fie verificate chiar daca restul clădirii nu este avariat.

8) Mergeți lângă zidul exterior al clădirilor sau in afara lor daca este posibil - este mult mai bine sa fi lângă exteriorul unei clădiri decât in interior. Cu cat ești mai in interior fata de perimetrul exterior al clădirii, cu atât este mai mare probabilitatea ca drumul tău de scăpare sa fie blocat.

9) Oamenii din interiorul vehiculelor sunt zdrobiți când șoseaua de deasupra cade intr-un cutremur si le zdrobește vehiculele; ceea ce s-a întâmplat cu lespezile dintre punțile de trecere ale Autostrăzii Nimitz. Victimele cutremurului din San Francisco au stat in interiorul vehiculelor. Au fost toți omorâți. Ar fi putut cu ușurința sa supraviețuiască ieșind afara si întinzându-se lângă vehiculele lor, spune autorul. Toate mașinile zdrobite au avut goluri de aproximativ 1,5 m lângă ele, cu excepția mașinilor care au avut coloane căzute direct peste ele.

10) Am descoperit, in timp ce mă târam înăuntrul unei instituții ziaristice si al altor instituții cu multa hârtie, ca hârtia nu se tasează. Se găsesc goluri mari in jurul teancurilor de hârtie.

Părerea Dr. Marla Petal

Marla Petal, Ph.D. is Director of Bogaziçi University, Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute's Disaster Preparedness Education Program. Her doctoral research is on the causes of deaths in the 1999 Kocaeli Earthquake and implications of these findings for public education. September, 2004
Recently many well-meaning people, wanting to be safe have unwittingly fallen victim to Douglas Copp, and his "Earthquake Tips". If you took the time to read Copp's advice and you thought it might have some merit, or if you passed it on to anyone else, please read this and pass this back up or down the lines. If you haven't, and just want a few good tips for earthquake safety you can skip all the way to #7 and #8.
To refer to these kinds of stories as urban legend is to be excessively charitable. Apparently Copp has fooled and victimized many. Some of them were the good people at the Albuquerque Journal in New Mexico. Some of them were search and rescue volunteers and general public in Turkey. Now some of them are the recipients of Copp's "earthquake tips" circulated on the Internet. Beware of
Copp and his American Rescue Organization. Many of my colleagues have briefly and summarily dismissed him. However, since this advice has been widely circulated among people wanting to protect themselves, family, friends and neighbors, I am compelled to add a detailed response.

In an investigation of more than 15,000 words, a 4 day series of 7 articles July 11-14th, 2004 the Albuquerque Journal more than atones for being briefly taken in by Copp's claim to be "the most experienced rescuer in the world, equipped with the only device that could detect the scent of
decaying flesh" (http://www.abqjournal.com/terror/196540nm07-11-04.htm) The Journal flew Copp to New York on the corporate plane immediately after 9/11. It wasn't until in the air that publisher Lang recognized Copp to be "bogus" and "unprofessional" and later on the ground that he discovered that Copp's "rescue crew" consisted of a video producer, camera operator, filmmaker and archeologist (also taken in by his claims).
According to Albuquerque Journal reporter Leslie Linthicum, in New York Copp promoted an offthe-shelf gas detector with his own sticker slapped on, blackened his face for the camera, freeloaded and lounged in a donated hotel room, failed to check in with the command center, ignored instructions of authorities, and was a shameless self-promoter hawking video to Inside Edition and making claims to having been in 2,000 seriously life-threatening situations and 892 collapsed
buildings. He claimed to have rescued 40 people at ground zero. He claims to be been written up in 50,000 newspapers. Later he managed to collect $649,885 in victim compensation based on claims now being investigated by the Justice Department.
Linthicum dug deeper. Copp claims to have a degree in engineering, be a U.N. expert, and to have video of himself rescuing a 12 year old from the debris of a 1999 earthquake in Turkey. She learned that Copp has no engineering degree but failed an engineering course in university. Phillip Boulle of the U.N. International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction in sworn affidavit says, "Copp hasfraudulently misrepresented himself regarding the United Nations". The video from Turkey? The translator for the French rescue team "Secouristes Sans Frontieres" whose operations he apparently insinuated himself into says, "that's not possible". Already discredited amongst professional urban search and rescue teams, none of Copp's multitude of claims of leading search and rescue efforts
and saving lives, spending hours underground could be substantiated.
In case you don't have time to read all of Linthicum's articles, I think it fair to summarize that she tracked sources across the country and across the world. The pithiest quotes:
•NY Fire Dept Chief John Normal, in charge of the rescue and recovery effort calls Copp's claims of heroism at ground zero "a fraud" and "a bald-faced liar".
•Chase Sargent, Virginia Beach VA fire battalion chief and FEMA task force member "Anybody who's legitimate in this business knows who this knucklehead is"
•T. H. Lang, publisher of Albuquerque Journal - began to detect that Copp's story "sounded arrogant, braggadocio. It was astoundingly preposterous."
•Stephen Lentz, New Mexico Archeologist was writing a screenplay about Copp, but says "he didn't do anything", that he "blackened his face by rubbing soot on it, so he would look like he had been in a dangerous place". Lentz now likens him to a circus promoter and says, "I think basically he was a fraud and a bombast".
•Ron Hadani, volunteer who Copp said would vouch for him said of what he observed, "it was not serious rescue work"
According to Linthicum in the Albuquerque Journal, Copp now claims that among his debilitating physical ailments are swelling of the brain and immune problems that affect his thinking. That should be enough to dismiss him. But to be fair, Copp's earthquake tips actually pre-date the recent evidence of compromised brain function.

No less gullible than the rest Turkish rescue volunteers of AKUT and many others in the media gravitated to Copp's sensationalist claims. In Turkey, following the devastating 1999 Kocaeli earthquake, this led to disinformation on a massive scale. Based on Copp's so-called "evidence", mass media outlets publicized the advice to "get down next to a refrigerator", "get out of your car and get down by it", "assume a fetal position" and "make a big box of books or newspaper" to
crouch down next to in case of earthquake.
For those of us who are researchers and public educators in the field of earthquake mitigation and preparedness, Copp's advice is plainly dangerous. But now that Doug Copp has gotten your attention about earthquake safety, I'd like to address some of the claims he makes that may have piqued your curiosity - because it's always good to hone our ability to think critically - and there are
things you can and should do to be safer from earthquakes.

Yes, Copp is correct that there are places that after a building collapse are called "triangles of life". These "life safe voids" are the first places that search and rescue workers look for survivors. It's generally true that the larger the object and stronger the less it will compact. But don't be fooled. The force of earthquakes moves large and heavy objects. We don't know a) whether it is possible toanticipate where the life safe voids will be before the collapse, and b) whether it is possible to get there during the strong shaking of an earthquake. What we don't know in advance (but is worthy of research) is the expected collapse patterns in particular buildings or where these life safe voids will be when the shaking stops. If your building tilts in one direction, the "large and heavy object" that you are near, could crush you against the wall....
Copp says "People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles" and that in the Loma Prieta earthquake everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them, because of the lifesafe void nearby. The problem is similar: observing a crushed car with a life safe void next to it doesn't mean much. The car itself may have moved after the shaking started. There is a lot of evidence of cars and truck overturning in strong shaking. If everyone got out of their cars and got down next to them, a lot of people would be dead or seriously injured from the weight of the car jumping or sliding on them.
Copp likes to base his evidence on the Turkish "experiment" that he was involved with. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to all involved, this was not an experiment at all, but rather a voluntary organization's search and rescue exercise. My colleagues in Turkey corroborate that a building scheduled for demolition was used as a search and rescue training opportunity. They did decide to put the mannequins in different spots to see what would happen. And indeed they reported finding mannequins unharmed next to large and heavy objects.
What is the problem with this? Simply this: To collapse the building, they tied ropes around the columns and yanked them out, causing the building to pancake. They did NOT simulate an earthquake. Earthquakes come in waves. They cause lateral shaking. They cause a variety of different kinds of damage. Since this experiment didn't produce anything resembling shaking it really doesn't tell us anything at all about what would happen during an earthquake. It could be that the large and heavy furniture would end up at the other end of the room, nowhere near where it
began. Assuming even for a moment that an experiment could be done to support the hypothesis, the reality is that the particular results from a pancake collapse, while certainly the most fatal, represents the least common type of reinforced concrete building collapse. There are at least 4 other major types of collapse. Less than 3% of damaged buildings in the Kocaeli earthquake were pancaked. So these results would tell us precious little about what might happen to people in all the
other buildings... the other 97% of damaged buildings as well as the many undamaged buildings.
Formulating the questions in order to advise EVERYONE about what to do when the shaking starts is much more complex than the evidence in front of Copp's eyes.

Search and rescue workers desperately want to save lives. In reality, worldwide their experience is of bringing out at least 98 dead bodies to 2 live ones. Some would like to turn the one life they
saved into a cautionary anecdote for the other millions of people who were potential victims. There is a place for these stories, but extrapolating to the millions is not scientific. It really doesn't matter if one or if ten people are found alive next to a refrigerator, unless you look at 100 or 1,000 refrigerators after an earthquake to see what might have happened to people who might have been near them at the time of the shaking. When you give advice to people about what to do during an earthquake, you are basically advising everyone who feels the shaking.
In Kocaeli we would have loved to be able to advise the 20,000 who died so that even a few lives could be saved. But remember that in order to save any of them, we would have to advise all 15,000,000 people who felt the shaking and were in a position to take some action. Suppose that our advice could save 1,000 people from death in pancaked buildings (highly unlikely) but if it also put 0.00007 percent of all the people who felt the shaking at risk of death and serious injury we would have done more harm than good. In other words, the behavior that Copp thinks may save someone in a particular collapsed building may put them at MORE risk in other collapsed or non-collapsed buildings.
When I show Californians pictures from Turkish publications with people crouched down next to refrigerators and kitchen counters, instead of under the nearby kitchen table, their jaws drop in horror. Obviously these people are in danger from the refrigerator sliding and toppling and emptying its contents, the hot things on the stove, the appliances on the counter and the packed contents of the cabinets overhead. Obviously they should be under the kitchen table, or outside the kitchen door. But this is exactly the lunacy that these kinds of "I found one person alive here" anecdotes can lead to. Some people in Turkey will die in the next earthquake because of this.
Having said that, most of my scientific colleagues and I have come to the uneasy compromise that IF people are occupying a self-built adobe structure with a heavy roof, and with no seismic-resistant design measures, and if they are on the ground floor and can run out quickly to a safe and open place outside, they should do so when the shaking begins. Otherwise, they should still drop, cover and hold on. Adobe collapses are much more survivable when the roofing is of lightweight material.
But the reality is that protection from earthquake deaths takes place way before the shaking begins. It will take a lot of well-designed research to learn if there is, in fact, ANY behavior that is better than luck in saving someone from a building collapse, and that can be guaranteed not to endanger more people than it helps! As with other helping efforts: "First, do no harm."

Copp makes lots of outrageous claims for which there is no research, like "Everyone who simply "ducks and covers" WHEN BUILDINGS COLLAPSE is crushed to death -- Every time, without exception." "Everybody who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed." At best these
are extreme statements that are hypotheses to be tested. It would be great for search and rescue workers and social science researchers to get together to investigate hypotheses like these.
Copp also says "Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them If Possible...because of the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked." There is no evidence of this. A contrary hypothesis suggests that especially in concrete building with infill tile walls, the tiles fall out and so could you. This is also a good subject for research, but at present it's nothing more than an untested hypothesis.
Please understand that even the best scientific methods don't always provide perfect or even helpful results. Nevertheless, scientific methods should be used to investigate our hunches. There are many important questions that we haven't begun to answer - but absolute claims like this are just total rubbish and no substitute.

Copp recommends the "fetal position" in order to "survive in a smaller void". The idea of being small is fine. Getting down low prevents falling injuries, and making yourself a smaller target means there is less to be hit. However, when we tried this informally in Turkey on an earthquake simulation shake table, the "curled up in a ball" fetal position made us prone to rolling around. This didn't actually feel safe to us. What felt much safer was to get down as low as possible on our knees and shins so that we had some control over our movements and could still crawl to a more secure place.
Indications from research in Kocaeli is that Copp may be right in his advice to get down "next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it." Many Kocaeli survivors would agree that this would have been both possible and safe in that earthquake. This is a good hypothesis that should be further investigated.
Copp says "Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake."
He's right... They're also the worst in case of fire after an earthquake. So while we those in wooden homes can take some comfort, be prepared to put out fires when they are still small with fire extinguishers and blankets.
Copp says "If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed." Actually, the safest people in earthquakes in both California and Turkey were those who stayed in bed. If the building tilts and the bed moves... the foot of the bed probably isn't the best place to be. Copp says that he "discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact." Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper. This might be good information for the grocery store, but only if the shelves are bolted to the floor or ceiling. Frankly if you live in a building that you think is a collapse risk, ethically the only good advice is to suggest that you to find another place to live, rather than to rely on a pile of paper or a container of books in every room to save your life. This may seem pathetic, but at least 3 different publications in Turkey have photos of people crouching down next to enormous containers of paper products in the middle of their living rooms. Let's get real - our job is to live with earthquakes. This kind of advice makes the tasks of public education and preparedness harder than it already is.
Copp's one piece of good advice: "Never go to the stairs." That, as it happens, is sound advice.

•Think through personal scenarios in the places you live and work. What spots seem safer than others?
•Make your environment safer by fastening tall and heavy furniture and audiovisual equipment, Move heavy objects down low.
•Keep shoes and flashlight by your bed.
•During the shaking, drop down to the ground. Cover your head and neck. Hold on to your cover or something stable.
Why do we persist in saying these things? What is the proof? Research into the causes of deaths and injuries in several countries has now shown several important patterns: a) Fatalities are almost always associated with head, neck and chest injuries. These are the most vulnerable areas of the body that need to be protected. b) Many injuries are caused by falling. If you get down yourself, or brace yourself, you can avoid falling. c) A huge proportion of night time injuries are to feet and legs... even in places with minor damage.... picture frame on floor, no shoes, no lights, parents/children trying to find each other in the dark.... d) At least half of all injuries are from nonstructural objects. Many of these injuries are serious, made more so by the intense demand on limited medical resources. We can't be complacent about any unnecessary injuries when limited medical resources will be needed to save lives. e) The smaller target you present to falling objects the less chance there is of something hitting you.

Urban earthquake mitigation requires all of us to be involved in three major activities: assessment and planning, reducing our physical risks, and developing our ability to respond.
(Think and act now.)
•Sit down with your family and discuss possible scenarios.
•Decide on meeting places inside and outside of your neighbourhood.
•Identify an "out-of-area contact" for quicker communication and peace of mind.
•Designate others nearby to pick up your child from school in case of emergency, and make a meeting plan with them.
(Take measures to reduce your physical risks.)
•If you aren't sure about the structural soundness of you home, workplace or school, have it assessed by a qualified engineer.
•Retrofit where possible. Move out, and tear down where not possible.
•Fasten large and heavy furniture.
•Secure water heaters.
•Have a fire extinguisher on each floor and have it serviced regularly.
(Be ready to be part of the solution.)
•Have enough water, food, and prescription medications for a week.
•Keep a first aid kit.
•Check your "Go Bag" in your car and by your door.
Disaster preparedness is not accomplished overnight. It takes place in a series of small steps taken at home, at work, at school, in your neighborhood and in your region. It is accomplished by actions by individuals, families, organizations, institutions, and government.
The 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake is not far away. This is a good time to make yourself a promise, and take one of these small steps today.

Albuquerque Journal (2004) July 11, 12, 13, 14. Online at
American Red Cross (2004) American Red Cross response to "Triangle of Life" by Doug Copp.
Online at http://www2.bpaonline.org/Emergencyprep/arc-on-doug-copp.html).
Associated Press (2004) July 12. Online at
http://cms.firehouse.com/content/article/article.jsp?sectionId=41&id=32725 and
Petal, Marla (2004) Urban Disaster Mitigation and Preparedness: The 1999 Kocaeli Earthquake,
doctoral dissertation, Department of Urban Planning, UCLA.
State of California, Governor's Office of Emergency Services, (2004) Sept. 7. Memorandum to
Operational Area Coordinators. Subject: Duck, Cover and Hold Procedure

2 martie 2009

Internetul si bilețelele Sfântului Anton

Înainte de Era digitală multe mesaje rămâneau într-un cerc restrâns de auditori sau cititori. Printre acestea îmi amintesc din copilărie de bilețelele Sfântului Anton pe care le găseai în cutiile poștale. Invariabil scrise de mână cu creion chimic, pentru a rezista la eventuala expunere la intemperii, cu o ortografie ce denota cel mult o alfabetizare recentă, bilețelele te îndemnau la penitență și rugăciuni pentru iertarea păcatelor. Represiunea era cruntă, un val de nenorociri urma să se abată asupra celui care nu asculta de ordinele din bilet.

Apoi au apărut scrisorile nigeriene. Autorii te anunță sunt ”moștenitori” în Nigeria, ai unor sume de zeci de milioane de dolari, de regulă delapidate, și poți beneficia de 30-40% din sumă dacă le pui la dispoziție un cont bancar. Finalul este escrocarea celor lacomi de câștig ușor care intră în joc. Puțini știu că veneau și la noi prin poștă astfel de scrisori încă de prin anii 1984-1985. După 1990 au fost și câțiva români care au plătit scump intrarea în acest tip de corespondență.

Era digitală face ca acum acest gen de mesaje să fie difuzate la scară mondiala datorita unui avantaj intrinsec al e-mailului care se transformă astfel și în dezavantaj. E-mailuri de acest tip cu fișiere atașate de sute de kilobaiti până la câțiva megabaiți se pot multiplica pe o schemă piramidala si bloca rețelele digitale mai puțin performante.

În general se folosește pentru acest tip de e-mail denumirea de hoax. Traducerea oferită de dicționare pentru hoax este farsă sau păcăleală. Nu totdeauna un hoax (se pronunță houks) este numai farsă sau păcăleală, ambele cuvinte în limba română având sens în care lipsește nocivitatea și pericolul. Omniprezența Internet face din multe dintre mesajele de acest tip ceva foarte nociv. În plus mesajele hoax fac parte din categoria de spam, adică mesaje nesolicitate de destinatar.

Mă voi opri numai asupra două tipuri de mesaje e-mail: scrisorile nigeriene și scrisorile moralizatoare. Nocivitatea scrisorilor nigeriene a fost expusă pe larg în mediul Internet și în majoritate a cazurilor aplicațiile anti-spam le opresc. Inventivitatea autorilor acestor mesaje este debordantă. De la Nigeria au ajuns în Coasta de Fildeș, apoi au devenit rude ale lui Sadam Hussein sau Pinochet. În urmă cu ceva timp am urmărit un documentar pe Discovery Channel și am rămas uimit să aflu că în Marea Britanie cam 2% din cei care primesc acest gen de scrisori răspund și cei mai mulți pierd sute până la zeci de mii de lire sterline. Numai este de mult un secret, dar este bine de reamintit. Cum spun americanii ”there is no free lunch”. Indiferent de formă scrisorile nigeriene sunt o escrocherie, care exploatează credulitatea și lăcomia.

Al doilea tip de mesaje din ce în ce mai răspândit în ultima vreme sunt scrisori care conțin prezentări de tip Powerpoint cu imagini și muzică din cele mai frumoase. Prezentări bogate în megabaiți care se transmit și ele piramidal.

Cel mai puțin nocive sunt cele de promovare turistică. Singura obiecție ce le poate fi adusă este că fișierul atașat ar putea fi pus undeva pe web, de exemplu cu o aplicație Google Photo sau alta similară, și trimis destinatarului numai un link pentru a descărca fișierul numai dacă dorește.

Altele conțin texte moralizatoare cu inspirație creștină, budistă, musulmană sau a altor religii sau crezuri. Dalai Lama este la modă și el. Provin de pe toate meridianele traduse sau nu în limba română. Spre deosebire de bilețelele Sfântului Anton finalul acestor mesaje nu promite nenorociri dacă nu le multiplici, ci fericirea în funcție de … numărul celor care le vor primi de la tine. Pentru vorbitorii de franceză citez dintr-un astfel de mesaj ”Envoyez ceci à au moins 5 personnes et votre vie s’améliorera. 0-4 personnes: Votre vie s’améliorera légèrement. 5-9 personnes: Votre vie prendra la tournure que vous voulez. 9-14 personnes: Vous aurez au moins 5 surprises dans les 3 prochaines semaines. 15 et plus: Votre vie changera drastiquement!!” Autorul cuantifică fericirea în sistem zecimal! Trimiți e-mailul la 15 persoane și ai scăpat de griji … :-)

Mai grave sunt textele care conțin profeții și cele mai multe se referă la sfârșitul lumii. Unul primit de mine recent este bazat pe teoria conspirației și ne spune ce "ascunde" Vaticanul privind sfârșitul lumii : un cataclism nuclear în anul 2012 prezis la Fatima. Privind conținutul mesajului în sine pot spune că mă preocupă de mai mulți ani științele ezoterice și am citit câte ceva în această direcție. O comunicare a mea la o sesiune științifică recentă amintește chiar de accelerarea descoperirilor științifice si apropierea de punctul Omega, punct în care ... o luăm de la început. Mă refer la Internet al cărui punct Omega este prezis de unii chiar în fatidicul 2012. Opinia mea este ca forțele de frânare fac ca aceasta accelerare să ne ducă la Omega Point numai teoretic. O forță de frânare majoră este educația care nu pătrunde în mase așa de ușor cum pătrund tehnologiile. Mai pe larg pentru cei interesați de subiect în cartea profesorului american Frank Tipler "Fizica nemuririi" apăruta și la noi în Editura Tehnica în 2008. Nu știu dacă pot fi de acord cu el fiind greu de urmărit demonstrația dacă nu ești fizician. Dar oricum este mai "optimist" decât profețiile de la Fatima, demonstrând "științific" viața de apoi.

În final, câteva păreri.

Dacă e-mailul primit are un text sau fișier cu calități artistice, științifice sau turistice trimiteți-l mai departe. Veți face și pe alții părtași la o bucurie aleasă. Dacă știți și puteți să folosiți cloud computing trimiteți numai un link cu adresa unde ați pus prezentarea/textul respectiv. Dacă nu este acceptabil să faceți forward. Dar nu uitați că este posibil ca dacă ați menționat zeci de adrese, e-mailul să fie considerat spam. În plus unele aplicații de mail nu permit fișiere atașate mai mari de 10 megabaiți.

Dacă e-mailul este din categoria textelor moralizatoare de tip piramidal nu-l trimiteți decât celor care știți că le acceptă. Cei mai mulți sunt prieteni și le va fi greu să vă spună să nu le mai trimiteți. O soluție ar fi în acest caz să trimiteți numai celor care vă trimit și ei, sau eventual vă răspund cu comentarii care nu presupun respingerea tipului de mail respectiv. Oricum nu trimiteți acest gen de mesaje pe liste de mail. Unii participanți la liste pot fi nemulțumiți. Nu le postați pe intranetul firmei sau organizației dacă politica acesteia nu vă permite.