User Generated Public Safety

Today our first thought should be to send our help to our Pacific Rim neighbors who are suffering from devastating earthquakes. The Red Cross has set up relief efforts for both Japan and New Zealand. You can help here.

But our second thought should be to renew our own commitment to safeguarding our families, our neighborhoods and our city when it is our turn. And the data is clear – there is a 63% likelihood of a major earthquake striking the San Francisco Bay Area in the next two decades.

There is so much more that government can do. But what can we do? This is a community dedicated to User Generated Government. That can include User Generated Public Safety.

Here’s a page the City of San Francisco has already coded – full of useful information on how to prepare ourselves for major disasters. It is a good start. But sometimes, horrific events like the earthquake and tsunami in Japan happen so quickly that we simply have no warning.

72 Hours - San Francisco Public Safety

As San Franciscans, we are well aware of just how devastating earthquakes can be. From the great earthquake and fire of 1906 to Loma Prieta in 1989, the dangers are never far from our minds. And the events in Japan should remind us that we can never be lulled into a false sense of safety when living in the Pacific Rim of Fire.

Following the guidelines on, San Franciscans should do all they can to be prepared wherever they are should disaster strike. But we should also keep in mind that we can always do more to be prepared. Tell us what your best ideas for disaster preparedness are and how The City can be more in tune to enhance public safety during a disaster.

One main difference between disasters that occur today as opposed to 1989 or even 1906 is the availability and dispersion of information online. Incredible footage of the events in Japan have already been put online here and as we’ve seen in other major recent world events, Twitter is playing an integral role in discovering and relaying information. Within just about an hour of the earthquake striking Japan, there were nearly 1,200 Tweets per minute coming from Tokyo.

It’s in part because of this readily available information that San Francisco was able to act so swiftly to take precautions like warning people to stay away from low-lying areas and closing the upper and lower Great Highway from Point Lobos and 48th Avenue to Lake Merced while also closing Ocean Beach, Baker Beach, China Beach and Fort Funston. But as citizens, we cannot simply depend on government to do everything during a disaster – we must take it upon ourselves to ensure our safety and the safety of our neighbors.

The tools of safety preparedness are available with the click of the mouse and today of all days should be a reminder to enact them in our own lives.

And, in the days ahead we should talk about what else we can do. But let’s start by renewing our commitment to making sure we are all prepared at home and work. Share your thoughts, comments and helpful links by logging in and commenting below.

Phil Ting's picture

Prepared for the Unexpected

A few years ago, my wife brought home three red backpacks filled with stuff.  I thought she had gone on a shopping spree, but really she had been inspired by her NERT training and wanted to make sure our family was prepared for a natural disaster.  The backpacks had food, water, first aid and other supplies you'd need in a pinch.  While it felt a little like preparing for a camping trip, it was good to know we could survive for 72 hours before anyone could get to us.  We take water and food for granted until we dont have access to it.  Please go to and be prepared.

adpostal's picture

Safety First

This is such an important post! The reality of living in California, and especially the Bay Area, is that we have earthquakes from time to time, and we need to be prepared.  Earthquake preparation can fall off of people's radar, since people are not thinking about earthquakes every single day.  But when they do strike, San Franciscans need to be self-sufficient. This means having food, water, and ways of contacting our loved ones.  Using smart phones and the internet to communicate often makes the last item on this list easier.  My heart truly goes out to all those in Japan, and hopefully this is a wake-up call for Californians to realize that earthquakes can't be predicted, strike randomly, and that it is never too late to be prepared.

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137