Air Force Academy Cadets Meet Madeleine Albright

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Virtual Badge™ technology used to survey West Palm Beach businesses

S Air Force Academy cadets concluded their first research visit to West Palm Beach by being formally recognized by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright at the Forum Club luncheon on February 27th.

The team of cadets recently performed more than 100 field-based surveys in a short period of time, interviewing local businesses and using Virtual Badge™ technology to collect and geocode business continuity and disaster preparedness information.

Virtual Badge™, LLC, a local technology firm based in downtown West Palm Beach has created a system that uses smart phones with custom-designed software to ensure that business owners, and their employees, are able to continue their work during a disaster, or shortly after. Virtual Badge™ can be used by disaster relief groups and managers to collect photographs and other critical data that is time-date stamped and geo-located even when cell phone towers are non-existent. The joint research project aims to establish a template to promote small business recovery for communities nationwide.

While the focus of the research is on small business recovery, the cadets also met with community leaders from the government and large businesses. The 2-person cadet teams held extremely productive meetings with political leaders such as Mayor Jeri Muoio and business leadership such as the CEO of St. Mary’s Hospital, the CEO of The Breakers Hotel, and Good Samaritan Hospital. They also met with county and governmental leadership, as well as directors of Palm Beach and West Palm Beach Chambers of Commerce.

Emergency management personnel also provided key insights on preparedness and recovery through visits with the Town of Palm Beach Fire-Rescue Department, Darrel Donatto Deputy Chief, and Brian Fuller, Division Chief.

The cadets were also engaged with businesses in the major retail and restaurant districts of West Palm Beach, including Worth Ave., City Place as well as conducting spontaneous interviews with local businesses and tourists alike using Virtual Badge™ to document their field-based research.

As an added bonus to the community, the cadets were collecting travel time data for employees and customers that is applicable to the unexpected, long term, north bridge closure. This survey data will be useful in evaluating the economic impact of the loss of this major access point to the island.

This visit by the Air Force Academy is the start to a successful multi-year project with the cadets and Virtual Badge™.

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Matthew Campbell
Disaster Solutions
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