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Science and Technology Sampler:
NIST Highlights from 2013 (page 2)

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aerial image of Joplin, MO tornado damage
The multiple-vortex storm impacted an area 35 kilometers (22 miles) long and destroyed some 8,000 structures in its path. Click on the image to get full-size version.
Aerial image © 2011 GeoEye. Building footprint data Pictometry®. Used with permission. Enhancements by NIST.
high resolution version

Contributions to Public Safety

Tornadoes, wildfires, high-rise fires, and laser pointers are among the safety hazards that came under the careful eye of NIST scientists and engineers in 2013. The results of NIST disaster studies and safety research provide impartial technical guidance for standards, building codes, best practices, and other tools for protecting lives and property. These examples illustrate how.

•  Nationally accepted standards for building design and construction, public shelters and emergency communications can significantly reduce deaths and the steep economic costs of property damage caused by tornadoes. That is the key conclusion of NIST’s two-year technical investigation into the impacts of the May 2011 tornado that struck Joplin, Mo.

•  NIST and the U.S. Forest Service created the first-ever hazard scale that links assessments of risk from wildland fires to improved building codes and standards that will help communities better resist the threat.
Wildland Ember Exposure on a Community Using the WUI Fire Hazard Scale.
Credit: Alex Maranghides/NIST

•  Results of a NIST-led study will result in better-informed policy and operational decisions influencing levels of staffing and other resources available for responding to high-rise fires—decisions now confronting hundreds of communities across the country.

•  NIST researchers found that nearly 90 percent of the green laser pointers and about 44 percent of red pointers they tested were out of compliance with federal safety regulations.

Three Organizations Selected for 2013 Baldrige Awards

Two hospitals and a small Wisconsin school district joined an elite club of organizations: winners of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The award is the nation’s highest Presidential honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership. They were selected from a field of 22 applicants that were evaluated rigorously by an independent board of examiners in seven areas defined by the Baldrige Criteria: leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; operations focus; and results.

Developing a Cybersecurity Framework to Protect U.S. Critical Infrastructure

NIST released on Oct. 22 its Preliminary Cybersecurity Framework to help critical infrastructure owners and operators reduce cybersecurity risks in industries such as power generation, transportation and telecommunications. After a 45-day public comment period on the Preliminary Framework, NIST plans to issue the official framework in February 2014, as called for in Executive Order 13636—Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity.

NIST Readies Tests for DARPA Robotics Challenge

This Dec. 20-21, research teams from around the world will be competing in the trials of the DARPA Robotics Challenge— a mock-up of a disaster scenario prompted by Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown and distilled into standardized performance tests by NIST robotics researchers.

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