Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Versatility of the Life Cube Platform

By Mary Schnack, Crisis Communications Specialist

When I first heard about Life Cube, I was impressed with its concept—durable shelter, quick to deploy.
I was in a Rwanda refugee camp in 1993 in neighboring Burundi, when all people had were blue tarps that had been distributed during this emergency. I was so in Sierra Leone refugee camps in Guinea in 1995. These were camps that had been there for a longer period and time. There was a school for the children and nice grass huts had been built for shelter. It was like a Ritz Carlton compared to the Rwanda camps.

So I do have a somewhat first-hand knowledge about the needs of shelter during disasters. But the more I learned about Life Cube and talked to others who have worked in disasters, the more I learned about how such shelters are needed.
­I imagined these being used as shelters for those who didn’t have homes, such as the people in Joplin after the tornado, in New Orleans after Katrina or in the refuge camps in Africa.

However, I have learned there are other much needed uses for this type of shelter. The versatility of the Life Cube platform beyond being a shelter for those homeless is also important. Humanitarian aid workers are generally going into areas where this is nothing. They need a place to hang their hat, put out their shingle.

Faye Coleman, President of Westover Consulting, had a contract to provide counseling services after the Katrina Hurricane in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. “We could have used a shelter like that to hold our sessions,” she said. “There were no offices, no homes, no where to meet that people might find comfortable enough to really talk.”

After Katrina, businesses as diverse as the Verizon store, Sempra Energy, Burger King—all were ready to get back into business, but had no “shelter” to operate out of. Life Cube can also help businesses get back to work more quickly—which helps re-establish a community and local economy.

Hospitals can use such a shelter for triage—of patients AND staff and volunteers. Life Cube set up a shelter a few days after the tornado in Joplin, MO, in the St. Johns Hospital parking lot for that purpose and hospital administration was impressed with its effectiveness.

It makes sense—workers go to a disaster site to work—and where do they set up? Where do they get people out of the elements? Where do they process paperwork? Have team meetings? Log where volunteers and workers are deployed?

Life Cube is listening as well as it goes to shows and demonstrations around the world. They are listening to what people who work in these environments want and need, and are creating new designs based around the Life Cube concept to meet these needs.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Life Cube Releases QuietGuide®

By Michael Conner, President, Life Cube, Inc.

We recently partnered with Visual Travel Tours to create a QuietGuide® for easy Life Cube set up.

Life Cube is not as simple to set up as your camping tent, but it is amazingly easy, especially with the new QuietGuide®.

This is the first time that Visual Travel Tours has used their QuietGuide® for humanitarian use and in the few short weeks since the partnership arose, our QuietGuide® has received an outpouring of positive feedback from government and independent aid organizations worldwide.  The QuietGuied® was demonstrated at the premiere emergency preparedness conference at the United Nations in Geneva in May, 2011.

Visual Travel Tours’ QuietGuide® has predominantly been used for travel guides. But it can enable companies in multiple industries, in any location, to create and distribute graphic-rich eBooks and training documents to mobile users. Users can edit, upload, and embed graphics without any desktop word processing applications. The format is “mobile-friendly” and can be uploaded and viewed on virtually any device that has a PDF reader including computers, smartphones, and tablets.             

Using Life Cube’s QuietGuide®, anyone, anywhere can download the instructions to the Life Cube and inflate the shelter in 5 minutes, without any previous experience or knowledge. This advancement is beneficial for those facing any disaster, and makes Life Cube a survival tool truly accessible to all.

Life Cube’s QuietGuide® can be downloaded for FREE from any device with a PDF reader at:

Friday, June 3, 2011

Life Cube Goes Global in May

By Michael Conner, President, Life Cube, Inc.

We had a whirlwind month in May—(and no pun intended, with the tornados).  The global community is definitely getting to know Life Cube.

The United Nations invited us to the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in Geneva, where we had the opportunity to showcase Life Cube to more than 180 countries. We were one of only four companies with products at this invitation-only event. We got an extremely positive response from delegates from the UN and NGOs. We were offered a pilot program with the United Nations to use Life Cube for command posts and offices. This is exciting—and I’ll have more on that in a future blog.

Then we were in Madrid, MO (yes, before the devastating Joplin, MO, tornado hit) for FEMA’s National Level Exercise (NLE), the largest functional exercise of its kind undertaken in about 20 years.  The simulation was of a 7.7 magnitude earthquake because 200 years ago there were devastating earthquakes that rolled through this area and of course, the fault lines are still there. It was the first NLE to focus on a natural hazard scenario. Life Cube was an active part of the exercise.

Then after a quick trip to New Orleans for the Rotary International show where we again got a tremendous response, we headed back to Missouri to Joplin after their devastating tornado and set up a Life Cube in the parking lot of St. John’s Mercy Hospital, which was destroyed in the tornado.

This would be one of our ultimate uses--to set up as a temporary new hospital for one that has been damaged or is overflowing. This is the type of information that we are getting out there about Life Cube as we show up around the globe to demonstrate it. We were there several days after the tornado hit, and St. John's used the Life Cube as a processing center for RNs and MDs coming to work.

This is why it is so important to get the word out on Life Cube—so we can be deployed to the sites much more quickly.

And we are proud that Life Cube employees volunteered their time in the relief effort at Joplin. We assisted Samaritans Purse to clear debris from homeowners' properties and help them find their precious treasures in the rubble. These are the first steps in rebuilding their lives. Life Cube is honored to be able to assist in this time of need.