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With sights set on advancing individual and community resilience, Global Resilience Institute Director visits Facebook in Menlo Park

GRI Founding Director Dr. Stephen Flynn and Facebook Head of Resiliency Gil Grein
GRI Founding Director Dr. Stephen Flynn and Facebook Head of Resiliency Gil Grein

At the invitation of Facebook’s Head of Global Resiliency Gil Grein, Global Resilience Institute (GRI) Founding Director Dr. Stephen Flynn and Sr. Research Scientist Rob Knake visited Facebook’s Global Offices in Menlo Park.

Grein leads Facebook’s global resiliency efforts, which he began establishing at the company in 2014. Among the programs that he oversees are; Strategic Emergency Management, Global Crisis Management, Global Business Continuity, Data Centers Resiliency, Executive Resiliency, Resiliency Operations and Logistics, and Workplace Violence Management.

The April 16 visit included a briefing on Facebook’s new tools for supporting individuals and communities in managing crises.  These include the “Safety Check” feature for individuals near an incident such as an earthquake, a hurricane, or shooting, to let their friends and family know they are safe; the “Community Help API” which gives disaster response organizations access to Community Help data, offering important information about the needs of people affected by crises so that they can respond; and a “Blood Donations” app that helps to connect requests for blood donations of a certain type in a certain location with nearby donors that qualify.

Facebook’s Community Help tool was used by people in more than 500 different crises in 2017, including during the flooding in Brazil (May), Hurricane Harvey in the US (August), the attack in Barcelona (August), the flooding in Mumbai (August) and the earthquake in Central Mexico (September).

“Our priority is to build tools that help keep people safe and provide them with ways to get the help they need to recover and rebuild after a crisis,” Asha Sharma, Facebook Product Lead, Social Good, wrote in a company blog post in February.

During the Menlo Park meeting this week, Dr. Flynn and Grein also discussed potential areas where GRI, the GRRN, and Facebook might collaborate on advancing individual and community resilience. Grein recently attended the inaugural summit for the Global Resilience Research Network (GRRN) hosted by GRI in Boston, and participated in a dinner discussion on Crime, Terrorism, and Community Resilience.

GRI Founding Director Dr. Stephen Flynn and Sr. Research Scientist Rob Knake visit Facebook's Global HQ in Menlo Park
GRI Founding Director Dr. Stephen Flynn and Sr. Research Scientist Rob Knake visit Facebook’s Global HQ in Menlo Park


The summit took place on March 29, and brought together leading resilience experts from 20 major universities and research institutions from 14 countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America. Distinguished practitioners with experience from the front lines of managing some of the 21st century’s most catastrophic disasters shared powerful stories, reinforcing the urgent need for developing new resilience-building tools, applications, and skills.

This network, founded by GRI, provides a forum for collaboration on resilience-building efforts, and supports the sharing of resilience tools, applications, skills, and best practices to facilitate their rapid and widespread adoption worldwide.

To learn more about the GRRN visit GRRNSummit.org