Subscription-Based Intermediate Short-Term Emergency Shelter Method

One provides (101, 102) a short-term emergency shelter, wherein the short-term emergency shelter is configured and arranged to provide only temporary interim shelter during a window of clear and present threat exposure temporally proximal to an event. Consideration-based private civil security subscriptions are then accepted (102) from subscribers with respect to providing event-based access to the short-term emergency shelter. If desired, emergency survival items may also be provided (105) in the short-term emergency shelter. The shelter can be maintained (106) pending a need to permit subscription-based access to the secure short-term emergency shelter upon occurrence of the event, and an attendant may be provided (108) to assist with the maintenance and security of the shelter and its contents. Adjustments to the emergency survival items may also be made (107) to reflect dynamically changing circumstances as occur during the consideration-based private civil security subscription.

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Description

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This comprises a continuation-in-part of:

SUBSCRIPTION-BASED PRIVATE CIVIL SECURITY FACILITATION METHOD as filed on Mar. 17, 2006 and having application Ser. No. 11/384,037;

SUBSCRIPTION-BASED CATASTROPHE-TRIGGERED MEDICAL SERVICES FACILITATION METHOD as filed on Mar. 30, 2006 and having application Ser. No. 11/394,350;

PERSONAL PROFILE-BASED PRIVATE CIVIL SECURITY SUBSCRIPTION METHOD as filed on Apr. 11, 2006 and having application Ser. No. 11/279,333;

RADIATION SHELTER KIT APPARATUS AND METHOD as filed on Apr. 24, 2006 and having application Ser. No. 11/379,929;

FRACTIONALLY-POSSESSED UNDERGROUND SHELTER METHOD AND APPARATUS as filed on May 2, 2006 and having application Ser. No. 11/381,247;

SUBSCRIPTION-BASED CATASTROPHE-TRIGGERED TRANSPORT SERVICES FACILITATION METHOD AND APPARATUS as filed on May 2, 2006 and having application Ser. No. 11/381,257;

SUBSCRIPTION-BASED MULTI-PERSON EMERGENCY SHELTER METHOD as filed on May 2, 2006 and having application Ser. No. 11/381,265;

SUBSCRIPTION-BASED CATASTROPHE-TRIGGERED RESCUE SERVICES FACILITATION METHOD AND APPARATUS as filed on May 2, 2006 and having application Ser. No. 11/381,277;

DOCUMENT-BASED CIVILLY-CATASTROPHIC EVENT PERSONAL ACTION GUIDE FACILITATION METHOD as filed on May 12, 2006 and having application Ser. No. 11/383,022;

RESCUE CONTAINER METHOD AND APPARATUS as filed on May 26, 2006 and having application Ser. No. 11/420,594;

PURCHASE OPTION-BASED EMERGENCY SUPPLIES PROVISIONING METHOD as filed on Jun. 1, 2006 and having application Ser. No. 11/421,694;

SUBSCRIPTION-BASED PRE-PROVISIONED TOWABLE UNIT FACILITATION METHOD as filed on Jun. 12, 2006 and having application Ser. No. 11/423,594;

RADIATION-BLOCKING BLADDER APPARATUS AND METHOD as filed on Jun. 19, 2006 and having application Ser. No. 11/425,043;

PRIVATE CIVIL DEFENSE-THEMED TELEVISION BROADCASTING METHOD as filed on Jun. 23, 2006 and having application Ser. No. 11/426,231;

EMERGENCY SUPPLIES PRE-POSITIONING AND ACCESS CONTROL METHOD as filed on Jul. 10, 2006 and having application Ser. No. 11/456,472;

PRIVATE CIVIL DEFENSE-THEMED BROADCASTING METHOD as filed on Aug. 1, 2006 and having application Ser. No. 11/461,605; and

METHOD OF PROVIDING VARIABLE SUBSCRIPTION-BASED ACCESS TO AN EMERGENCY SHELTER as filed on Aug. 1, 2006 and having application Ser. No. 11/461,624;

the contents of which are fully incorporated herein by this reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates generally to emergency shelters.

BACKGROUND

As powerful as the machinery of modern life appears, modern citizens are today perhaps more at risk of experiencing a serious disruption in their ability to prosper or even to survive en mass than is generally perceived. A serious disruption to any significant element of civilized infrastructure can produce catastrophic results for a broad swatch of a given civil community. Any number of natural and/or intentionally-caused events can significantly disrupt society's infrastructure and present a variety of differing threats and problems to the individual.

Many people believe and trust that their government (local, regional, and/or national) will provide for them in the event of such catastrophic occurrences. And, indeed, in the long view such is clearly a legitimate responsibility owed by any government to its citizens. That such is a consummation devoutly to be wished, however, does not necessarily make it so. Hurricane Katrina provided some insight into just how unprepared a series of tiered modern governmental entities may actually be to respond to even basic survival needs when a large-scale catastrophic event occurs. One may also observe that most communities simply cannot afford to staff and support a contingent capability to deal with a wide variety of likely infrequent and possibly unpredictable extreme events.

When a civilly-catastrophic event occurs, substantially sudden civil upheaval will often follow. Not only will many significant elements of society's infrastructure be seriously disrupted, but people in general are known to act in ways that are different and sometimes unexpected when faced with circumstances that threaten their well being or survival. This, coupled with the characterizing effects of the civilly-catastrophic event itself, can present an affected person with numerous challenges. Modern governments typically do little to proactively ensure the ability to quickly and safely effect care of their citizens in the face of many civilly-catastrophic events. These challenges can be particularly troubling for persons located in crowded urban settings. As a result, for example, persons who are caught working at a downtown office or other densely populated area when a civilly-catastrophic event occurs may well find themselves trapped in gridlock in the city without being able to escape or otherwise access shelter to protect themselves at least from the initial effects of the event.

Many catastrophic events are survivable presuming one has access to a suitable emergency shelter, particularly during the initial clear and present threat of the event. It is possible, of course, to retain the services of skilled shelter builders to thereby personally acquire such a shelter. Such an approach, however, presents a number of corresponding problems and issues. In general, such shelters often require excavation and the building of a below-ground facility. This, in turn, tends to be costly, is often impractical for a given interested party, and may cause considerable unwanted attention as well. On the other hand, attempting to take responsible actions to reasonably ensure one's own abilities in this regard can become, in and of itself, a seemingly insurmountable challenge. In addition, an individual may know of an emergency shelter, but the shelter may not be located in a nearby or accessible location. In the time it may take to travel to such a shelter, the exposure to the effects of the event may greatly compromise the individual's ability to survive the event.

For these and other reasons most if not all persons are typically bereft of a short-term emergency shelter that can be readily and quickly accessed in a time of need.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above needs are at least partially met through provision of the subscription-based intermediate short-term emergency shelter method described in the following detailed description, particularly when studied in conjunction with the drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 comprises a flow diagram as configured in accordance with various embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 2 comprises a side elevation view as configured in accordance with various embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 3 comprises a schematic block diagram view as configured in accordance with various embodiments of the invention; and

FIG. 4 comprises a schematic block diagram as configured in accordance with various embodiments of the invention.

Skilled artisans will appreciate that elements in the figures are illustrated for simplicity and clarity and have not necessarily been drawn to scale. For example, the dimensions and/or relative positioning of some of the elements in the figures may be exaggerated relative to other elements to help to improve understanding of various embodiments of the present invention. Also, common but well-understood elements that are useful or necessary in a commercially feasible embodiment are often not depicted in order to facilitate a less obstructed view of these various embodiments of the present invention. It will further be appreciated that certain actions and/or steps may be described or depicted in a particular order of occurrence while those skilled in the art will understand that such specificity with respect to sequence is not actually required. It will also be understood that the terms and expressions used herein have the ordinary meaning as is accorded to such terms and expressions with respect to their corresponding respective areas of inquiry and study except where specific meanings have otherwise been set forth herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Generally speaking, pursuant to these various embodiments, one provides a short-term emergency shelter that is configured and arranged to provide only temporary interim shelter during a window of clear and present threat exposure temporally proximal to an event. Consideration-based private civil security subscriptions are then accepted from subscribers with respect to providing event-based access to the short-term emergency shelter. The short-term emergency shelter is generally configured and arranged to be a barrier to the clear and present threat exposure.

The shelter can be maintained pending a need to permit subscription-based access to the secure short-term emergency shelter upon occurrence of the event, and an attendant may be provided to assist with the maintenance and security of the shelter and its contents. If desired, emergency survival items may also be provided in the short-term emergency shelter. Adjustments to the emergency survival items may also be made to reflect dynamically changing circumstances as occur during the consideration-based private civil security subscription.

These teachings can be facilitated without dependency upon governmental oversight, participation, or control. By these teachings, an individual can take important steps to bring security into their lives without having to effectively become a full-time survivalist; such individuals can, in short, continue to enjoy their chosen vocations and standard of living knowing that, should a civilly-catastrophic even indeed be visited upon them, they will have relatively immediate access to a short-term emergency shelter during the clear and present stages of threat exposure that may prove critical to the sustainment of human life.

These and other benefits may become clearer upon making a thorough review and study of the following detailed description. Referring now to the drawings, and in particular to FIG. 1, an illustrative process 100 in accord with these teachings provides generally for providing 101 a short-term emergency shelter. The short-term emergency shelter is configured and arranged to provide only temporary interim shelter during a window of clear and present threat exposure temporally proximal to the event.

It is generally intended that the short-term shelter will only be utilized to provide for the interim protection and security of any authorized beneficiaries within the shelter. This interim protection and security is provided during a critical window of time, such as, for example, either directly following or during the initial stages of an event, when the effects or consequences of the event may be most intense or severe. The shelter is configured and arranged to function as a barrier to protect any occupants during stages of increased vulnerability proximal to the event. The shelter is designed to shield occupants from the immediate and imminent threat created by the particular type of event, with the protection being provided up to the time that it is safe for the occupants to exit the shelter after the imminent threat is cleared or the occupants are otherwise rescued or evacuated to another longer-term shelter. While the type of event will dictate the duration of the stay in the shelter, the average stay in the shelter may be approximately three days.

Generally, the short-term emergency shelters will comprise common, non-private accommodations suitable for temporary occupation. The short-term emergency shelter will generally comprise simplified or limited facilities suitable for accommodating a temporary stay within the shelter for a limited number of occupants. The simplified facilities may include, for example, sleeping facilities, hygiene facilities, simple food preparation facilities, storage, and/or communications facilities. Other options for the shelter may include, but are not limited to, auxiliary electric power supplies and sources, lighting, temperature and/or humidity control, water and/or air purification, and so forth.

Generally, the short-term emergency shelters may be located relatively near, or preferably within, population centers or large metropolitan areas. Such a location is preferable for the short-term emergency shelter because relative proximity between the shelter and the authorized beneficiaries may be advantageous when anticipating catastrophic events that may occur in a devastating fashion with relatively little advance notice. Further, the likelihood of traffic paralysis in a population center is fairly high upon the occurrence of a catastrophic event, as many people may be trying to avoid the effects of the event or otherwise remove themselves from the population center. Thus, having the short-term emergency shelter located within the population center will help facilitate access to the shelter during the window of clear and present threat exposure.

As noted, the subscriptions relate to providing event-based access to the short-term emergency shelter. The event-based access may comprise, for example, civilly-catastrophic event-based access. As used herein, “civilly-catastrophic event” will be understood to refer to an event that substantially and materially disrupts a society's local, regional, and/or national infrastructure and ability to provide ordinary civil services. A civilly-catastrophic event can be occasioned by any of a wide variety of natural and/or non-naturally-caused disasters. Examples of natural disasters that are potentially capable of initiating a civilly-catastrophic event include, but are not limited to, extreme weather-related events (such as hurricanes, tsunamis, extreme droughts, widespread or unfortunately-targeted tornadoes, extreme hail or rain, and the like, flooding, and so forth), extreme geological events (such as earthquakes, volcanic activity, and so forth), extreme space-based events (such as Earthly collisions with comets, large asteroids, and so forth, extreme solar flares, and the like), extreme environmental events (such as widespread uncontrolled fire or the like), and global or regional pandemics, to note but a few.

Examples of non-naturally-caused disasters capable of initiating a civilly-catastrophic event include both unintended events caused by various intentional and unintentional behaviors and actions such as acts of war, terrorism, madness, accident, or the like. Examples of non-naturally-caused disasters capable of such potential scale include, but are not limited to, nuclear-related events (including uncontrolled fission or fusion releases, radiation exposure, and so forth), acts of aggression such as war or terrorism, the release of deadly or otherwise disruptive biological or chemical agents or creations, and so forth.

Emergency shelters comprise a generally well-understood area of endeavor with various construction techniques, architectural choices, and materials options being known. Generally, the short-term emergency shelter comprises an enclosed structure. Such a configuration provides substantial protection for the occupants of the shelter. The enclosed structure may comprise, for example, an existing structure or a newly-constructed structure. The short-term emergency shelter is generally configured and arranged to be a barrier to the clear and present threat exposure created by the event, and, more specifically, the clear and present threat exposure temporally proximal to the event. Therefore, several options and configurations are possible. For the purpose of illustration and not limitation, and referring now to FIG. 2, certain approaches that may be taken with respect to providing such a short-term emergency shelter will be presented.

As one illustrative example, the short-term emergency shelter may comprise an underground short-term emergency shelter 201. The underground shelter may be located beneath a structure, such as a building 202, in addition to being located underground. The underground short-term emergency shelter may be created by customizing or modifying an existing space or structure, such as, for example, a basement or sub-basement of a building, or may be created by constructing a new space for the shelter.

An underground configuration would provide protection from a multitude of threats. Specifically, for a radioactive threat, having a considerable mass placed between the underground shelter inhabitants and the source of radioactivity would provide protection to the shelter occupants. Thus, the underground short-term emergency may be covered by at least 2 meters of earth. This depth can vary, of course, with the nature of the dirt itself, as a greater depth below less dense earth may be necessary to provide a same level of radiation blockage as a lesser depth of more dense earth.

Alternatively, the short-term emergency shelter may comprise an above ground, elevated short-term emergency shelter 203. The above ground short-term emergency shelter 203 may be located on land or an upper floor of a structure, such as, for example, the building 202. Again, the above ground short-term emergency shelter may be created by customizing an existing space or may be created by constructing a new space for the shelter. By another optional approach, a short-term emergency shelter 204 may be partially disposed above ground and partially disposed underground.

If desired, a short-term emergency shelter can be configured and arranged to float in a liquid such as fresh water or salt water bodies. A floating short-term shelter 206 is shown in FIG. 2 floating on a body of water 207. This may be helpful, for example, during a land-based catastrophic event, or when land space is in limited supply. Further, a floating short-teen shelter 206 may be desired when liquid may be needed as a transportation medium for the short-term emergency shelter either to or from a particular pre-determined location where the shelter will be positioned. In addition, a short-term emergency shelter may be configured and arranged to be submergible. A submerged short-term shelter 208 is shown in FIG. 2 immersed in the body of water 207. Submerging the short-term emergency shelter may be particularly beneficial during certain types of threats or events, such as, for example, radiation exposure or widespread fire. Further, the floating shelter 206 or the submerged shelter 208 may also comprise water-borne vehicles.

By another approach, the short-term emergency shelter may be substantially fireproof. For example, the short-term emergency shelter may be at least partially comprised of heat resistant material to thereby aid in preventing the interior of the short-term emergency shelter from becoming unsuitable for human habitation due to fire within or around the location of the shelter. If desired, the short-term emergency shelter may also be substantially waterproof. This feature is particularly desirable in the case of certain extreme weather-related events (such as, for example, tsunamis, rain, flooding, and so forth) and this feature is highly desirable for the floating or submergible short-term emergency shelters.

The shelter may be enclosed in a radiation-blocking bladder to provide protection to the shelter occupants. The radiation-blocking bladder may be used in addition to or in lieu of placing the short-term emergency shelter underground. The radiation-blocking bladder may be at least substantially filled with liquid (such as, but not limited to, water) to comprise a radiation barrier. Alternatively (or in combination therewith), the walls, ceiling and/or floor of the short-term emergency shelter may incorporate, or be encased by, ionizing radiation shielding such that part, or all, of the short-term emergency shelter is shielded.

By another optional approach, the short-term emergency shelter may be armored. The armor can be designed to stop at least low caliber small arms fire and may offer higher ballistic protection if desired, including bulletproof windows, louvered view ports, and armored occupant compartments, to note but a few examples. Additionally, the short-term emergency shelter may be otherwise structurally hardened to resist collapse or breach.

By one optional approach, the short-term emergency shelter may exclusively function as a short-term emergency shelter. In any of the above-described configurations, the short-term emergency shelter may serve substantially no purpose other than to function as a shelter. As a result, the area including the short-term emergency shelter may have secured access such that entry to the area is not allowed prior to the event. However, it is also possible that the short-term emergency shelter may have at least one non-emergency shelter function. For example, the short-term emergency shelter may function as a data center, storage room, a conference room, a mechanical room, or a vehicle, to note but a few illustrative examples. However, it is preferable that any secondary or multi-use functions of the area do not interfere with the operability and function of the short-term emergency shelter, during both its preparation and occupation. Thus, the short-term emergency shelter may also be ordinarily publicly available prior to the event. Then, upon occurrence of the event, the area can then function exclusively as the short-term emergency shelter, with access being limited to authorized beneficiaries.

Providing a short-term emergency shelter may comprise providing a plurality of short-term emergency shelters. A plurality of short-term emergency shelters may be located in the same general area or population center, as well as in a plurality of locations or population centers. By one optional approach, at least one tunnel 209 may connect at least two of the plurality of short-term emergency shelters 201, as shown in FIG. 2. A tunnel could thus facilitate access to and travel between multiple short-term emergency shelters.

Providing such a shelter can further comprise, if desired, prepositioning the short-term emergency shelter at a predetermined location. In many cases it may be helpful to dispose such a predetermined location relatively proximal to one or more authorized beneficiaries, and particularly within a population center where many authorized beneficiaries may be located. Such a position may aid with facilitating timely access to the short-term emergency shelters for the authorized beneficiaries during a time of need. Such proximity may be measured, for example, by distance and/or by a period of time as may reasonably be required to traverse the distance between at least some of the authorized beneficiaries and the predetermined location of the shelter. In some cases, as when the authorized beneficiaries reside or are otherwise often located within a significant population center (such as a city or large town) it may be useful to dispose a (or an additional) predetermined location within the population center itself.

Sensitivities in this regard may vary in response to various influences including but not limited to authorized beneficiary locations, applicable relevant threat scenarios and threat locations, and the like. Therefore, prepositioning the shelter at a predetermined location may further comprise assessing a likelihood of at least one particular event occurring and also assessing a likelihood of a location of the at least one particular event occurring. This would include, for example, evaluating when tensions, conditions, and/or concerns regarding the occurrence of a particular event are relatively high. The short-term emergency shelter may then be placed strategically based on the intelligence information that is gathered regarding the type of threat and possible location where such an event may occur.

Further, the predetermined location may be a permanent or temporary location for a short-term emergency shelter. For example, a particular event or occasion may bring an increased number of authorized beneficiaries to a certain area, such as a population center. If the existing short-term emergency shelters in that area will not be able to accommodate the additional or concentrated number of authorized beneficiaries should a catastrophic event occur, it may be desirable to provide additional short-term emergency shelters proximal to the authorized beneficiaries. These additional short-term emergency shelters may optionally comprise temporary shelters that are only positioned near the authorized beneficiaries for the duration of the event or occasion that brought them to the area.

Authorized beneficiaries could be provided with information regarding the location of the short-term emergency shelters as well as information regarding how to access the shelters. This information can be provided prior to the occurrence of the catastrophic event if desired using any available or known communications devices or techniques. It may also be useful or possible to provide such information (either in the first instance or as a supplemental notice) following the initiation of such an event. The latter may be achieved using such communication means as may be available at the time. It would also be possible to provision each authorized beneficiary (or family or company of beneficiaries) with one or more communications devices by which such information could be provided.

If desired, the short-term emergency shelter may be configured and arranged to be moved to and from the predetermined location. One approach for accomplishing this result is that the short-term emergency shelter may comprise a vehicle. The vehicle may include non-human powered vehicles, examples of which include, but are not limited to, terrestrial vehicles (including cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles, and trains, to note but a few), and water-borne vehicles (including boats and ships, submarines, and amphibious craft, again to note but a few relevant examples). The vehicle shelter may further optionally comprise a vehicular fuel storage tank and/or fuel pump. Referring again to FIG. 2, a wheeled vehicle short-term shelter 205 is shown. Such a vehicle may be positioned in any of a variety of locations, depending on the type of vehicle and the assessment of where a short-term emergency shelter is needed

The transportability or mobility of a vehicular short-term emergency shelter may be utilized before, during, or after the event that triggers access to the shelter. For example, the vehicular capabilities of the short-term emergency shelter could be utilized only to initially position the short-term emergency shelter in a pre-determined location. Once positioned, the short-term emergency shelter would then remain stationary in the predetermined location while authorized beneficiaries occupy the shelter. If desired, however, the short-term emergency shelter may be moved from the predetermined location while the authorized beneficiaries occupy the shelter. This option may be particularly helpful if the clear and present threat exposure is so eminent, extended, and/or severe that evacuation from the predetermined location becomes necessary.

By another approach, the vehicle could be a formerly operational vehicle, such as a bus, recreational vehicle, trailer, or rail car, for example, that no longer has means for providing self-locomotion. The non-operational vehicle could then be converted and equipped to function as a short-term emergency shelter, and then towed to or otherwise positioned in a pre-determined location. Likewise, a non-vehicle short-term emergency shelter may be provisioned with wheels or skids to facilitate selective movement of the shelter.

The process 100 further provides for accepting 102 consideration-based private civil security subscriptions from subscribers with respect to providing event-based access to the short-term emergency shelter. The event-based access to the short-term emergency shelter can pertain, if desired, to a predetermined period of time. For example, a given subscription can relate to providing access to the short-term emergency shelter for a one year period of time for one or more authorized beneficiaries as correspond to that subscription.

By one approach, these subscriptions may be accepted by, for example, a for-profit business. By another approach a not-for-profit business (such as a membership-based entity) may be the appropriate entity to offer and accept such subscriptions.

As noted, these teachings provide for a subscription-based approach. As used herein, the term “subscription” shall be understood to refer to and encompass a variety of legal mechanisms. Some relevant examples include, but these teachings are not limited to, subscription mechanisms such as:

time-limited rights of access (as where a subscription provides access rights for a specific period of time, such as one year, in exchange for a corresponding series of payments);

event-limited rights of access (as where a subscription provides access rights during the life of a given subscriber based upon an up-front payment in full and where those access rights terminate upon the death of the subscriber or where, for example, a company purchases a subscription for a key employee and those corresponding rights of access terminate when and if that key employee leaves the employment of that company);

inheritable rights of access (as may occur when the subscription, by its own terms and conditions, provides a right of access that extend past the death of a named subscription beneficiary and further provides for testate and/or intestate transfer to an heir);

rights of access predicated upon a series of periodic payments (as where a subscription provides access rights during, for example, predetermined periods of time on a periodic basis as where a subscriber offers a payment on a month-by-month basis to gain corresponding month-by-month access rights);

rights of access predicated upon a one-time payment (as may occur when a subscriber makes a single payment to obtain a time-based or event-based duration of access rights or, if desired, when a single payment serves to acquire a perpetual right of access that may be retained, transferred, inherited, or the like);

ownership-based rights of access (as may occur when the subscription provides for ownership rights that pertain to a portion of the shelter);

non-transferable rights of access (as may occur when the subscription, by its terms and conditions, prohibits transfer of the right of access from a first named beneficiary to another);

transferable rights of access (as may occur when the subscription, by its terms and conditions, permits, conditional or unconditional transfer of the right of access from a first named beneficiary to another);

membership-based rights of access (as may occur when the subscription, by its terms and conditions, establishes a membership interest with respect to the accorded right of access such as, for example, a club-based membership);

fractionally-based rights of access (as may occur when the subscription, by its terms and conditions, establishes a divided or undivided co-ownership interest by and between multiple subscription beneficiaries with respect to a right to access); and/or

non-ownership-based rights of access (as may occur when the subscription, by its terms and conditions, establishes the aforementioned right of access via, for example, a lease, rental, or borrowing construct).

If desired, a plurality of differentiated subscription opportunities can be offered in this regard. This plurality of differentiated subscription opportunities can correspond, for example, to providing access to the plurality of short-term emergency shelters. As but one very simple illustration in this regard, such subscription opportunities can differ from one another at least with respect to cost. This, in turn, provides subscriber choice with respect to selecting a particular subscription that best meets their specific needs and/or budget limitations. For example, a less costly subscription may provide event-based access to only one of the plurality of short-term emergency shelters, while another subscription opportunity may provide access to more than one of the plurality of short-term emergency shelters at an increased subscription cost. A more costly subscription option may provide access to any of the plurality of short-term emergency shelters.

These teachings also readily encompass the notion of a given subscriber providing such a subscription for an authorized beneficiary other than themselves. Such might occur, for example, when one family member procures such a subscription for one or more other family members. Another example would be for a company to subscribe on behalf of named key employees, family members of such key employees, and so forth. Other examples no doubt exist.

Referring again to FIG. 1, the process 100 may optionally provide for confirming 103 the identities of authorized beneficiaries gaining (or seeking to gain) access to the short-term emergency shelter. Further, the authorized status of authorized beneficiaries may also be confirmed upon verification and confirmation of their identity. The identities of the authorized beneficiaries may be confirmed or authenticated, for example, by at least one identification mechanism, such as biometrics (such as retinal patterns, asperity patterns, voice recognition, fingerprints or some other relatively unique aspect of the human body), identification cards, photographic identification, visual confirmation, an admission card, a password or pass code, or words and phrases, to note but a few illustrative examples. Identification confirmation may also include confirmation that the authorized beneficiary is allowed entry into a particular short-term emergency shelter.

By another optional approach, at least one designated contact person (such as a spouse, parent, child, or other keenly interested stakeholder) may be automatically notified 104 upon confirmation of the authorized beneficiary's identity and the subsequent entry of the authorized beneficiary into the short-term emergency shelter. This information may be communicated to the at least one designated contact person using any of a variety of communications facilities provided in the short-term emergency shelter, as further described below.

Referring again to FIGS. 1 and 3, the process 100 may optionally provide for providing 105 emergency survival items 301 in the short-term emergency shelter 300. This can comprise, for example, providing a plurality of life-sustaining resources as pertain to a plurality of differing categories of life's necessities (such as, but not limited to, hydration, nourishment, shelter, security, medical treatment, environmentally borne threat abatement, and so forth).

By one approach, the emergency survival items 301 can comprise, at least in part, consumable survival supplies. Illustrative examples include, but are not limited to:

food supplies;

potable water;

a finite air supply;

emergency medical supplies (including, but not limited to, first aid supplies as well as first responder emergency medical services supplies such as blood, plasma, automatic external defibrillators, radiation exposure treatments, chemical exposure treatments, antibiotics, and so forth);

batteries;

hygiene supplies; and

sanitation supplies.

In addition, or in lieu thereof, the supplies can comprise, at least in part, non-consumable survival supplies. Illustrative examples include, but are not limited to:

essential clothing items;

body armor and protective gear;

personal protection items (such as face masks, gloves, foul-weather gear, and so forth);

bed linens;

beds;

food preparation items;

communications items;

power generation equipment;

repair and maintenance tools;

evacuation tools (such as cutting torches, cement saws, and other tools that can be used to create another point of egress from the shelter should that be necessary);

navigation equipment (such as maps (in hardcopy and/or virtual form), global positioning system-based equipment and aids instructions, a compass, diagrams of the shelter and/or surrounding buildings and facilities, and so forth); and

rescue tools and supplies (such as rope, a locator apparatus, beacons, noise makers, a self-inflatable raft or other floatation equipment, emergency lights, climbing equipment, and so forth).

Generally, the short-term emergency shelter 300 may contain a seven day supply of emergency survival items 301 to sustain the occupants during the window of clear and present threat exposure temporally proximal to the event. The seven day supply will assist in sustaining the authorized beneficiaries while in the shelter and prior to the opportunity to access any other type of necessities or survival items from another source. While a seven day supply will generally be provided, a greater or lesser quantity of supplies may be contemplated.

The process 100 may further optionally provide for maintaining 106 the short-term emergency shelter pending a need to permit the subscription-based access to the short-term emergency shelter upon occurrence of the event. This can comprise maintaining the shelter on behalf of the subscriber and/or the authorized beneficiaries. The specifics of such maintenance will of course vary with respect to the nature of the resource or resources being maintained. Such maintenance can comprise, for example, maintaining both operational serviceability of the short-term emergency shelter as well as the utility of the emergency survival items as provided therein. By one approach such maintenance can comprise ensuring that unauthorized persons do not access the shelter, inspecting and/or testing the structural and operational integrity of the shelter and its constituent elements, components, and systems, and/or ensuring that pre-provisioned supplies are properly stored, fresh, and suitable for use should the need arise, to name but a few examples.

Such maintenance can also optionally comprise making 107 adjustments to the emergency survival items in the short-term emergency shelter to reflect dynamically changing circumstances as occur during the consideration-based private civil security subscription. As one illustration, a new item may become available that is particularly useful in dealing with or otherwise surmounting some condition that may likely arise upon the occurrence of a particular kind of catastrophic event. In such a case, maintaining such supplies can readily accommodate updating the acquired and stored emergency survival items to include a supply of this new item.

Referring again to FIG. 3, the short-term emergency shelter 300 may comprise, at least in part, environmental protection 302 for authorized beneficiaries of the subscriptions. By one approach, such a shelter 300 can be provided with an independent source of breathable oxygen. When such is not the case, or when a back-up capability is also sought, an airway can be provided to permit air to be taken in to the shelter 300. In at least some cases, of course, this air may be dangerous in greater or lesser degrees to persons within the shelter 300. Therefore, a given shelter 300 may further optionally comprise protection, such as an air filter, from dangerous airborne contaminants (such as radiological contaminants, biological contaminants, and/or chemical contaminants, including both man-made and natural contaminants) as may correspond, for example, to a civilly-catastrophic event. A filtered air supply can then be provided for the occupants of the short-term emergency shelter 300. Various air filters are known in the art and require no further elaboration here.

If desired, this air filter can further comprise an air drawer to draw air into the shelter 300. A variety of such air drawers are known in the art and include electrically powered air drawers, human powered air drawers, and so forth. By one approach this air drawer can be of sufficient size and power to create positive air pressure in the shelter 300 as compared to external ambient conditions. This, in turn, can aid in discouraging airborne contaminants from entering the shelter via whatever cracks, seams, and other openings may be present in the shelter's structure. Various ways and means are known in the art by which to provide positive air pressure in a contained space and therefore require no further detailed description here. Alternatively (or in combination with the above approaches), the shelter 301 can be configured to include masks, hoods, or other contrivances to facilitate delivering safe breathing gases to the occupants when the ambient environment may be dangerous to breathe.

Such approaches as those described above can comprise a part of an overall environmental protection plan for the shelter 300, the general purpose of which is to reduce or fully abate one or more external threats to the inhabitants of the shelter 300. At least some such threats, of course, will typically comprise extraordinary threats that are caused by, or otherwise attend or follow, the kinds of civilly-catastrophic events as can trigger the aforementioned right to access the shelter 300.

The short-term emergency shelter 300 will also typically comprise at least one door 303 or other controlled point of ingress and egress to accommodate the entry and exit of the authorized beneficiaries. By one approach this point of ingress/egress comprises a sealable point of ingress/egress and hence provides a relatively air-tight seal when closed to thereby further aid with preventing local airborne contaminants from entering the short-term emergency shelter 300. This point of ingress/egress may further be provided with a locking mechanism to permit selective control with respect to accessing the short-term emergency shelter 300. By one approach, this door 303 is configured and arranged to open inwardly. This, in turn, permits the door 303 to be opened even when, for example, debris or other obstructions are present in the immediate external vicinity of the door 303. Further, the security of the short-term emergency shelter will typically benefit by use of controlled points of ingress/egress.

In some cases it may be useful or desirable to provide 108 (FIG. 1) at least one substantially full-time attendant 304 or other personnel at the short-term emergency shelter. Such a person can ensure that access requirements and restrictions are observed, that stored supplies remain maintained and free from interference or disturbance, that security of the shelter has not been breached, and that various other rules or regulations as may apply in a given setting are observed. Other duties or responsibilities are also possible if desired. By one approach the shelter 300 can also comprise living quarters such that the at least one attendant is available to facilitate substantially immediate access to the short-term emergency shelter 300 in response to a civilly-catastrophic event.

Referring again to FIGS. 1 and 3, the process 100 may further comprise provisioning 109 the short-term emergency shelter with two-way communications facilities 305. The two-way communications facilities 305 can then be used for authorized beneficiaries or an attendant to communicate to another person, entity, or device that is external to the short-term emergency shelter. These two-way communications facilities 305 can comprise wireless and/or non-wireless audio, video, and/or data communications of choice, to name but a few options. The wireless communications equipment includes, but is not limited to, equipment using carriers of essentially any useful frequency, terrestrial and/or satellite-based infrastructure, infrastructureless platforms, and so forth. Numerous such platforms and techniques are known in the art.

The short-term emergency shelter may also be provisioned 110 with external environment monitoring tools 306. The external environment monitoring tools 305 can then be used to monitor the conditions of the shelter's outer surroundings. Such capabilities may be particularly useful in determining whether or not clear and present threat exposure has been diminished or eliminated and, therefore, whether it is safe for the occupants to emerge from the short-term emergency shelter. The external environment monitoring tools may comprise at least one of: a periscope, a window, video transmission, photographic transmission, and local sensors, to note but a few. Such tools may provide information related to external temperature, air quality, environmental conditions, and the scope of damage as created by the occurrence of the catastrophic event. Such information may be helpful in determining the appropriate time for the occupants of the shelter to emerge from the shelter into the external environment.

These teachings can also optionally provide for monitoring the short-term emergency shelter to detect when a person at least attempts to access the interior of the shelter. Such monitoring can serve, for example, to detect when unauthorized access is being attempted and/or to detect when a need for shelter exists. By one approach, this monitoring can comprise, at least in part, use of the aforementioned two-way communications facilities to permit communications with person within the interior of the shelter. By other approaches, this monitoring can be based, at least in part, on other visual, audio, telephonic, or wireless-based signals that suggest or confirm occupancy of the shelter.

So configured and arranged, a given individual can be assured of greatly improving a likelihood that they will survive the initial stages of a catastrophic event. This predictable and concrete result occurs notwithstanding a potential lack of other preparations on the part of the authorized beneficiary. Such benefits are also accruable, at least in many application settings, with little or no public notice or attention.

Those skilled in the art will recognize that a wide variety of modifications, alterations, and combinations can be made with respect to the above described embodiments without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, and that such modifications, alterations, and combinations are to be viewed as being within the ambit of the inventive concept.

For example, and referring to FIG. 4, by one optional approach, a long-term shelter 401 may also be provided in combination with the short-term emergency shelter. The long-term shelter could serve to accommodate the occupants 403 of a plurality of short-term emergency shelters 402 upon their departure from the short-term shelters after the conclusion of the clear and present threat exposure. A single long-term shelter could accommodate the occupants 403 of multiple short-term shelters and could serve short-term shelters from several locations and/or population centers. Consideration-based private civil security subscriptions may then be accepted from subscribers with respect to providing event-based access to the long-term emergency shelter upon leaving the short-term emergency shelter.

Claims

1. A method comprising;

providing a short-term emergency shelter;
accepting consideration-based private civil security subscriptions from subscribers with respect to providing event-based access to the short-term emergency shelter;
wherein the short-term emergency shelter is configured and arranged to provide only temporary interim shelter during a window of clear and present threat exposure temporally proximal to the event.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the short-term emergency shelter is configured and arranged to be a barrier to the clear and present threat exposure.

3. The method of claim 1 wherein the subscriptions comprise at least one of:

time-limited rights of access;
event-limited rights of access;
inheritable rights of access;
rights of access predicated upon a series of periodic payments;
rights of access predicated upon a one-time payment;
ownership-based rights of access;
non-transferable rights of access;
transferable rights of access;
membership-based rights of access;
fractionally-based rights of access;
non-ownership-based rights of access.

4. The method of claim 1 wherein the event-based access comprises civilly-catastrophic event-based access.

5. The method of claim 4 wherein the civilly-catastrophic event comprises at least one of:

a natural disaster;
a non-naturally-caused disaster.

6. The method of claim 1 wherein the short-term emergency shelter comprises common, non-private accommodations.

7. The method of claim 1 further comprising:

maintaining the short-term emergency shelter pending a need to permit subscription-based access to the secure multi-person emergency shelter upon occurrence of the event.

8. The method of claim 1 further comprising:

providing emergency survival items in the short-term emergency shelter.

9. The method of claim 8 further comprising:

making adjustments to the emergency survival items in the short-term emergency shelter to reflect dynamically changing circumstances as occur during the consideration-based private civil security subscription.

10. The method of claim 8 wherein providing emergency survival items in the short-term emergency shelter comprises providing a seven day supply of emergency survival items in the short-term emergency shelter.

11. The method of claim 8 wherein providing emergency survival items comprises providing a plurality of life-sustaining resources as pertain to a plurality of differing categories of life's necessities.

12. The method of claim 11 wherein the plurality of life-sustaining resources comprise at least one of:

hydration;
nourishment;
shelter;
security;
medical treatment;
environmentally borne threat abatement.

13. The method of claim 8 wherein the emergency survival items comprise at least one of:

consumable survival supplies;
non-consumable survival supplies.

14. The method of claim 13 wherein the consumable survival supplies comprise at least one of:

food supplies;
potable water;
finite air supply;
emergency medical supplies;
batteries;
hygiene supplies;
sanitation supplies.

15. The method of claim 13 wherein the non-consumable survival supplies comprise at least one of:

essential clothing items;
personal protection items;
bed linens;
beds;
food preparation items;
communications items;
power generation equipment;
repair and maintenance tools;
evacuation tools;
navigation equipment;
rescue tools and supplies.

16. The method of claim 1 wherein the short-term emergency shelter comprises, at least in part, a controlled point of ingress and egress.

17. The method of claim 16 wherein the short-term emergency shelter comprises, at least in part, at least one additional controlled point of ingress and egress.

18. The method of claim 16 wherein the point of ingress and egress comprises a sealable point of ingress and egress.

19. The method of claim 18 wherein the sealable point of ingress and egress comprises a door that opens inwardly.

20. The method of claim 1 further comprising:

providing at least one at least substantially full-time attendant at the short-term emergency shelter.

21. The method of claim 1 wherein the short-term emergency shelter comprises, at least in part, environmental protection for authorized beneficiaries of the subscriptions.

22. The method of claim 21 wherein the environmental protection comprises a positive pressure air capability to discourage airborne contaminants from entering the short-term emergency shelter.

23. The method of claim 22 wherein the airborne contaminants comprise at least one of:

radiological contaminants;
biological contaminants;
chemical contaminants.

24. The method of claim 21 wherein the environmental protection comprises a filtered air supply.

25. The method of claim 1 wherein the short-term emergency shelter exclusively functions as a short-term emergency shelter.

26. The method of claim 1 wherein the short-term emergency shelter has at least one non-emergency shelter function.

27. The method of claim 26 wherein the at least one non-emergency shelter function comprises storage.

28. The method of claim 1 wherein providing a short-term emergency shelter comprises providing a plurality of short-term emergency shelters.

29. The method of claim 28 wherein at least one tunnel connects at least two of the plurality of short-term emergency shelters.

30. The method of claim 28 wherein the subscription provides event-based access to more than one of the plurality of short-term emergency shelters.

31. The method of claim 28 wherein the subscription provides event-based access to any of the plurality of short-term emergency shelters.

32. The method of claim 1 wherein the short-term emergency shelter comprises an underground short-term emergency shelter.

33. The method of claim 32 wherein the underground short-term emergency shelter comprises a shelter that is covered by at least 2 meters of earth.

34. The method of claim 1 wherein the short-term emergency shelter comprises an above ground, elevated short-term emergency shelter.

35. The method of claim 1 wherein the short-term emergency shelter comprises a short-term emergency shelter partially disposed above ground and partially disposed underground.

36. The method of claim 1 wherein the short-term emergency shelter is substantially fireproof.

37. The method of claim 1 wherein the short-term emergency shelter is substantially waterproof.

38. The method of claim 1 wherein the short-term emergency shelter is configured and arranged to be submergible.

39. The method of claim 1 wherein the short-term emergency shelter is configured and arranged to float in a liquid.

40. The method of claim 1 wherein the short-term emergency shelter is enclosed in a radiation-blocking barrier.

41. The method of claim 1 further comprising:

confirming identities of authorized beneficiaries gaining access to the short-term emergency shelter.

42. The method of claim 41 wherein the identities of the authorized beneficiaries are confirmed by at least one of:

biometrics;
an identification card;
photographs;
visual confirmation;
an admission card;
a password;
a pass code;
voice print;
words.

43. The method of claim 41 further comprising:

upon confirmation of the authorized beneficiary's identity, automatically notifying at least one designated contact person upon the authorized beneficiary's entry into the short-term emergency shelter.

44. The method of claim 1 further comprising:

provisioning the short-term emergency shelter with two-way communications facilities;
using the two-way communications facilities to communicate with persons inside the short-term emergency shelter.

45. The method of claim 1 further comprising:

provisioning the short-term emergency shelter with external environment monitoring tools;
using the external environment monitoring tools to monitor the conditions of the external environment.

46. The method of claim 45 wherein the external environment monitoring tools comprise at least one of:

a periscope;
video transmission;
photographic transmission;
local sensors.

47. The method of claim 1 wherein providing the short-term emergency shelter comprises prepositioning the short-term emergency shelter at a predetermined location.

48. The method of claim 47 wherein prepositioning the short-term emergency shelter at a predetermined location comprises assessing a likelihood of at least one particular event occurring and a likelihood of a location of the at least one particular event occurring.

49. The method of claim 47 wherein prepositioning the short-term emergency shelter at a predetermined location comprises prepositioning the short-term emergency shelter at a predetermined location in relative proximity to a plurality of authorized beneficiaries.

50. The method of claim 47 wherein the short-term emergency shelter is configured and arranged to be moved to and from the predetermined location.

51. The method of claim 50 wherein the short-term emergency shelter remains stationary in the predetermined location while authorized beneficiaries occupy the short-term emergency shelter.

52. The method of claim 50 wherein the short-term emergency shelter is moved from the predetermined location while authorized beneficiaries occupy the short-term emergency shelter.

53. The method of claim 1 wherein the short-term emergency shelter comprises an enclosed structure.

54. The method of claim 53 wherein the enclosed structure is an existing structure.

55. The method of claim 1 wherein the short-term emergency shelter comprises a vehicle.

56. The method of claim 1 wherein the short-term emergency shelter comprises an armored short-term emergency shelter.

57. The method of claim 1 further comprising:

providing a long-term shelter;
accepting consideration-based private civil security subscriptions from subscribers with respect to providing event-based access to the long-term emergency shelter upon leaving the short-term emergency shelter.

Patent History

Publication number: 20110030310
Type: Application
Filed: Aug 7, 2006
Publication Date: Feb 10, 2011
Inventor: Barrett H. Moore (Winnetka, IL)
Application Number: 11/462,795

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: Barrier Construction (52/745.05)
International Classification: E04B 1/00 (20060101);