The Resilience Spectrum for Emergency Management
The modern world is mired in uncertainty. When is the next terrorist attack? The next hurricane? The next nuclear threat? There are numerous complex risks that face the United States daily, and it is the job of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to choose the best way to counter them. To do this, it’s best to focus on resilience. However, rigid resilience practices such as implementing a “one-size-fits-all” response to threats are not effective, as they can sustain undesirable systems, oppose change, and disregard power relationships such as the benefit of authorizing tribal, local, and state authorities to tackle security challenges.
Resilience is not a rigid strategy. Instead, it is a spectrum with three general zones of action: stability, flexibility, and change.
- Stability emphasizes the absorptive capacity of systems by focusing on persistence. In the case of a terrorist attack in a city center, this would mean bolstering human security and constructing blockades. This allows the city center to minimize damage from a terrorist attack without fundamentally altering the on-goings of the public
- Flexibility emphasizes the adaptive capacity of systems through incremental adjustment. In the city center case, this would mean instituting checkpoints, constructing crowd control fences that safely direct the public, and enacting security regulations that ban the possession of certain objects. This allows the city center to adapt to the terrorist threat by altering the way people function within it
- Change emphasizes the transformative capacity of systems through transformational responses. In our city center example, this would mean designating the security authority to a higher level, restricting access to the city center, or if the threat is severe and persistent enough, blocking access to the city center indefinitely to encourage the public to congregate elsewhere
By viewing resilience strategy as a spectrum, it enables the possible, increasing DHS’s ability to control uncertain futures and adjust to threats based on severity and urgency. In doing so, DHS can design-out risk, minimize uncertainty, and keep our country safe.
About Arc Aspicio
Arc Aspicio is a management, strategy, and technology consulting firm that takes a mission-oriented approach to complex client challenges. As a rapidly growing company, Arc Aspicio has a bold strategy for 2016-2018 that drives growth through new capabilities in strategy, design, human capital, data analytics, information sharing, cybersecurity, and strategic communications. The company is known for a strong, collaborative culture that values gratitude – for its clients and its great team. And, #welovedogs! Follow us on Twitter @arcaspicio or learn more at www.arcaspicio.com