When a hurricane hits, people think about disaster planning. But most of the time, hurricanes or natural disasters feel like they apply to other people.
The unprecedented hurricane response by state, local, and Federal agencies in 2017 is only months in the rearview mirror. Ready or not, June 1st marked the beginning of the 2018 Hurricane season.
Communities are often the foundation for an expedited recovery following major events. But how can communities strengthen their response to, for example, a major cyber-attack or natural event, such as an Electronic Magnetic Pulse solar flare? A United States electrical grid failure could destroy a number of the nation’s high voltage transformers causing widespread outages for several weeks, even months. A public health emergency could quickly ensue particularly among the vulnerable as the ripple effects cause significant societal disruption. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) strategic plan encourages and empowers communities to prepare for the inevitable impacts of future disasters. How can communities prime for major events?
Grit and determination. This is what the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) workforce is known for. After what is arguably the most challenging year in its history, the FEMA leadership called on the agency to enable the workforce through four elements: build, empower, sustain, and train. A key factor in creating a scalable, sustainable disaster response workforce is to foster a proactive culture, one focused on preparedness. A proactive mindset can create an environment that asks the “what if” questions that lead to more prepared response efforts.
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.
Many of us are familiar with the idea of crowdsourcing. Corporations and the Government both use crowdsourcing to generate data, raise awareness campaigns, and produce ideas. So, what if we used crowdsourcing to enhance our security and bridge communication gaps between the Government and American citizens at the same time?
“Employees at all levels are too busy ‘doing their jobs’ and ‘fighting fires’ to devote time or pay heed to strategic initiatives.” It’s a common complaint. Academic literature has confirmed that ‘firefighting’ takes up much of the manager’s job and offers extensive advice on how to stop fighting fires – and even how to suppress the urge to do so.
As information sharing has become more common across local, state, and federal agencies, homeland security partners need tools to manage this critical data. SharePoint has emerged as an information sharing tool that can assist emergency managers, law enforcement agencies, and others across the homeland security enterprise with the sharing of sensitive data with internal and external partners, quickly and securely.
Effective communication can save lives and reduce economic damage during the response and recovery phases of a disaster. Despite widely available information on creating effective risk communication and warning messages to elicit desired public outcomes during and following disasters, communication attempts fail too often.
Since the September 11th attacks, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has implemented plans to prevent terrorism and enhance security throughout the nation. The most recent Department of Homeland Security Strategic Plan supports these missions and includes plans to sufficiently prepare for crises and deter events like terrorist attacks.
Emergency response training for both professional first responders and the public is critical. Average citizens are often the first to confront emergency situations. While emergency response is a daunting task, training can help prepare anyone for any event. Increased public awareness of free and online Government training courses, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Emergency Management Institute (EMI) courses, improves public preparation and response to crisis and strengthens the capabilities and effectiveness of professional emergency responders.