In February 2021, the Congressional Research Service released an evaluative nonpartisan report on the National Preparedness System (NPS). This report noted problems and difficulties experienced in 2020 during the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic. For example, lack of personal protective equipment, disorganized logistical distribution, and other issues that demand attention. In essence, the report can be interpreted as revealing the NPS’s failure. The report’s summary states, “Congress may also consider mechanisms to strengthen the development of preparedness to ensure the National Preparedness Goal can be met.”
Emergency managers need actionable intelligence before, during, and after disasters. More than just situational awareness, the collection, analysis, and sharing of intelligence can provide an incident’s response and recovery command and general staff with much needed decision-making information.
In March 2021, a Cape Cod weather station in Chatham, Massachusetts was abandoned due to coastal erosion. With much media coverage, some of the articles mentioned that the situation is likely to worsen. The fact that they associated the erosion with climate change and that it was a weather station yielding research data about the changing climate added some irony.
It is important to understand why people do the things they do when trying to figure out an individual’s motives and reasons. It is even more captivating when it involves an individual doing unspeakable actions toward another, such as murder or abuse. When it comes to terrorism, there are many different kinds of people who become terrorists – regardless of gender, orientation, religion, or race. These people have complex varying agendas, motivations, and reasons for their actions: religious, political, cultural, emotional, or perceptual. Understanding these reasons will help communities develop counterterrorism programs and support groups to help thwart terroristic actions.
Four years ago, during the 2017 Inauguration, the country and the world existed in a very different reality than they do today. Today, a “new world” exists within a global pandemic and among First Amendment activities and protests. The 2021 Inauguration was unique for these reasons but also presented challenges in communications that are not so new. Now, more than ever, agencies need to collaborate to ensure continuity of government and security of the homeland as well as the health of the overall emergency communications ecosystem.
Mitigating wildfires is not only essential for protecting life, property, and critical infrastructure. It also is essential for controlling climate change, which ultimately causes disasters around the world. National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) estimates that wildfires now cost between $63 and $285 billion a year. According to data from the Fourth National Climate Assessment, wildfires cause 5-10% of annual global CO2 emissions each year. As long as wildfires continue to intensify and burn more area, CO2 emissions are expected to increase because climate change leads to warmer temperatures and favorable wildfire conditions. Furthermore, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report comprises the cost of health effects from exposure to U.S. wildfires between 2008 and 2017 as $450 billion.
As a critical element of democracy, elections need to be a part of the all-hazards planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercising benefiting from the nation’s emergency management agencies and departments at all levels of government. Election security, capability, and integrity, as well as the ability for citizens to exercise their constitutional rights through democratic processes are essential to the sustained republic.
Emergency management and public safety agencies are increasingly using data analysis and visualization tools (e.g., Tableau, Microsoft PowerBI, ArcGIS, Google Data Studio) to inform their decision-making and help manage disasters in a multi-threat/hazard environment. In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, federal, state, and local government agencies rapidly expanded the use of these predictive analysis tools by integrating them into their emergency operations.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has stated that the United States faces a rising danger from terrorists and rogue states seeking to use weapons of mass destruction (WMD). If the government learned that a terrorist intended to use a WMD in a major metropolitan U.S. city, senior government officials would need to determine how to resolve the competing interests involved in identifying and stopping the terrorist, while simultaneously preparing to save lives and minimize damage to property. This requires an understanding of how national policies have evolved over the past 25 years and what interagency coordination mechanisms exist that enable the government to effectively coordinate law enforcement and consequence management activities across all levels of government.
On the afternoon of 23 August 2011, a rumbling in the ductwork was heard overhead in a chemistry classroom on the fourth floor of a brand-new building at Montgomery College in Maryland. As a laboratory safety class was getting ready to begin, the noise quickly transitioned to a swaying of the building – a motion that was soon recognized as an earthquake. The view from the window showed no ripples in the pond below, but dozens of students, faculty, and staff were evacuating multiple buildings. Although the consequences of an earthquake affecting the college would typically be low, the need to more formally address the risk than it had been in the past became apparent. By early in the Fall semester, the college developed a set of practical procedures and protocols to address the actual hazards that present themselves in a region of low earthquake risk, while considering the potential need to quickly assess damages and hazards that an earthquake might present.