Most discussions about protection of the U.S. "critical infrastructure" focus on power plants, government buildings, nuclear facilities, and other high-value "things." It says here that people, U.S. citizens, both government workers and the general public - human assets, in other words - also need protection and, in fact, should be at the top of the list.
"Resilience" used to be an after-thought in preparedness planning. Today it is not only a fundamental principle, an ultimate goal, and an essential guideline, but also the concrete foundation (literally as well as figuratively) of long-range policies, funding decisions, and effective response and recovery operations.
Two CNA officials discuss the once frequently ignored relevance of Resilience - yes, with a capital "R" - as a major component of the U.S. "Grand Strategy" for homeland-security and how it evolved from a passing thought to a sudden realization and eventually to a nationally known buzzword.
Prevention, Response, and Recovery used to be the principal objectives of the U.S. homeland-security strategy. That blessed trinity has now expanded to a better balanced quartet, thanks in large part to various studies and official reports that have focused public and political attention on the need for Resilience as well.
Goal: Ensure that all goes well before, during, and after a major public event. How to do so: Prepare an all-contingency plan, well in advance and involving all stakeholders involved, provide enough flexibility to cope with unexpected/unforeseeable "what if" contingencies, then practice, practice, practice.
Today's well dressed emergency responder may not be featured in many fashion magazines and/or on TV commercials, but the personal protective equipment he or she is wearing is not only functional but also, usually, a very tight fit. An accessory bonus: It might also save his or her life.
How does one measure preparedness, particularly in the field of homeland defense? Slowly, most of the time - and very carefully - is the correct answer. But there are other relevant questions that first must be answered. What is being measured, for example? And who, or what agency, is in charge of the measuring? And how will the measurements taken being used?
Prevention - of terrorist attacks and/or other mass-casualty incidents - is and must be the first priority in homeland security. But when, not if, prevention fails, as it sometimes will, recovery and resilience move to center stage. The problem is that much has been accomplished in those areas, but much more is still required, and time is running short.
Science is wonderful! Except when it is not. One of the almost inevitable problems facing researchers in the biological sciences is how to ensure that their discoveries are used to benefit mankind. Unfortunately, achieving that enviable goal may be a true Mission Impossible.
It started with extremely low-tech audio communications, and in recent years telemedicine technology has spawned a spectrum of much more advanced systems and devices that are of literally life-or-death importance to many citizens in distress. But the paperwork - specifically including development and performance standards - has not kept up.