Responding to disasters is a critical function for first responders and the emergency management community. Rotary and fixed-winged aircraft have traditionally performed disaster response missions, such as overhead damage assessments, reconnaissance, and missing person searches. However, with the advancement of unmanned aircraft systems, there is an opportunity to perform conventional aerial missions in a safer, expeditious, and cost-effective manner.
As the dust from the recent election settles, one of the first orders of business for the incoming Trump administration is a massive public infrastructure investment plan. Although the economic benefits associated with improved infrastructure are popular with many citizens and both sides of the political aisle, the real-world practicalities of ensuring positive economic return from such investments are nonetheless daunting.
The aviation system remains a prime target for terrorists. The traveling public, airlines, and airports grew impatient in the face of long security lines. As a result, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was often in the news, until its leaders undertook a systematic process of transformation to both enhance security and minimize inconvenience for the traveling public.
Preparedness and response organizations have realized many benefits from adopting the Incident Command System (ICS) and similar formal management structures. Performance, however, depends on how people behave as humans within that system – particularly in stressful, fast-moving environments. Integrating behavioral training into ICS training may help improve performance and outcomes.
Various drills and exercises highlight efforts to protect communities against various types of attacks involving transportation, buildings, historic sites, sporting events, and so on. Attacks and hostage-taking incidents around the world expose vulnerabilities that need to be assessed in all communities to determine: what they need to drill, who they need to train, and how they will collaborate across jurisdictions.
The phrase “It’s not if, but when” may distort how certain organizations perceive emergency preparedness, especially in cases such as active shooter threats. This common expression leads to inaccurate threat perceptions and can result in leaders becoming complacent. Emergency managers should be aware of this potential odd pairing of a sense of inevitability with complacency, and be prepared to counter it.
Current approaches for ensuring public safety rely on expensive and obtrusive equipment and procedures having limited availability and inadequate performance. Newly emerging wearable sensors have the potential to spark a fundamental change in this equation. Researchers at George Mason University are investigating a new concept called “Bring Your Own Protection” (BYOP).
The 2016 Aspen Security Forum was held from July 27 to July 30 in Aspen, Colorado. Over the past seven years, the forum, hosted by the Aspen Institute, has earned a well-deserved reputation as the most important venue for thought leadership in the homeland and national security arenas, attracting distinguished speakers and high-level attendees from around the world. This year's forum was no exception.
The "things that keep me up at night" are much more numerous and remarkably different than emergency management 15 years ago. There is no time to rest. The nature of emergencies has changed, complicated by the fact that new threats of intentional incidents using chemical, biological, and other weapons must be considered in addition to accidental or natural incidents.
National policy and practice tend to focus efforts and resources on disaster response and recovery, rather than on disaster risk reduction. Understanding disaster risks and incentivizing sustainable risk reduction efforts could help reduce overall disaster costs and even save lives.