The word safety is commonly used in the workplace and sounds good when it is tacked onto other words or used in phrases – for example, public safety, safety officer, safety lock, safety culture, safety goggles, and various slogans like “safety first,” just to name a few. However, the true meaning of the word should not get lost in such casual terms used in daily routines.
Neither human nor robot, a digital police officer (D-PO) is a vision in machine teammates: an artificial intelligence-based partner that can be reached through multiple devices including the patrol car’s on-board computer and officers’ mobile devices. A D-PO has access to multiple data sources including live security camera feeds and criminal databases as well as other D-POs assigned to officers. Scientists and engineers, like those at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), are working in the field of human-machine teaming to bridge the gap between today’s tools and the machine teammates of the future.
Whether constructing a home, creating community programs, or developing multijurisdictional plans and procedures, it is not enough to just construct, create, or develop. A home that collapses, a program that is not sustainable, and plans and procedures that lack continuity are examples that should motivate emergency preparedness professionals to build resilience into every planning process.
As a result of the changing climate, natural hazards like hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires are expected to continue to increase in both intensity and frequency. Therefore, it is critical that communities around the globe prioritize increasing their overall resiliency.
Publisher note: Rob Schnepp was one of DomPrep’s first writers and has provided council and guidance to me over the past two decades. I asked him to provide his personal account of the 9/11 attacks as well as the subsequent anthrax attacks. They serve as a reminder of how many felt following those attacks: uncertainty about when and where another threat would emerge, an urgent need to prepare for another terrorist attack, and unity of effort. Today, there is still uncertainty about what potential threats are looming. However, it is time to bring back the urgency to prepare and the unity required to move preparedness efforts forward.
Devastating events can open windows of opportunity. In emergency management, focusing events like 9/11 create opportunities for change. Tragedies like 9/11 or devastating hurricanes create a flurry of activity in the short period that follows. This activity typically involves conversations about how to make things better or make change. However, windows for these conversations always close.
Disaster support often conjures the image of boots-on-the-ground responders providing aid to survivors on scene. However, disaster support involves so much more that is accomplished at each phase of the disaster management cycle. These efforts include creating codes and standards, building a workforce, providing financial aid, and offering psychological support.
Since 1998, DomPrep authors and readers have touted the need to prepare for disasters. There is a consensus among preparedness, response, and resilience professionals that forethought is the key to community resilience following a disaster. The desire to prepare is demonstrated through action: innumerable studies and best practices have been written, trainings and exercises have been conducted, and equipment purchases have been made. However, planning documents, practice scenarios, and more resources are not enough. Preparedness needs to be a mindset that stakeholders embrace daily.
To take a multidisciplinary, multijurisdictional approach to disaster preparedness and response, agencies and organizations must connect both in person and virtually. Mutual aid agreements enable agencies to share resources and develop a collaborative strategy for addressing emerging threats. Although predicted by experts, the threats that presented over the past year – namely, a global pandemic and large-scale cyberattacks on critical infrastructure – still caught many communities by surprise.