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.
Many companies and government offices were unprepared for the COVID-19 pandemic and sustained lockdowns, despite years of warnings and guidance from experts and the federal government. This lack of preparedness cost companies dearly, from delays in setting up work from home software to supply chain disruptions that could have been mitigated against – if not prevented. In addition to better business continuity planning, the use of red teaming could have possibly spared certain organizations’ reputation hits and some monetary losses. Similarly, organizations can use red teaming or a red team mindset to bolster disaster preparedness.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced the final allocations for $475 million for seven Fiscal Year 2021 competitive preparedness grant programs. These allocations, together with the almost $1.5 billion in non-competitive grant funding announced earlier this year, total nearly $2 billion in FY 2021 to help prepare the nation against man-made threats and natural disasters.
“Telecommunication overload” is a commonly used term that is a regular feature of various emergency scenarios. However, one fact needs to be remembered. Although some copper carrier network pieces are still in place in the United States, nearly all new investment is going into fiber backbones and updated wireless services. Fiber networks are designed to handle extra capacity easily and wireless technology is advancing rapidly.
As part of the ongoing response, agencies across the U.S. government announced new resources and initiatives to protect American businesses and communities from ransomware attacks. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), together with federal partners, have launched a new website to combat the threat of ransomware. StopRansomware.gov establishes a one-stop hub for ransomware resources for individuals, businesses, and other organizations.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced the release of CRC SimPLER, a free, publicly available, online tool to help state and local emergency and public health planners prepare for setting up community reception centers (CRCs) to monitor people following a large-scale radiation emergency. To introduce CRC SimPLER, ASTHO and the National Alliance for Radiation Readiness are hosting a workshop on Monday, Aug. 23 from 1-2 p.m. ET via Zoom.
In May 2021, the USFS published a report describing the development and application of the Fireshed Registry in wildfire risk management. The Fireshed Registry is a geospatial dashboard and decision tool built in ArcGIS online, serving as the data warehouse for the Forest Service Scenario Planning Platform. Although the Fireshed Registry is not a public-facing application, its capabilities and plans for its continued development are described in detail in the report.
Volunteer and community organizations active in disaster (VOADs/COADs) operate best by using their four C’s: cooperation, coordination, collaboration, and communication. Emergency managers can build or strengthen this whole community capability in their own jurisdictions through public-private partnerships (PPPs), by performing the four E’s – empower, endow, educate, and entrust.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has published the results of the 2020 Privacy Technology Demonstration (2020 Demo). S&T hosted a first-of-its-kind event to understand the product landscape of technologies that can assist in protecting the privacy of individuals appearing in photos and videos.
Public safety agencies must balance integration and alignment of communications technologies with other competing priorities and funding needs. To address these needs, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), in partnership with SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC), released the updated Funding Mechanisms Guide for Public Safety Communications to assist public safety agencies in identifying funding sources for emergency communications projects.
CISA has released a new module in its Cyber Security Evaluation Tool (CSET): the Ransomware Readiness Assessment. CSET is a desktop software tool that guides network defenders through a step-by-step process to evaluate the cybersecurity practices on their networks.
The United States is fortunate to have highly effective vaccines that are widely available for those aged 12 and up. People who are fully vaccinated are protected from severe disease and death, including from the variants, such as Delta, that are currently circulating in the country. Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time.
In an emergency response, multiple groups of stakeholders such as city, county, state, and federal agencies are brought together to solve a crisis or execute a mission. While groups of individuals from within an agency may have a shared understanding of their mission, organization, hierarchy, and norms of engagement, proper coordination between distinct groups takes time, trust, and practice. By the nature of these missions, these are scarce and often intangible resources. Situational awareness through software and expert practitioners substantially increases the odds of mission success.
The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office announced the expansion of its Securing the Cities program to two additional metropolitan regions, Boston and New Orleans. This expansion will assist these regions with building capabilities to detect, analyze, and report nuclear and other radioactive materials.
National Incident Management System (NIMS) resource management guidance enables many organizational elements to collaborate and coordinate to systematically manage resources – personnel, teams, facilities, equipment, and supplies. The NIMS Guideline for Resource Management Preparedness supplements the NIMS Resource Management component by providing additional details on processes, best practices, authorities, and tools.
Quickly detecting and mitigating biological or chemical threats in the subway is critical for preventing the spread of hazardous materials should the unthinkable occur. However, technologies that are currently in use do not perform fast enough for a subway environment, and false alarms may cause unnecessarily disruptive and expensive closures. The DHS Science and Technology Directorate has been developing and perfecting various sensor technologies for public transit to help protect high-density urban areas against threats.