Cities and communities are increasingly moving to a resilience model for emergency preparedness. This means that preparing ahead of time is preferable to relying on a traditional risk-reward model.
Resilience has two phases: the first is where most communities are currently. They have a person and/or department that oversees emergency preparedness. They conduct drills, plan for the deployment of resources, educate and encourage the public to be prepared and train their first responders; phase two is initiating a vision for the post event wherein the city-state recovers and thrives as a result of the crisis.
One of the main proponents of this new strategy is the well-known Rockefeller Foundation. The have funded 100 cities globally to appoint a Resilience Officer. Many North American cities have a Chief Resilience Officer who is paid by the Rockefeller Foundation.
When a city adopts a resilience model it means that it may go as far determining that the city is more vulnerable to a disaster because of income inequality in the city or it may initiate community gardens to ensure that the food supply survives a natural disaster. Resilience is going beyond reacting on the day or week of the disaster to building a society that can keep going the day after the disaster.
Until recently, the risk and reward model was very much the de rigueur when it came to earthquakes. At a recent government-sponsored meeting I attended on Earthquake Early Warning remarked that the Early Warning System could never be used and may be completely forgotten 200 years from now.
He makes a point worth considering: how far do we want to get away from the current paradigm of risk reward -emergency preparedness model to the resilience model for earthquakes? Yes, floods are inevitable for New Orleans and Hurricanes for Florida. But is the Big One a certainty and to what degree should we spend today's wealth on managing its aftermath?
By Diarmuid O'Dea