Emergency preparedness involves more collaboration between agencies.

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In a recent article in Domestic Preparedness, Marko Bourne, a principal at Booz Allen Hamilton and head of the company's FEMA market team and its Emergency Management and Response practice, discusses what resilience means in terms of emergency preparedness and disaster recovery efforts. One point Bourne emphasizes is that true resilience requires "breaking out of operational and program silos at all levels of government" and "working with nontraditional groups that wield significant social influence."

Overcoming the silos 

Bourne speaks to the challenges that exist when real collaboration is lacking between agencies.

"Communities receive funding from various sources – Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. Department of Commerce, and others – and programs that often are not affiliated with each other. However, these funding partnerships – for example, FEMA Public Assistance and HUD Community Development Block Grants – sometimes create operational silos that may hinder resilience."

In order to overcome these challenges, it is essential for communities to take "a holistic, rather than unsystematic" approach to different programs. Bourne gives the example of a bridge that collapses due to a hurricane. When this occurs, it is not just the bridge that is affected. Business could also be hurt, and local governments may take a hit in terms of tax revenue. Explaining these repercussions, Bourne writes: "The economic ripples grow as private sector companies have their supply chain and workforce disrupted." 

By realizing these mutual interests, agencies are able to reduce risk and improve resilience, and in turn, better prepare for and manage their disaster recovery efforts. 

The Solution

By harnessing the power of both social media and community groups, Bourne asserts it is possible to improve disaster recovery and resilience. "What matters is the ability to register when new community power brokers surface as events unfold, and to understand how to enlist their help and support," he writes. Social media should also be used in a way that helps people work more effectively in disaster recovery efforts. Rather than controlling social media, it is essential to leverage it, "harness and work with it" to ensure you're deriving its greatest possible value.

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