Before Disaster Strikes: Rate and Raise Public Preparedness Now

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A new policy brief from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University concludes that American cities need to develop new measures of preparedness and rapidly roll them out across all major cities.

From the policy brief, found here:

The American public is not prepared for major disasters. That will prove costly, including to the federal government, as more and new types of disasters are expected to occur. The new Security Council Resilience Directorate – Preparedness, as one of its first initiatives, should task the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to work with federal and non-federal stakeholders and independent experts to:

  • Develop agreed measures of public preparedness, and
  • Develop and execute cost-effective, innovative approaches for ensuring timely progress in preparedness.

In the revamped federal agency performance measurement system, public preparedness should be deemed a high priority measure for DHS, as well as for selected other departments who need to be made federal partners in this effort. The new Directorate should monitor the establishment of and progress in these measures.

The brief concludes, “More, more severe, and new types of disasters can be expected to occur as a result of new types of threats (e.g., biological, cyber, nuclear/radiological) and more as well as more severe threats due to increased global interconnectedness and climate change. Yet, most Americans are not adequately prepared to respond to or recover from a catastrophic disaster, and many expect the government to take care of them.”

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