into collaborative networks, and encourage regular reassessment of collaborative missions, goals, and practices.


As populations continue to grow and migrate to urban areas, devastation caused by disasters will increase. In developing countries, disasters tend toward a higher rate of fatalities, in part due to inadequate infrastructure, lack of building codes, and poor land use. In the developed world, the cascading consequences of disasters increase as supply chains and critical infrastructure become more interdependent in a global economy. Combined decadal economic and insured losses to natural disasters have increased by a factor of nearly 7 since the 1980s.

As global climate changes, natural disasters, such as hurricanes, coastal storms, floods, droughts, and wildfires, may become more frequent and more intense. Given projections related to climate change, combined with demographic and economic trends that suggest population growth in higher risk coastal areas, the nation could face a future of more disasters, resulting in greater loss of life, greater economic impacts, and greater social disruption. Even in a moderate climate, disasters and technologic disruptions can trigger serious and cascading effects; for example, the 2010 winter snowstorms on the mid-Atlantic coast closed the federal government for five days at an estimated cost of $100 million a day.

The increasing pace of social change, innovation, and technologic advances can combine to create additional vulnerabilities. Regional and global dependencies may make it difficult for individual business operations or entire industries to tolerate disruptions that occur on the other side of the globe. Current inventory and delivery strategies and outsourcing models can result in profitable business, but they leave businesses vulnerable to technology failure. This was the case following the Icelandic volcano eruption in 2010 that grounded a large percentage of global air travel. Local and international commerce worldwide dependent on rapid inventory shipments were severely stressed. For example, commercial flower growers in Africa could not deliver their products to their European markets.

Nationwide, emergency-management policies and systems highlight an all-hazards approach to disaster preparation. Such approaches call for formulated emergency-management responses to likely threats, such as release of hazardous materials, earthquakes, or terrorist attacks with weapons of mass destruction. The committee recognizes the challenges in mobilizing communities against low-probability but high-consequence events, and that particular types of hazards—such as pandemic influenza, bioterrorism, and chemical hazards—require specialized expertise and the development of specialized collaborative subnetworks; however, it also finds that communities prepared for the most common disruptions are those most likely to adapt in the face of more severe or unexpected threats.

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