Format of Afternoon Breakout Sessions
The afternoon was set aside for breakout sessions that focused on steps toward building a more resilient nation, and more specifically around how to measure resilience progress and manage risk in our communities. Three of the committee’s recommendations from the National Academies report Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative (National Academies, 2012) provided the basis for the four workshop breakout sessions: (1) measuring progress through scorecard development; (2) national resilience scorecard implementation; (3) managing risk in communities; (4) and supporting and developing community coalitions (Box 3-1). Participants were provided with a list of questions that would be used to guide the discussions for each of these breakout sessions (see Appendix C for a list of participants and Appendix D for a list of questions).
Breakout Session Topics Based on the Committee’s Report Recommendations
Risk Management and Reduction
Recommendation 2: The public and private sectors in a community should work cooperatively to encourage commitment to and investment in a risk management strategy that includes complementary structural and nonstructural risk-reduction and risk-spreading measures or tools.
National Resilience Scorecard*
Recommendation 4: The Department of Homeland Security in conjunction with other federal agencies, state and local partners, and professional groups should develop a National Resilience Scorecard.
Support and Establish Community Coalitions
Recommendation 5: Federal, state, and local governments should support the creation and maintenance of broad-based community resilience coalitions at local and regional levels.
*Note that for the purpose of the afternoon workshop, the committee’s scorecard recommendation was split into two different breakout sessions: one that addressed scorecard development and one that addressed scorecard implementation.
Approximately 60 attendees were invited to participate in the afternoon breakout sessions based on their expertise, experience, and perspectives. Each participant was placed in a group that rotated through three of the four topics (see Appendix A for afternoon workshop agenda), and each of the topic areas was moderated and recorded by National Research Council staff members. At the conclusion of the afternoon breakout sessions, a plenary session with all participants was held. Staff members reported back to the entire group on the main points from the breakout discussions on the four topics. This chapter summarizes discussions from the breakout and plenary sessions.
NATIONAL RESILIENCE SCORECARD
The committee’s report called for the need to develop indicators to measure progress toward increasing resilience in communities and for such a basis of measurement to be initiated at a national level through a mechanism called a “national resilience scorecard.” The committee envisioned that such a scorecard would identify areas that merit priority, provide a baseline from which to measure change, and offer a systematic approach for measuring progress in building resilient communities (National Academies, 2012). The report recommendation identified the process of developing a scorecard as one that would involve engagement by all levels of government (federal, state, local), the private sector, and community groups and individuals. In addressing a national resilience scorecard, the afternoon workshop held two separate discussion breakout groups: one that focused on issues for developing a scorecard, and another that focused on issues for implementing a scorecard (see also Box 3-1).
The initial questions about scorecard development that the participants were asked to consider revolved around scorecard content and structure, scorecard application and process, and ensuring scorecard development both in the short and long term. During the discussions, additional questions emerged surrounding the issue of how the scorecard would be used and whether it would be used to compare communities, identify problems, or measure the resilience of a given community. Participants initially spent time discussing an overall vision for a national scorecard, what it would measure, and whether it might be a “catch-all”, to address as many factors as possible, or might be specifically tailored to a few factors relevant to resilience in a particular community.
General Considerations for Scorecard Development
In discussing how to develop a national resilience scorecard, several key considerations were raised by participants. These considerations included (1) identifying the purpose of the scorecard and how it will be used; (2) obtaining community buy-in; (3) ensuring the availability of data; and (4) establishing possible incentives for implementing and using the scorecard.
Several participants also noted the importance of having a scorecard developed for and by the community, and not developed solely by federal or state governments. The discussions emphasized that a “national” scorecard could serve as a template from which communities could refine and establish scorecards relevant to local risks and circumstances. Community buy-in to develop and use a scorecard would be based on clear identification of and agreement upon the purpose of the scorecard.
In reflecting on how the scorecard could be developed, many participants stressed the importance of creating a scorecard around information that is already available in order to tap into existing data and resources. A two-way system of reporting was identified as being of significance in a scorecard; for example, by sharing information between the federal and community levels, information gaps at the community level could be filled by federal officials who may have such information. Similarly, information gaps at the federal level about local circumstances could be filled by community members who may have that information.
In discussing potential incentives for communities to develop and implement a scorecard, a number of workshop participants mentioned that countries around the world are periodically rated and given an index of competitiveness. Resilience could similarly be proposed and described as a positive aspect of a community that could make the community stronger and more attractive, for example, to private sector investment. They also noted the importance of private sector involvement in scorecard development.
Scorecard Content and Structure
Workshop attendees identified several elements, categories, and metrics to consider in a national resilience scorecard. Some thought that a national scorecard would need to be applicable across multiple types of hazards and disasters. Others noted that a national scorecard containing too many elements could be too cumbersome to implement; one participant suggested that the scorecard initially contain a maximum of 12 elements. Most participants observed that the final number of elements in a scorecard adapted for a specific community would need to reflect the values of the community so that it could serve as a useful self-assessment tool. Participants considered the following elements for measuring resilience:
• Social and civic engagement (such as voter registration and neighborhood watches)
• Community engagement (such as blood donors)
• Preparedness committees
• Community networks
• Timeframe for return (period of time in which the community returns to normal levels of operation after a disaster)
• Financial fabric of a community
Participants discussed the importance of social engagement and connectedness. Those kinds of measures are reflected above in the first five bullets with the development of “community networks” potentially serving as an overarching feature that can strengthen a community. Community networks, some participants suggested, may also allow communities to connect with one another, providing opportunities to learn from the experiences of others. “Timeframe for return” highlights the significance of a community’s ability to return to their businesses, schools, and homes in a timely manner after a disaster. The ability to adapt and be flexible after an adverse event is an important element to consider in measuring resilience.
The strength of a community’s financial fabric is a factor in determining how quickly the community can recover and regain its footing after a disaster, many participants noted, and would be a critical factor to include on a scorecard. In ascertaining the financial health of a community, they raised an idea that is commonly used in the banking industry: conducting a “stress test” in which various scenarios and stressors can be used to determine how a community could respond post-disaster. Such a stress test could help to identify weak areas that need improvement. A stress test could also be conducted for preparedness and response so that local responders (such as police and fire departments) could be included in determining the resilience of a community. For example, the International City/County Management Association has assessments of this
nature underway, and it was suggested by workshop participants that these types of assessments could be a model for emergency management issues as part of building community resilience.
After discussing the potential content of and the measures applied to a national resilience scorecard, workshop participants addressed the need for scorecard content and measures to be carefully chosen. The incentive structures put in place can also encourage actions to increase resilience. One incentive structure proposed by a few participants was the concept of an accreditation process which would determine how communities measure up to certain requirements. For example, communities accredited as more socially engaged could receive a higher accreditation score, and those communities could be then have greater incentive to use the score to attract potential businesses and home buyers. The LEED certification process was raised in the committee’s report (see Box 4-1 in National Academies, 2012) and noted by some participants as a potential model for developing a way to measure or rate resilience in a community.
Many participants stressed the importance of synergistic opportunities to maximize efficiency and effectiveness, and how developing and implementing a national resilience scorecard will require balancing complexity with simplicity. Developing a scorecard, they noted, is not about reinventing the wheel, but being able to use existing conduits, frameworks, and systems, and being able to involve the community through conversations about the scorecard and how it will be used. To ensure that the scorecard is implemented consistently across communities and across various levels, the language used in the scorecard will need to be simple, understandable, and meaningful. In continuing with the example of using a maximum of 12 elements for the scorecard, several participants noted that it would be helpful to break the elements into smaller groups (for example, examining four elements at a time) so that the scorecard would have a better chance of being implemented through gradual employment of specific elements. Also, gradually rolling out a group of elements and adding those to the scorecard after a period of time would allow baselines to be established and aid in making future adjustments.
Engaging Stakeholders and Actors
Scorecard implementation will require advanced planning, methodical execution, and involvement from relevant actors and stakeholders at all levels, including those at the local, state, and federal levels as well as private and nonprofit institutions, some participants said. Community involvement will be
essential for implementing a scorecard, and therefore it will be critical for many efforts to be focused at the local level. One participant suggested that lessons could be learned from examining how communities self-organize, and to mimic principles gleaned from community engagement strategies. For example, local chambers of commerce can provide critical insights into various aspects of their communities.
Workshop attendees noted that the federal government would be instrumental in implementing the scorecard. One role of the federal government would be to set a research agenda, sponsor such research, and determine qualified research grant recipients to carry out the research. The federal government also serves an important role in generating and validating research data. Both the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have provided monetary contributions for measuring resilience. One participant mentioned that FEMA has generated a 2012 National Preparedness Report (see http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=5914), which includes a systematic matrix of data being collected that may be related to resilience. Another example was cited in which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has provided hospital grants for preparedness. The question was raised as to whether or not an interagency mechanism exists to engage multiple federal agencies on resilience issues to increase coordination, cooperation, data sharing, and transparency.
Outreach to the private sector and nonprofit institutions is essential, some participants emphasized, to help nurture potential partner relationships for developing the scorecard and to establish conduits for resilience information. Some examples of nonprofit institutions that could be partners include: the Council of Foundations, the United Way, the National Emergency Management Association, International Association of Emergency Managers, the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) Coalition. One participant mentioned the National Mass Care Strategy as a possible approach for incorporating stakeholder input to identify and establish goals and strategies that meet the needs of their communities. Furthermore, the most effective incentives for a community to become more resilient will not come from the government, many attendees said, but from other actors such as insurance companies and the banking industry.
Short- and Long-Term Implementation
Implementing a resilience scorecard will require consideration of tasks for both the short and long term. Several workshop participants mentioned that implementation will require integration with other existing data networks. For example, agencies that meet biannually to coordinate resilience data—such as
HHS, FEMA, and the Environmental Protection Agency—might be one existing node of such a data network.
In rolling out a scorecard, a number of workshop participants suggested that a beta test with 5, 10, or even 20 cities or counties would allow various concepts (such as determining the level of community engagement) to be tested. A beta test would allow scorecard developers to evaluate certain elements of the scorecard, identify potential gaps and how they could be addressed, and further refine future iterations of the scorecard.
As previously mentioned, increased resilience can be an important selling point for a community and could be a valuable marketing and promotional tool for a community that has overcome particular hardships (for example, a resilient New Orleans community attracting tourists to return after Hurricane Katrina). Many participants also stressed the importance of language and how the scorecard will need to be simple and understandable.
A scorecard could enable cities and counties to promote their achievements, and could be viewed as a tool to encourage constructive competition among cities and counties. Such competition, participants noted, could be seen as either a carrot or a stick: competition could spur communities to engage in more resilient ways, or the comparison could incite a fear of failure. Therefore, feedback on how scorecard implementation is progressing and how it is affecting communities would be important. While standards should be fair, many concluded, they should not be too rigid or too accommodating so that no one passes or fails.
Participants discussed the need for both short- and long-term development of a resilience scorecard. Although there might be information gaps at present, many did not view these as limitations and conveyed urgency for proceeding forward even in the absence of available data. They also cautioned that the scorecard not be directly tied to disaster management or be placed on the disaster management track, as national resilience is much broader than merely disasters. Resilient communities can be reflected in their robust local economies, excellent schools, and high-quality healthcare, for example. Therefore, one way to demonstrate how resilience could be measured could be to determine such factors such as crime rates. A decreased crime rate in the presence of resilience-building strategies could indicate an improvement in a community’s resilience, they suggested.
It also became clear during the discussions that the use of the term “scorecard” and how it was portrayed could affect its implementation and success. A few participants noted that the scorecard term could carry either a
positive or negative connotation, depending on the point of view: because scores can be tabulated and compared between communities and states, the terminology in and of itself could carry a negative connotation. Alternative names were suggested to “scorecard”: assessment card, engagement card, or check-up card. One participant noted that it would be helpful to tie the term back to the need for community involvement, and perhaps call it a “community health and wellness plan.” No single term emerged as the preferred term to replace the word “scorecard.” Also, to help bypass a pass/fail mentality that could emerge with any evaluation process, some participants suggested that the scorecard could be tied to an accreditation process or a credit rating model.
With a national scorecard that could be compared across various local and state jurisdictions, some communities or states may be hesitant to adopt a scorecard because of a fear that their jurisdictions could “fail” to make a certain grade. Furthermore, some participants noted that communities and states might engage in strategic behaviors to boost their scores, which could result in artificially inflated scores. It was also noted that it may be dangerous to attempt to quantify or place a metric on resilience because, as mentioned in Chapter 1, the exact definition of resilience could change over time.
Knowledge Base to Inform Risk
Collectively in the U.S. public and private sectors, a wealth of knowledge exists about disaster costs. Although this knowledge base is extensive in the United States, it has not been accessible, disseminated, or provided in a manner that is useful for the public, analysts, or decision-makers. Also, agreed upon definitions and methodologies related to disaster costs are generally lacking, and a single national database of disaster costs currently does not exist to aggregate such data. Most workshop participants identified a need to develop a historical database on land use, building codes, and assets which can provide information about a community and how those assets relate to risk. Although they thought that creating such a database is important, it was unclear who would identify, collect, supply, and maintain such information. Equally challenging is the question of how the knowledge base of disaster-related data can be translated to be useful to decision-makers.
Language and Framing of Risk
Workshop participants noted the importance of language in terms of risk management and resilience (Figure 3-1). The way risk is conveyed is significant
because of how it could provide valuable information which could influence behavior and action. The use of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 31000 for risk management has been helpful in providing a nationally agreed upon methodology that provides standards and guidance for the risk management process. However, some participants commented that the current practice of using risk management jargon to convey risk has made it difficult for both decision-makers and the public to grasp the concept of risk and to determine what the possible responses should be. If the ability to manage risk is a goal in increasing resilience, the vocabulary of risk would need to change so that both decision makers and the public can better understand risk and its consequences. In particular, one participant mentioned the need to examine the risk discussions in the context of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut’s decisions and responses to Superstorm Sandy in order to more fully understand the rationale behind those decisions and responses. In that way, future decisions could benefit from lessons of those experiences. Individuals from one breakout group suggested that a new smartphone application could be developed to help users understand hazards and risks in terms that are easily grasped by the lay-public.
The way that risk is framed is equally important, some workshop attendees noted. For instance, floodplain risk is typically presented in terms of percentage of risk per 100 years, which is a concept with which the public may not be familiar. Changing the range of information and how it is delivered can
affect decision-making capabilities. Also, the public prefers to discuss risk in terms of the benefits of action rather than the negative consequences of experiencing an adverse situation. Several workshop attendees suggested that the behavioral sciences need to be an integral part of risk analysis in order to understand how people react in a disaster. Participants then began a discussion that questioned whether the risk management framework is the right approach in terms of resilience. Risk focuses on protection against a threat, and while some attendees pointed out that resilience goes beyond the ability to bounce back from a specific disaster or adverse event, risk management will be one of many important parts of the resilience building process. In incorporating risk management practices, some attendees emphasized the need to develop a framework to outline the various levels of involvement and responsibility for various actors.
Role of the Public and Private Sectors
In the past, recognizing and delineating responsibilities as they relate to disaster management, determining whether those responsibilities belong with individuals or organizations, and identifying how those partnerships might function have been challenging. In moving forward, participants said that the public and private sectors will each need to play a critical part in helping to define roles, chains of command, and levels of responsibility so that actions can be more efficiently and effectively taken at various trigger points (for example, who is responsible when a house is on fire). The majority of workshop participants felt that a greater emphasis was needed on the public level of responsibility than on the private level, at the same time acknowledging that responsibility for identifying solutions to increasing resilience lies at every level.
Public Sector Involvement
The federal and state governments play a unique role in managing and mitigating risks for disaster events. The public sector could facilitate the risk management process in the private sector by integrating resilience into their strategic plans and by making a business case for resilience in risk management practices. The workshop attendees suggested a number of responsibilities that might be appropriate for the federal government to undertake:
• Provide a perspective on difficult or contentious local issues;
• Modify language to make risk management more engaging to the lay-public;
• Examine the role of government agencies and players that are best positioned to address the threats;
• Model what engagement would entail among the different state and federal agencies; and
• Conduct practice and exercise drills.
One participant put forth a cautionary note that federal and state governments not promise total recovery for private citizens, as that might lead to a situation where individuals could abdicate personal responsibility or involvement in recovery efforts.
Private Sector Involvement
Communities could suffer loss of revenue and capital as a result of damages and business interruptions caused by a disaster. Insurance companies were therefore noted by participants as serving a critical role in helping communities minimize and mitigate risk before a disaster and manage damages after a disaster. The local community itself already has a wealth of skills and resources into which it can tap during an emergency through groups such as the local chambers of commerce and volunteer fire departments.
Short- and Long-Term Strategies
Many workshop participants mentioned that both short- and long-term risk management strategies will need to be developed in the next 1-2 years and 5-10 years, respectively. A few items were considered immediate targets: determining appropriate language to better convey risk to the public; developing and establishing processes for disaster response; and incorporating behavioral sciences into risk analysis. For the short-term, they noted that some actions can be taken to define roles in collecting and translating the knowledge base, to develop a national database for assessing disaster costs, and to generate tools to help individuals self-assess personal risk. It would also be helpful to begin working with professional accrediting societies and their members (for example, emergency managers) to inform the next generation of professionals regarding risk management and resilience, the attendees noted.
Over the long term, several participants suggested that a paradigm shift was necessary in how resilience is viewed: rebuilding seems to be the status quo for the current definition of resilience, and the nation needs to move away from simply rebuilding and toward instilling a philosophy of resilience that includes change and adaptability. Long-term management strategies will need to consider short-term incentives to overcome obstacles. One example provided was to encourage insurance companies to engage their customers in an educational campaign to better understand and reduce risk, and to reward those who engage
in less risky behavior by reducing their insurance premiums. Long-term strategies for multiple sectors will need to involve well-defined responsibilities and incentives that can enable stakeholders to take action.
For both the short- and long-terms, a number of participants suggested that risk management strategies will need to be realistic and address the current infrastructure (both the built and natural environment) along with obstacles that will need to be overcome. For example, institutional barriers may impede rapid disaster recovery, and overcoming these barriers will require solutions that cut across administrative and political boundaries. Also, the current language of risk does not look across multi-hazard threats, which requires integration of elements and stakeholders who may not have interacted with one other in the past.
Community-based networks and efforts, which were referred to in this workshop session as community coalitions, will play an important role in strengthening resilience, many observed. Community coalitions are focused on certain interests and they have the ability to bring together a diverse group of people. By involving a variety of interest groups in resilience efforts (for example, those affiliated with schools, faith-based organizations, and local businesses), multiple generations of people from a diverse demographic within the community would also be brought together. Efforts taken by one local group can be duplicated in other localities, and the results could be magnified at the state and national levels. Therefore, several workshop participants noted the importance of taking advantage of these existing networks and tapping into existing local resources to implement resilience efforts on local, state, and national levels. They also noted the need to learn how to disseminate information and the importance of peer-to-peer networks and peer-to-peer learning.
Community Representation and Involvement
Attendees pointed out that everyone is a part of a community and is involved in some form of community in one way or another, whether through formal or informal mechanisms, and the number of existing community coalitions might actually be greater than originally thought. Several participants stressed the importance of not focusing efforts exclusively around “resilience” or “disasters”, as these existing groups have the ability to sustain themselves beyond an event-based effort. On the other hand, others suggested that there is a need to examine communities that have been through disaster scenarios in order to find examples of successful coalition efforts. Cataloging successful coalition efforts
can help communities to understand ways to effectively involve the entire community around resilience activities and can shed light on how these types of events galvanize a community to positive actions (for example, cataloging the various groups involved with post-Superstorm Sandy efforts).
Existing coalitions have the ability to express their needs and to identify some of the most appropriate incentives for making their communities more resilient. The private sector, a number of attendees noted, has not made more of an effort to support communities during and after a disaster, even though the private sector is a part of the community; one participant noted how companies large and small could be more actively involved in assisting individuals. They went on to suggest this lack of involvement might be due to lack of trust between the public and private entities and/or to the lack of incentives for private sector involvement. A need exists to show businesses how their efforts will benefit them over the long-term, and how companies of all sizes can be mobilized during a disaster. For example, in the aftermath of the 1994 Northridge earthquake in California, Disneyland saw the importance of working with the local government and other businesses (such as hotels and restaurants) to restore their business operations. One workshop participant suggested that a business case will need to be made for resilience, and that it might be useful to have a business school develop a business plan on the role of the private sector in a community’s resilience efforts.
Partnerships and coalitions will need to be greater than a single community, as local, regional, and national coalitions are necessary. Some organizations are coordinated around a single purpose (for example, cancer awareness groups), and it would be important to learn from their success in terms of engaging interested parties and maintaining long-term participation. Several participants emphasized that a successful coalition would need to have a clear purpose, otherwise coalition members may become disengaged over time.
Organizational Leadership and Planning
Developing the appropriate leadership and organizational capacity will be vital for sustaining collaboration efforts, many participants said. Loosely structured organizational networks provide the flexibility necessary to remain sustainable, as long as they are connected to anchored institutions. Loose organizational networks can allow new nodes to form and develop with ties to a central foundation. Coalitions may start as small entities and grow organically to involve the local government, private sector, and others, but will require the capable leadership and direction of a convener. In the case of local communities, for example, the mayor has such convening power and is often seen as a leader. A number of attendees noted the importance of leveraging the existing leadership
and networks of a community, and to gain support from those with the ability to weave the resilience agenda into these existing coalitions. Another group that has typically been overlooked is the group of land-grant universities, whose original mission is based on information outreach into communities. These land-grant universities along with other non-land-grant universities can serve as a powerful mechanism for organizing and disseminating efforts to build resilience, some participants noted. Establishing the role of state and federal government is also needed. Several participants described the ability of the federal government to build capacity with small amounts of funding and to play a large role immediately after a disaster event. However, the federal government might best be viewed as having a supportive role in providing mentorship and guidance to communities, because establishing resilience at the local and state levels is critical.
Many participants emphasized that community leaders need to be engaged in both short- and long-term planning efforts. The community should inform the coalitions of their needs, and efforts like developing and implementing a national resilience scorecard would need to include community engagement.
One particular organizational challenge to overcome as coalitions rally around resilience might be the issue of learning how to work across organizational silos. For example, churches have established mechanisms for helping each other, but may not have such established relationships with other groups.
National Academies. 2012. Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.