Facing the challenge of emergency management
Scholar in residence and former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart welcomed participants to the Third Public Management Colloquium: American and European Public Administrations in Comparison on Thursday with a challenge to emergency management experts.
Citing Stephen Flynn, author of “The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation,” Hart suggested that the United States can “take away much of the terrorists’ power if the terrorists understand that our systems will be functional again in a short time.”
Hart, who co-chaired the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century, which forecast a terrorist attack on U.S. soil nine months before the 9/11 terrorist attack, has played an influential role in developing emergency response systems and homeland security policies since the attack.
The colloquium focused on the systems and policies for addressing emergency planning, prevention, response and recovery efforts in the United States and Europe.
Associate Professor Brian Gerber noted that 70 percent of the presidential disaster declarations since 1964 have been weather-related. Despite that these are fairly well understood situations, he said response teams often face difficult challenges, such as a shortage of resources, lack of good coordination among agencies and perverse incentives that encourage development in high-risk areas.
Researcher Anniina Autero from the University of Tampere, Finland, noted that the structure for emergency response is “really messy” in the European Union as well. “There are a lot of agencies and they don’t always cooperate well,” she said.
To illustrate her point, she said that the EU agreed to establish a universal 112 emergency phone system in 2008, but some countries continue to maintain old systems. Italy, for example, has a 118 emergency number.
“It’s about technical issues, but it’s also about political control,” Autero said.
The colloquium, sponsored by the School of Public Affairs, also features presentations by
Jarmo Vakkuri, professor of local public economics at the Department of Economics and Accounting, University of Tampere, Finland; Esa Kokki, research director at the Emergency Service College, Finland; Daniel Nohrstedt, assistant professor at the Swedish National Defence College; Matthew Mingus, professor and senior governance specialist at Western Michigan University; and several members of the SPA faculty.
The program continues through Saturday.