Challenges and opportunities arising at various levels emerge as upcoming trends in emergency management. Generally, the emerging trends, either posing as challenges or opportunities, constitute the factors that impact the future direction of emergency management. The emerging challenges and opportunities arise at the professional, national or the global levels. The paper provides a description of various elements as entailed within the Federal Emergency Management Agency – FEMA chapter 15 as follows;
In the course of managing emergencies, there are a number of major challenges that are emerging globally. Among these challenges are global climate changes, cumulative risk aversion, increasing levels in income disparities, increasing resource shortages and the fast growing population as well as the population density (Federal Emergency Management Agency 2).
Effects of Climate Change Changes; Extreme Events
Global climate change is a fact, and its profound effects are widely felt. Beginning the 20th Century, the world’s geographical nature was characterized by reduced snow cover, fluctuations in the precipitation patterns, increased global temperatures and increasing sea levels. It has been discovered that the changes in the global climate are increasing, and its effects are already being felt with other effects yet to be felt in the future.
Several significant climate change effects encompass escalations in the number of extreme events (Mileti 19). As such, as extreme drought persists on one end, there is a greater severity of storms and floods on the other side. The unprecedented fluctuations in the global climate have led to the emergence of extreme events. In susceptible areas, extreme precipitation results to flash floods; however in the plains, extreme drought conditions can be felt as a result of climate change. Severe drought leads to disruption of agricultural activities in agro-economic based backgrounds.
Sub-Saharan Africa is one region that has felt the impact of the global climatic changes (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development). As a result of the fluctuating climatic changes, reductions in the arable lands and water scarcity have emerged as problems to the people in this region. In managing emergencies as a result of global climatic changes, drought and floods have emerged as challenges that have to be dealt with.
Effects of Population Growth
Statistics indicate that the general world population is rapidly increasing with a postulation increase of up to 50 percent in the next fifty years (Böhmer 229). A rapidly growing population calls for increasing demand for water, food and energy. Developing countries of Africa and Asia, which apparently have records of enormous population growth rates, might ultimately experience political instability if they fail to meet the said needs for their respective citizens.
Population increase is characterized by heightened levels of social, political and economic interactions among individuals and also densely populated towns. Potential catastrophes such as terrorist attacks and natural disasters are eminent in these densely concentrated towns. For instance, the scenario witnessed at the New Orleans’ Hurricane Katrina could have been worse had the storm been stronger. More deaths and damage could have been reported had the storm hit the east of the in contrast to hitting the west as it occurred. More so, the magnitude was only a Category 3. Otherwise, it would have been so catastrophic with far worst serious damages and high death toll.
Increased interactions among individuals and businesses are as a result of the densely populated cities and the accumulated wealth in these cities. Resources, money and interrupted information flow can indirectly contribute to disasters without the actual involvement of the geographical space. Losses from the resultant disasters can be felt in other different geographical locations from the actual scene where the event took place.
In the wake of the 21st Century, there are also thrilling opportunities that are emerging in the course of managing emergencies. The rising global opportunities actually have impacts on emergency management. Despite some of the presenting opportunities having negative effects, it prudent to acknowledge and appreciate the positive impacts that have come along with these opportunities. Among the emerging global opportunities include the revolutionary technologies, the increased levels of understanding hazards based on the scientific aspects as well as the responses from the society (Böhmer 230). On a broader aspect, the aforementioned are the emerging global opportunities in emergency management; however, there are some key sub-disciplines that present themselves as opportunities in dealing with emergencies. These include data collection and analysis methods, emergency preparedness, response and recovery tools and methods among many others, both existing and upcoming.
Role of Data in Hazard/ Vulnerability Analysis
In the 21st Century, information and data have increasingly and characteristically stored in systems that can be interconnected. This has proved to effectively and efficiently enhance integration in many aspects of the society, emergency management included. The role and importance of computers in risk identification, data collection, and analysis in the case of emergency events, cannot be underestimated. The information technology forms in emergency management include cellular communication, remote sensing, computing hardware and software and global positioning as well.
Over the years, logical data on disaster losses has been a thorny issue in emergency management. Such data play an important role in assessing the damage and in the process of accountability of losses. The integration of computer programs such as HAZUS in emergency management facilitates analysis from credible disasters. With the information from such data, projections can be made on the costs of emergency preparedness and hazard mitigation.
Tremendous amounts of useful data are easily accessible from various agencies such as USGS, NOAA and FEMA via the internet. In analyzing community hazard and vulnerability, there is an upsurge in the availability of the data required. In many ways, these techniques have reduced costs in managing emergencies and also improved the efficiency of emergency management (Walle et al., 31).
Geographic Information Systems (GISs) have been among the notable advances in emergency management in the information technology aspect. Spatial analysis, mapping and database management have been facilitated by the increased availability of these systems.
Emergency Response and Recovery
In the recent years, several developments have been made and noted regarding the warning systems, forecast and integrated detection. In responding to emergencies, several new technologies have been advanced towards predicting and detecting catastrophes as well. Appropriate and effective technologies for predicting hydrological and meteorological hazards such as floods, tsunamis, tornadoes and hurricanes have been advanced in the recent past (Drabek & Hoetmer 19). Recording and sensory gadgets have also been invented and advanced to counter the aforementioned hazards. Communication devices such as cellular phones, computers, geographical positioning systems (GPS), satellite sensors as well as digital cameras have been invented and designed to facilitate quick response to emergency situations.
The adoption and use of these technologies are growing at a fast and encouraging rate. Sometime back, sirens were the only devices that could offer prompt warnings in case of emergencies; however the advent of telephone-based alert systems has aided further in initiating responses to emergencies. Further, old systems are getting replaced with new revolutionary systems, for instance the ‘Emergency Alert System’ has replaced the former ‘Emergency Broadcast System’.
Looking at the short term recovery phase, it is quite clear that majority of the technologies supporting emergency response also go a long way in aiding the disaster recovery process. The GPS devices, mobile phones and computers play a big role in the assessment stage of disaster management. Retrieval of information from these devices is reliable and easier as they are capable of holding memory. In case a disaster occurs, these devices facilitate easier retrieval of locations of critical institutions such as hospitals, schools as well as other hazardous facilities and buildings. Furthermore, assessors can access these devices and get the desired information with the help of other computer retrieval programs. The assessors can directly input their findings into these databases and utilize wireless technology to transmit their assessments to the relevant authorities (Walle et al., 29)
Summary of the Global Challenges and Opportunities
The emerging challenges and opportunities have impacts on the emergency management. It means that the challenges require appropriate measures from various stakeholders so as to solve and also prevent emergencies or disasters. On the other hand, the presenting opportunities need to be harnessed further and extensive research done to improve their relative efficacies while looking for ways to prevent any unforeseen negative results.
Böhmer, Alexander. "Organisation For Economic Cooperation And Development." Handbook of Transnational Economic Governance Regimes (2003): 227-242. Print.
Drabek, Thomas E, and Gerard J. Hoetmer. Emergency Management: Principles and Practice for Local Government. Washington: International City Management Assn., 1991. Print.
Mileti, Dennis S. Disasters by Design: A Reassessment of Natural Hazards in the United States. Washington: Joseph Henry Press, 1999. Print.
Federal Emergency Management Agency. Principles of Emergency Management: All Hazards, All Communities, All Resources, All Four Phases. Washington: Federal Emergency Management Agency, 1998. Print.
Walle, Bartel, Murray Turoff, and Starr R. Hiltz. Information Systems for Emergency Management. Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, 2010. Print.