As the profession continues to evolve in the new decade, our ability to reflect on the past allows us to see the path forward. In November 2019, ISC leadership held a summit to do just that; take time to reflect on our business and industry over the past twenty years so that we may progress and move forward into the decade to come.
Let’s take a few minutes to have an honest reflection of the industry we serve…
September 11th was a changing moment for the country, our industry, and many of us in the profession. The event highlighted our risk to the homeland, the necessity to invest in preparedness, and the recognition to prepare for unnatural disasters. More importantly, 9/11 was the catalyst for the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the realignment of FEMA, and the growth of the industry. The event also stimulated a massive amount of funding. However, in retrospect this period also highlights that we, as a profession, could have been better stewards of these fiscal investments and to build a foundation for preparing the future. On the flip side, the insurgence of funding spurred the rebirth of the profession through academic programs offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in the vocation.
A few years later, we got a not-so-subtle reminder with Hurricane Katrina and the other 2004/2005 hurricane events, that we must not disregard the power of Mother Nature and the necessity to prepare for all hazards. Hurricane Katrina also reminded us that all disasters are local and that politics in disaster are not only a reality but can negatively influence our ability to manage the event. Despite the opportunity to learn from Katrina, Hurricane Sandy was yet another reminder of the vulnerabilities that exist to our social and built environments. Most importantly, Hurricane Sandy was a reminder that despite the huge investments, we are still behind in preparing our communities for disaster.
Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy also served as sparks for the first of many legislative movements to improve the profession and disaster recovery. The Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2007 and the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2012 that followed six years later, serve as just a couple samples of many legislative attempts to help fix what’s wrong. These attempts to fix what’s wrong and developing programs to improve what we are doing also serve as examples of what all too often plagues the discipline. Our profession has too often relied on the wet-noodle approach (throw it on the wall and see if it sticks) to make decisions, improvements, and enhancements. However, over the past several years we have seen a growing appreciation of evidence-based research and how the application of scientific methods can inform decisions and actions. These investments in research will also help to build our scientific knowledge base and serve as a foundation to further the profession and build its integrity.
Over the past two decades we also saw the exponential growth of existing and new threats. From active shooter events to wildfires to public health emergencies, our communities have had to adapt to new hazard threats. For example, from 2000 to 2018 more than 2,500 people have been killed in the US from 277 active shooter incidents as defined by the FBI. Similarly, we also saw an exponential growth in wildfires and in 2017 and 2018 alone and over 18 million acres burned resulting in over $44 billion in insured and uninsured loss. Additionally, we witnessed several devastating public health outbreaks with the 2009 H1N1, the 2014 Ebola, and the growing threat of the Zika virus. These are just a few of the countless number of examples of why the industry must continue to evolve and adapt to address emerging threats and the effects of climate change.
The second decade closed out with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and yet another reminder of our communities’ vulnerabilities and an honest test of our industry’s true capacity to effectively manage multiple simultaneous large disasters. There were also several examples of how the integrity and credibility of the profession is severely damaged when misappropriated with waste, fraud, unlawful violations, and mismanagement. The end of the decade also highlighted the necessity for the profession to uphold a high-level of ethics and professionalism and hold those that violate this accountable.
We at ISC have learned a lot over the past two decades from our clients and partners and we are excited to leverage this in the decade to come. We have seen ISC grow and adapt to the changing markets, and are excited to realign our services, talents and innovations to best meet our client needs and the markets we serve. We have also been very proud to lead in the industry in the application of evidence-based research to create new strategies and innovations, as well as maintaining a high standard of ethics and integrity with our customers, partners, and industry stakeholders.
We are excited to tackle the challenges and develop solutions as we embark into a new decade.