New ISO standard for urban resilience in development

There’s no stemming the tide, so city leaders need to build resilience in order to cope. Work on a new International Standard for urban resilience, led by the United Nations, has just kicked off, aiming to help local governments build safer and more sustainable urban environments.

The development of the standard is being led by UN-Habitat, the United Nations programme for human settlements

City living is where it’s at. The top 600 cities in the world house 20 % of the global population but produce 60 % of the world’s GDP, and the numbers are growing. It is estimated that, by 2050, 68 % of us will be living in cities), increasing the scale of impact when disasters strike. Which they will. In 2018, for example, more than 17 million were displaced by sudden-onset disasters such as floods).

Work has now started on a new ISO standard for urban resilience, aimed at supporting national and local governments build their capacity to face the new challenges arising from climate change and shifting demographics. It will define a framework for urban resilience, clarify the principles and concepts, and help users to identify, implement and monitor appropriate actions to make their cities more resilient.

Read entire post New ISO standard for urban resilience in development | Clare Naden |

Are you earthquake prepared?

Wednesday morning a large earthquake hit Southern California — initial reports saying it had a 6.4 magnitude and could be felt in Las Vegas.

Are you earthquake prepared Washington Emergency Management photo

Washington Emergency Management (WEM) took the opportunity to remind folks on how to be prepared for an earthquake.

If you feel an earthquake, drop, cover and hold, WEM said in a tweet. If you feel shaking and you’re near the coast, get to high ground right away. WEM says to assume a tsunami is on the way and don’t wait for sirens to get higher.

Read entire post Are you earthquake prepared? | KOMO News

Toronto unveils ‘resilience’ strategy to counteract future effects of climate change

The strategy includes other lofty goals: eliminating poverty, building green infrastructure and increasing government transparency.

In the coming years, the city’s climate is expected to become more violent and less predictable. Extreme weather events, like heat waves and violent rainstorms, are projected to become more common.
In the coming years, the city’s climate is expected to become more violent and less predictable. Extreme weather events, like heat waves and violent rainstorms, are projected to become more common.

Climate change will affect weather over Toronto and the city will need to invest in ways to adapt to significant meteorological changes, said the city’s chief resilience officer, Elliott Cappell, who was in charge of writing the 157-page document.

“Toronto is getting hotter, wetter and wilder, and of course that’s a result of climate change”

In the coming years, the city’s climate is expected to become more violent and less predictable. Extreme weather events, like heat waves and violent rainstorms, are projected to become more common. On Sunday, Lake Ontario water levels hit their highest point ever recorded and parts of the Toronto Islands were flooded. It’s the second time in three years that the city has seen such severe flooding.

Read entire post Toronto unveils ‘resilience’ strategy to counteract future effects of climate change on city | Matthew Lapierre | The Glode and Mail

ISO 22301:2019 What will change?

The first edition of ISO 22301 was launched in May 2012. It was the first truly internationally accepted standard on business continuity, and it consists of requirements to implement a Business Continuity Management System according to ISO Annex SL. As such, it stood in line with its prominent predecessors such as ISO 9001 and ISO/IEC 27001.

When ISO/TC 292 (ISO Technical Committee 292 on SEcurity and Resilience), its workgroup WG 2 – responsible for this standard – first asked within the community about the need to update it, there was an astonishingly little response.

We, as members, could not believe that nobody had the intention or desire to update this international standard. However, all of a sudden, the interest exploded and teh respective Project Team within WG 2 was challenged within an unprecendented volume of change requests concerning ISO 22301:2012.

Read entire post ISO 22301:2019 What will change? | PECB Insights


Washington introduces ‘resiliency’ plan to protect against 21st-century threats

The initiatives are part of the city’s “Resilient D.C.” strategy, a 160-page plan that is the culmination of the city’s two-year planning process.

The D.C. plan sets four goals: leveraging technology, fostering inclusive growth, mitigating the effects of climate change and improving public health.

Kevin Bush, who serves as D.C.’s chief resilience officer through a Rockefeller Foundation grant, told StateScoop that he designed the technology component of the resilience strategy — which includes 16 of the document’s 68 total goals — to enable the city to leverage, rather than “just respond to” technological advancements.

Read entire post Washington introduces ‘resiliency’ plan to protect against 21st-century threats | Ryan Johnston | StateScoop

Why natural disasters are getting more expensive

Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, and more costly. According to one estimate, natural disasters caused about $340 billion in damage across the world in 2017. And insurers had to pay out a record $138 billion. The $5 trillion global insurance industry plays a huge role in the U.S. economy. Insurance spending in 2017 made up about 11 percent of America’s GDP.

Natural disasters cost the USA $91 billion in 2018, according to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The report’s findings are a sign that the changing climate and increasing numbers of extreme weather events are having a significant economic impact, even as the Trump administration continues to undo Obama-era climate regulations.

Read entire post Why natural disasters are getting more expensive | CNBC

Preparedness and the Myth of Knowledge

Have you ever met someone who’s never ridden a bike, heard a song on the radio, received a piece of mail, pet a cat, eaten an apple, caught a cold or seen an ice cube? That’s because you’ve never been to North Sentinel Island, nor should you ever go.

A missionary recently learned, as many others had before him, that visitors here are greeted with spear tips. As one of the most isolated people in the world, the Sentinelese have honed an unyielding reflex for self-preservation, which is buttressed by the Indian government’s effort to benevolently quarantine the tiny island from the invasive cultures and diseases that traditionally drive traditional cultures to extinction.

On one of humanity’s darkest days, this endangered tribe emerged unscathed

But there are forces against which Sentinelese spears and Indian ships offer no protection. On December 26th, 2004 at 7:58am, a 9.1M earthquake off the coast of Banda Aceh, Indonesia triggered a tsunami that took 230,000 lives in countries throughout the Indian Ocean. The first massive wave would have struck North Sentinel Island at approximately 8:33am.

As a fishing population numbering in the dozens on an island that peeks at 400 feet, the Sentinelese’ survival seemed impossible in a disaster where casualties were rounded to the nearest thousand. Yet, on one of humanity’s darkest days, this endangered tribe emerged unscathed, and with vigor enough to fire arrows at the Indian helicopter sent to check on them. The Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarawa and Shompen tribes similarly thrived where “civilizations” buckled.

“The Knowledge Myth: If we have knowledge, we will act in our best interests based on that knowledge. Therefore, the distribution of knowledge will save us.”

As one of the few feel good stories to emerge from the Boxing Day tragedy, the triumph of these tribes over nature’s wrath made headlines: “Traditional knowledge saved ancient tribes from tsunami.” Headlines like that, which we typically swallow without hesitation, reflect what I call the Knowledge Myth. The Knowledge Myth goes something like this: If we have knowledge, we will act in our best interests based on that knowledge. Therefore, the distribution of knowledge will save us. 

What saved the Sentinelese? “Knowledge did”, said the Knowledge Myth, as we nodded in agreement, missing half the story.

The Knowledge Myth

The Knowledge Myth is pervasive in the arena of public safety. Let’s take it for a test drive to see how it holds up. The first Model T was manufactured in 1908, the summer of which saw 30 auto fatalities in Detroit alone. I’d argue that we had a working knowledge of auto hazards almost from day one. Even so, seatbelts only became standard in 1958, and only in 1998 did the actual usage of seatbelts by people like you and me become practice among 70% of Americans, heralding a precipitous and overdue drop in needless fatalities. Knowledge Myth: busted. Why did it take 90 years to address an undisputed and universally acknowledged risk?

I’m guessing you said stupidity. They were stupid and I am not stupid, therefor past mistakes do not apply to me. The Stupidity Myth is a convenient culprit when the Knowledge Myth fails. I get that the Stupidity Myth is comforting. I hear it often and call upon it myself when I’m feeling pissy and disappointed in our collective failings. But it’s a BS answer. Stupidity is not what kept us from buckling our seatbelts in the 70s and knowledge is not what saved the Sentinelese in 2004. Culture is the answer in both cases. And culture, simply put, is the product of what we expect of one another. I concern myself with one type of culture in particular: preparedness culture.

As FEMA has confessed, you can shower the public with resources, slogans and warnings over two decades without yielding results.

One year ago, I spoke to a packed auditorium in Portland, Oregon, where I provided a well-resourced and educated audience a vivid and irrefutable picture of the massive earthquake that will one day befall the Pacific Northwest. When asked if we should individually prepare for the event of a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake, 3,000 hands shot up. When asked if they expected one another to prepare for this same earthquake, four hands timidly rose. When there’s incongruity between individual commonsense and actual societal behavior, culture is the most likely culprit. History has proven countless times that culture determines which ideas, knowledge and practices are discarded and which become our salvation.

As FEMA has confessed, you can shower the public with resources, slogans and warnings over two decades without yielding results. If the soil isn’t there, the seeds won’t grow.

What can we learn from the Sentinelese – an isolated, spear-wielding, pre-industrial tribe whose way of life is utterly divorced from our own experience?

1.      The messenger of knowledge is at least as important as the knowledge itself:
Everything the Sentinelese knew about tsunamis they learned from someone they knew and trusted, a community member with a shared experience. Like the Sentinelese, you are influenced most by those whom you know, love and trust, and you have the most influence over those who know, love and trust you.

2.      Culture isn’t found in what we know, it’s found in what we expect of one another:
The Sentinelese clearly expected one another to run for high ground when they saw signs of the tsunami’s approach. I doubt they were mocking anyone’s paranoia. This is particularly remarkable as none of them would have personally witnessed those signs before 8:30am on that fateful day.

3.      Culture is a survival mechanism:
“Preparedness” is too small a word for the Sentinelese – they are living in a state of adaptation, like gills to a fish. Their adherence to their culture and its transmission from generation to generation – even through the generations that never saw a tsunami – has allowed them to continuously inhabit this remote corner of the world for 70,000 years.

Many of us are waiting for a disaster event that we have never personally experienced

Like the Sentinelese before the Boxing Day Tsunami, many of us are waiting for a disaster event that we have never personally experienced. Unlike the Sentinelese, we have not taken ownership of the cultural practices that might save us. Fortunately, our culture is not locked and isolated in time. Culture can and does change quickly when regular people make a conscious and courageous effort to stand as counter-cultural ambassadors of commonsense.

Those ambassadors influence those who know, love and trust them best, who themselves can become examples for others, and so forth. As the dominoes of social influence tumble, our perceptions evolve. Weird becomes normal, normal becomes expected, and somewhere along the way a tipping point is reach when the expected becomes cultural. Preparedness is too small a word for us.

This is about adaptation. It’s time for us to grow our own set of gills.

Study: Over 80% of firms suffer security skills shortages

The majority of security professionals believe it’s getting harder to recruit talent into the industry, according to a new study from Tripwire.

Become a Certified ISO 27001 ISMS Lead Implementer with ContinuityLink

The firm commissioned Dimensional Research to poll over 300 industry professionals back in February, in order to compile its Tripwire 2019 Skills Gap Survey.

Some 85% claimed their IT security department is already understaffed, and just 1% said they can manage all of their organization’s cybersecurity needs with a shortfall in skills. Almost all of those polled (96%) said they’re either currently facing problems recruiting or can see it coming.

Read entire post Over 80% of firms suffer security skills shortages | Phil Muncaster | InfoSecurity

The myth of ‘Whole Community’

You hope bad things won’t happen to you and you don’t like to think about them. So you don’t.

You don’t think about the many different varieties of disaster, small and large—and very large—that could affect you. Or that could affect your family, your neighbors, your city (or megacity), your state, and your nation.

The problem is that someday you will find yourself amid one of those disasters

The problem is that someday you will find yourself amid one of those disasters. That will be your moment of truth: a painful time that will come with a gift of insight—insight about the mistakes you made and the actions you did not take that would have increased your options or maybe even saved your life.

It’s not like you haven’t heard this before. Ads urging you to build a kit or make a plan are everywhere these days. From FEMA’s to the CDC’s Zombie Preparedness campaign to the American Red Cross’s Be Red Cross Ready program, enormous time and effort are spent badgering you to be prepared.

The problem is that this time and effort is wasted.

People don’t admit to shortcomings

Report Weve failed miserable at preparednessStudies conducted over the past 15 years show that campaigns such as America’s PrepareAthon, and National Preparedness Month, all aimed at individual households and communities, are not moving the resilience needle. In its 2014 report Personal Preparedness in America, FEMA cited research gathered over the course of 8 years that showed that the percentage of individuals who prepared remained largely unchanged.

Other national surveys report similar dismal findings. Although more than ninety percent of Americans think it’s important, fewer than 1 in 8 people say they have taken any steps at all to prepare for an emergency[1]. Even people who live in higher risk locations, like earthquake or tsunami zones, don’t do much to get ready.[2]

Worse yet, scientists tell us that people don’t admit to shortcomings when responding to these sorts of survey[3] which means even these dismal results may be overly optimistic.

What is wrong with people?

What’s wrong with us is that we are human, and each of us has been given that uniquely human gift called hope. Hope can be quite useful in our daily lives. For instance, what if instead of running off to work in the morning, we first took time to ponder all the bad things that could happen out there in the great big scary world? We might decide to stay home instead, curled up in a fetal position under a blanket.

While hope allows us to function in our daily lives unhindered by fear, it prevents us from doing some easy things now that will improve our situation when something really bad happens.

Have you heard the expression “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst”? It’s a good idea, but the data shows that we are skipping that second part. When it comes to the actual preparing, we punt. It’s too much work, too much stuff to buy, too many scary scenarios we don’t want to contemplate. So, instead of contemplating, we block everything out with denial as impenetrable as a brick wall.

A brick wall of hope
Instead of contemplating, we block everything out with denial as impenetrable as a brick wall

A brick wall of hope

The wall gives us comfort. It lets us believe, “It probably won’t happen to me”.

The vast majority live their lives surrounded by that brick wall. They are either inclined to prepare themselves and their families or they are not. That is just human nature.

But it cannot be true of the people, like us, who get paid to do these things.

The public depends on us to be ready to go to battle with the black swan. In the disaster business, we call that “owning the problem.” But because we are people too, disaster professionals inevitably struggle with that same brick wall. So, as the public points at us, we spend precious time and money creating campaigns that we use to point right back at them.

We justify this with that treasured concept in the disaster preparedness business: “Whole Community”.

“Whole Community and shared responsibility, across all layers of government and down to the individual, is a hallmark of this plan”
– FEMA’s 2018-2022 Strategic Plan

According to the Whole Community concept, everyone[4]—individuals and families, businesses, faith-based and community organizations, nonprofit groups, schools, you name it—is working together, hand in hand, to build a resilient nation.

If this sounds too good to be true, that is because it is

These days, individuals and families, businesses, faith-based and community organizations, nonprofit groups, and schools have a lot on their plates. Full plates—with things like fatalism, defiance, cost, misplaced confidence, complacency, faith, and good old-fashioned procrastination—thwart real progress in preparedness.

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but Whole Community is a myth. And, like all myths, the Whole Community myth contains a grain of truth, because there are plenty of people working to be ready for disasters. It’s just that the idea that it is happening spontaneously everywhere, or in some organized way, to increase our collective resilience is a fiction. Besides, it is classic muddled thinking to say that everybody is doing something, since it is the same thing as saying that nobody is.

the hardest job in the worldWhole Community is a story made up by disaster professionals. Some say it exists so that we can avoid responsibility; instead of pointing to ourselves as responsible to lead preparedness for the nation, it’s a whole lot easier just to point back at them.

It is undoubtedly true that individuals and families need to prepare for disasters. But that’s on them. It has little to do with us.

Because we are the emergency managers. We own the disaster.

The hardest job in the world

Scientists tell us that two million years ago, Homo erectus, our ancient ancestors, first walked upright upon the land. By that time, the brick wall of hope was already a well-established fixture within the mind of every Homo erectian—disasters having been a part of everyone’s life for as long as anyone could remember.

Humanity has been responding to disasters since that time, and our track record is mixed at best. Our track record with worst-case disasters, however, is not mixed. Throughout our long history and to the present day, catastrophic response is an unbroken series of abject failures.

No generation has ever effectively assisted massive numbers of its fellow human beings in the midst of catastrophe. There are some very good reasons for this. Large-scale disasters bring with them unique challenges. They affect everyone at the same time; they cross political boundaries and they create a demand for resources that greatly exceeds what is immediately available.

That is why it is the most difficult of human endeavors. It requires that emergency managers find and fix a multitude of urgent problems and unmet needs across a vast parallel universe…

  • …where the normal rules of logic don’t apply
  • …where the need is a hundred times greater than the resources at hand
  • …where a hundred times more problems exist than anyone has the capacity to engage
  • …where time is elastic, slowing down, then suddenly flying by
  • …where cellphones don’t work
  • …where roads are blocked…

But the fact that it’s difficult is no excuse for not doing it.

Despite the challenges, it is our job to assist our fellow human beings in their time of greatest need, and we must do it with dignity and respect.

So… what are we waiting for? Let’s get to work.

Emergency managers need to turn that finger around and begin to point it back at ourselves. We need to spend less time trying to predict the future, searching for bugs in the software or targets that need hardening and spend more time learning how to reconfigure ourselves to confront the unknown in a complex environment.[5]

There aren’t two ways to do this; there is only one. Disaster professionals all over the country must come together into a massive team of teams, an incident organization, a Great Machine; the bigger the disaster, the bigger the machine. The United States of America needs the ability to bring together a Great Machine—the size of a Google or even a Walmart—with the ability to communicate up, down, and across the organization in one day.

Kelly McKinney Moment of Truth
Kelly McKinney is the author of Moment of Truth, released in July by Post Hill Press.

All our assets must be engaged: first responders, government agency staff, National Guard soldiers, aid workers, construction workers, private employees, and volunteers from every city, town, county, borough, and parish across the country. The challenge is that every government agency, nonprofit organization, military battalion, and private company is occupied by and absorbed in a daily mission. Every piece is a separate silo, and only a compelling need can draw it away from that daily mission.

By coming together now, emergency managers can create muscle memory around this process—a straightforward process clearly understood by all—to bring the resources of the nation to bear in the early hours of the disaster, to reach deep into the system to buy, beg, and borrow everything we will need.

If all of this sounds daunting, it is. Yet, who can deny the nature of the threat or the urgency of the need? Again, there aren’t two ways to do this; there is only one.

Which means this sort of comprehensive, proactive, integrated, and all-of-nation planning is going to happen. It’s just a question of when—and whether it will be done the easy way, by figuring it out beforehand, or the hard way, in the aftermath of the next black swan.

[1] Ad Council, “Real Stories: Emergency Preparedness,” 2018, accessed at

[2] Deborah Wilson, “‘I’ll be OK’ attitude behind lack of disaster preparedness, study finds,” CBC News, 24 January 2018, accessed at

[3] Uscher-Pines, L., Chandra, A., Acosta, J., & Kellerman, A. (2012). Citizen Preparedness for Disasters: Are Current Assumptions Valid? Disaster Medicine Public Health Preparedness, 6(2), 170–173

[4] Including individuals and families (including those with access and functional needs), businesses, faith-based, and community organizations, nonprofit groups, schools and academia, media outlets, and state, local, tribal, territorial, and the federal government.

[5] General Stanley A. McChrystal, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World. Portfolio/Penguin, 2015

Government to pursue strategies to reduce Jamaica exposure to natural disasters

Finance and Public Service Minister, Dr Nigel Clarke, has announced that the government is taking steps to ensure that the country is able to withstand the effects of natural disasters in the post-International Monetary Fund (IMF) era.

“Jamaica has done too much work and made too many sacrifices to leave us completely exposed (…) to the potential fiscal impact of natural disaster,” Clarke said.

Jamaica ended its borrowing relationship with the IMF in 2016 and entered into a precautionary Stand-by Arrangement with the multilateral that will end in 2019.

But, like the rest of the region, Jamaica is vulnerable to natural disasters and the country is often forced to find billions of dollars to recover from devastating hurricanes. This often places significant pressure on the national budget.

Read entire post Gov’t to pursue strategies to reduce Ja exposure to natural disasters | Loop

Fire safety tips for the Christmas holiday season

Holiday fires cause injuries, death and thousands of dollars in property damage every year, and the Office of the Fire Commissioner and Emergency Management B.C. want to remind you how to stay safe.

While households should have some safety preparations in place, there are extra life-saving precautions recommended over the holiday season to prevent fires.

> Read entire article Fire safety tips for the Christmas holiday season | Kathryn Tindale | Vancouver Courrier

David Attenborough: ‘The collapse of our civilizations is on the horizon’

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the COP24 UN climate conference, in Katowice, Poland, Attenborough called climate change “our greatest threat in thousands of years.”

In the weeks leading up to the event, the UN asked people to send their thoughts on climate change. Attenborough was there to represent the public, by taking the “People’s Seat” at the conference.

He said: “The world’s people have spoken. Their message is clear. Time is running out. They want you — the decision makers — to act now.

Leaders of the world you must lead,” he added. “The continuation of our civilizations and the natural world on which we depend is in your hands.”

Read entire post David Attenborough: ‘The collapse of our civilizations is on the horizon | Mark Tutton | CNN