Disaster Academia and Asset Management Systems
The maturation of the emergency management field is being driven in part by the developing institution of disaster academia. Older emergency managers are moving into semi-retirement, adopting new roles as educators and consultants. Accordingly we are seeing a rise in independent organizations that evaluate and accredit emergency management programs against a set of national standards. These standards are similar to the standards of property management we discussed in March, in that they evaluate an entire jurisdiction’s emergency management preparedness.
We have talked extensively about how training promotes readiness and resiliency in disaster response efforts. Practicing response scenarios is a proven method towards efficient and effective disaster mitigation. However, when it comes to developing standards for a jurisdiction’s preparedness, the focus must be on education. It’s the difference between knowing how and knowing why.
As Professor Robert Essenhigh, of the Ohio State University, was quoted in a September 2010 article in Emergency Management Magazine, higher-education in emergency management is: “the difference between being trained as pilot to fly a plane and being educated as an aeronautical engineer and knowing why the plane flies and then being able to improve its design so that it will fly better.”
The intersection between training and education is rooted in the discovery and implementation of new knowledge. This is related to the concept of total asset visibility. Emergency managers and property custodians who have the ability to leverage the data of their organization’s fixed and mobile asset inventory will be able to maximize the productivity of those assets while incurring significant financial savings.
Not surprisingly, mastering property and inventory management systems are an integral part to emergency management higher-education. The FEMA Higher Education Conference, which mandates a course of study that includes social science research and strategic leadership development, places particular emphasis on the collaboration between organizations. Resource sharing and agency interoperability are the cornerstones of modern emergency management and emergency management higher-education.
The modern emergency manager must be equally versed in the social science of emergency management while also demonstrating proficiency for fixed and mobile asset management techniques. Just as training and education intersect at acquiring new knowledge, so too do theory and practice intersect in the application of that knowledge. In this case the ability to maintain the concept of total asset visibility in order to effectively deploy fixed and mobile assets during a crisis response scenario while also being able to share those resources across jurisdictional boundaries as needed.