Ensuring Homeland Security
Friday, April 15, 2011
By Vince Siragusa
Protecting valuable infrastructure has always been a mission for communities and those responsible for their safety. From medieval moats harboring castles down to the high-tech surveillance, training, and weapons in today’s world, efforts are infinite in their attempt to avert the loss of lives and property that can come as a result of natural disasters, man-made hazards, and terrorist attacks.
This quest for security preparedness has become a greater part of our government’s attention, fiscal budget, and stated priorities than ever before. The Department of Homeland Security itself has seen its appropriations increase from roughly $20 billion in FY 2002 to $55 billion in FY2010. And while the idea of protecting a way of life is nothing new, the myriad of current threats—and potential fall-out from those events—has arguably never been seen on today’s scale.
The ongoing tragedy in Japan has provided us an unwelcome reminder of the overwhelming devastation that a single event can trigger. While reflection may not yet be prudent, given the need to address so many current vulnerabilities and great suffering, we have our own all too recent domestic events to remind us of the need for ongoing preparedness. Preparation is often complicated by the fact that the 300 million people who make up our own nation’s economy and community have become so mutually dependent on others. In many of these instances, there are no such things as geographical or jurisdictional boundaries to contain the catastrophe or limit its consequences. Because of that, successfully implementing security-related projects should leverage funding assistance with a multi-pronged, comprehensive approach in mind.
The first half of inclusive protection comes in the form of preparedness for if something happens. Crack open the guidance document for any security-related grant program and it is likely you will see a focus on training, exercise, mutual aid, information sharing, and equipment. The second half of protection should be tailored around the most appropriate response for when something happens. And if real-time implementation is true to the original intent, we should have a better trained, and better equipped, collection of first responders and community members.
As various vulnerabilities and threats are targeted, be cognizant that hazards pose two potential problems. While the immediate impact of a negative event may quickly come to mind, also recognize that many hazards must be addressed with respect to a cause and effect relationship. The same earthquake that might only last a few moments might give rise to dam failure. In turn, mudslides might occur making the roads impassable, inevitably impairing local evacuation efforts and so on. A consequence may rear its ugly head far after the initial issue presents itself—and, whenever possible, should be prepared for accordingly.
Adequate homeland security extends far beyond just keeping the nation safe against some enemy—both in grant application and project implementation. As various efforts from thousands of the country’s communities will collectively provide for a safer nation, recognizing your role in plugging a gap in national homeland security may help you to garner more support than primarily focusing your application on what your project can achieve locally. Respecting and isolating aspects of your local grant project that tie in with the “big picture” will more likely get your application noticed and your project funded.