By Ron Kuban, Ph.D., past president, Canadian Risk and Hazards Network (CRHNet)
The evolution of Canada’s disaster preparedness will continue at an escalating pace. By 2050, I expect its practice to be as follows:
- The nature of risk will continue to increase in severity. We will face a growing number of catastrophic events, with higher intensity, broader consequences, and more costly destruction than experienced before. Specifically, the occurrence of climate and health-related disasters will become more prevalent, and of greater challenge for planners and responders alike.
- Most successful practitioners in the field will be generalists who are able to integrate diverse fields of practice and organizational cultures, natural collaborators, and exceptional communicators. These skills, more than just prior response experience, will become the critical hiring criteria.
- This field of practice will achieve professionalization; its practitioners will require formal education. However, the related theoretical framework, organizational structures, and operational practices will remain fragmented, without an integration of the currently-separate perspectives (i.e., emergency, disaster, crisis, business continuity, risk management, etc.).
- Governments’ financial commitment for emergency/disaster preparedness will continue to be focused on response versus mitigation; the commitment level will not increase. Funding by the public sector will increasingly be linked to public-private partnerships, mostly providing seed-funding for projects. Public-sector mitigation efforts will continue to trail preparedness; however, industry and multinational corporations will increasingly integrate mitigation with their business practices.
- Emergency preparedness by the public will remain unchanged, well below public sector expectations. However, the public will generally become more informed about disaster risks, response, and mitigation, particularly through social media and Internet sources (in that order).
- Technology will permeate all key facets of emergency management, with increasing emphasis on virtual communication and contact. AI will be utilized to identify risk, trigger alerts, assess damage, and determine desired public response strategies. Drones will be common-place tools. Governments will rely on meta data collected by the private sector.
- However, the good news is that our vulnerability will remain roughly unchanged. Human ingenuity will prevail, assisted by existential necessity, increasing awareness (public and political), technological advances, tighter regulations, and increasing grassroot and voluntary-sector engagement.
Dr. Kuban graduated with a B.A. from the Royal Military College of Kingston (Ontario), and completed his M.Ed. and Ph.D. at the University of Alberta. He has published extensively – over 130 articles plus three books – on diverse topics.
Ron is a consummate community volunteer. He served as Co-President of the Canadian Risk and Hazard Network (www.CRHNet.ca), served five years on the Advisory Committee for the Canadian National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, and in May 2011 was a member of the Canadian Delegation to Geneva for the UN Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Note from the Editor: This article was produced as part of the Time Capsule: A message to future emergency managers, resilience practitioners, and disaster risk reduction scholars series by HazNet. Read other time capsules here.