EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation — February 27, 2008

The Megacommunity
A Group Discussion on Cross-sector Collaboration for Preparedness

Stephen J. Krill, Jr.
Senior Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton, McLean VA

David Sulek
Principal, Booz Allen Hamilton, Herndon VA

Avagene Moore & Amy Sebring
EIIP Moderators

The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. A raw, unedited transcript is available from our archives. See our home page at http://www.emforum.org

[Welcome / Introduction]

Avagene Moore: Good morning/afternoon everyone and welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum. Our topic today is The Megacommunity: A Group Discussion on Cross-sector Collaboration for Preparedness. We have touched on some similar themes of collaboration and citizen involvement in past discussions, but the idea of a megacommunity provides what we think is an interesting perspective.

If you have not already looked at them, we have pre-posted a list of ten discussion questions, which you can access from today's Background Page at http://www.emforum.org/vforum/080227.htm. We will start off with introductory remarks, and then I will be pasting in the questions one at a time. After each question, our speakers will input their comments, and then we will open the floor for YOUR comments.

Now it is my pleasure to introduce today's speakers, both of whom co-authored an article titled "When There Is No Cavalry" with Douglas Himberger, which introduces the megacommunity concept in the context of emergency management.

Stephen J. Krill, Jr. has more than 18 years of professional experience, with a distinguished record in emergency management, physical and information security, and risk assessment. A Senior Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton, he serves as a front-line manager for homeland security and emergency management, primarily for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Stephen played lead operational roles at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Stephen also responded to the 9/11 terrorist attack against the Pentagon and has participated in more than 50 exercises, including serving as a lead planner and controller for "Top Officials" (TOPOFF) 3 and 4, PINNACLE 2005 and 2007, and Forward Challenge 06.

David Sulek is a Principal with Booz Allen Hamilton's Global Security Team with 15 years of strategy, policy analysis and general management consulting experience. Dave leads a team of policy analysts focused on homeland security, critical infrastructure protection, information sharing, and public-private partnership issues.

Current and previous clients include the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Preparedness and Policy Directorates, the Office of the Director for National Intelligence's (DNI) Program Manager for Information Sharing Environment (PM-ISE), the National Communications System (NCS), and the President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC).

Dave also participates in numerous internal projects to develop intellectual capital in the areas of information sharing and national preparedness issues.

Welcome to you both and thank you for being with us today. I now turn the floor over to Stephen to start us off with some introductory remarks.


Stephen Krill: Thank you very much, and I welcome everyone to today's forum. In a few weeks, Palgrave Macmillan will publish the Booz Allen Hamilton book entitled Megacommunities. Its premise is relatively simple.

Today, leaders recognize they face modern challenges - such as protecting the environment, responding to large-scale disasters, stopping the spread of infectious diseases - that are so complex and far-reaching in their geographic impact that no single organization can adequately address them unilaterally.

Government agencies are beginning to turn to an approach we have coined megacommunity - a public sphere in which public, private, and civil organizations join together to address a compelling issue of mutual importance. Specifically, we argue there are five core elements to a megacommunity:

  1. Tri-sector involvement: the public, private, and civil sectors must all be involved
  2. Overlapping vital interests: members share a compelling reason or need to address an issue of mutual importance
  3. Alliance: members demonstrate their commitment by establishing an organizing framework for working toward shared goals
  4. Network structure: cross-boundary, collective participation and problem-solving activities create the social network that underpins true collaboration
  5. Sustainability and adaptability: over time, the megacommunity becomes institutionalize and capable of evolving

Our article "When There Is No Cavalry" argues that the State of Florida, faced with the devastation of Hurricane Andrew and the annual rite of dealing with the threat of hurricanes, painstakingly has developed a comprehensive, collaborative approach--an emergency management megacommunity.

If Florida's experience has served to underscore the effectiveness of the megacommunity, then the Gulf Coast's experience with Hurricane Katrina vividly illustrates the devastation and misery that can occur in its absence. In the aftermath, FEMA and various state and local authorities were blamed for their lack of preparation and response to the unfolding disaster. FEMA was singled out by some critics as the primary culprit.

We argue FEMA did not fail, nor did individual state or local agencies. It was the megacommunity that failed, or - more accurately - failed to exist. The preparedness stakeholders, though interdependent, were not ready to respond in concert to the disaster. Because they had not rehearsed or prepared together, they could not act effectively as individual organizations. Since Katrina, FEMA has set for itself the admirable goal of becoming the world's preeminent disaster management agency. But the agency and its partners can unlock its full potential only by embracing and nurturing the preparedness megacommunity upon which it depends.

We uncovered six guideposts that can help initiating groups - whether they are government agencies, private-sector corporations, or NGOs - begin a responsiveness-oriented megacommunity:

1. Identify and Empower Stakeholders. The unpredictability of disaster events requires not just a full panorama of allies, but creative and engaging ways for them to participate from the beginning. U.S. Northern Command, for example, maintains an "NGO desk" to mobilize support from the civil sector. The desk is run by employees of the Humanitarian International Services Group, a non­profit that specializes in identifying, mobilizing, and managing private-sector resources in response to a disaster.

2. Be an Initiator. Florida state officials played an essential role by convening the state's disaster preparedness megacommunity. This involved engaging publicly elected officials at the state and local levels emergency management officials and professionals, first responders, public health professionals, private-sector and civil organization experts, academic leaders, and others. The key was engaging these players as full partners.

3. Embrace Interdependence. During a crisis, effective medical assistance cannot be provided if hospitals lack electric power; if various police jurisdictions don't work together to provide safe, open roads for travel; or if vehicles are not available to deliver water and medical supplies and to remove medical waste. Plan, train, and rehearse the methods by which these separate but interrelated organizations will function together if a crisis occurs.

4. Allow for Ambiguity. Accept that your organization will have overlapping responsibilities with other organizations. For example, in the U.S. federal government, the Interior Department, Health and Human Services, Department of State, DHS, and U.S. Northern Command have all been assigned crucial but sometimes overlapping roles in the fight against pandemic influenza. Rather than ignoring this reality or resisting perceived encroachments on their turf, these organizations - if they want to succeed - will have to communicate, negotiate, and decide together in advance of a disaster how they will manage their common responsibilities.

5. Reward Collaboration. Everyone knows collaboration is a must, but organizations and people often need a push in the right direction. Instead of protecting their turf by punishing cooperative behavior, agency leaders should create incentives that encourage it. And, of course, example is the best teacher: How much planning and training are you doing with stakeholders in your preparedness community?

6. Strengthen Your Social Networks. Many officials have learned through sad experience that an emergency is not the time to start exchanging business cards. The more contacts that preparedness leaders have already developed in the community, the more effective their networks will be in facilitating preparedness. An important part of megacommunity activities is establishing the trust and rapport ahead of time that will be needed during a crisis.

We believe the megacommunity approach provides greater adaptability, allowing the entire community to call on an ever-expanding circle of resources, capabilities, and talents during catastrophic events. The concept supports full partnerships across all sectors to capitalize on the very best ideas, ingenuity, and innovations for improved emergency management.

That concludes our introduction, and I will now turn the floor back over to our Moderator to start the discussion.

Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Stephen, and now we will move to our first discussion question. After the speaker responds we look to you in the audience to add your experience and responses to the question.

[Group Discussion]

Question 1. : We have often heard that when it comes to planning, the principal benefit is the process. How does "megacommunity" collaboration enhance the process?

David Sulek: This is an excellent question, and I would add a nuance. Well constructed planning frameworks do often result in good, thorough processes. What we would argue is that good planning is only possible when all partners have a voice in how plans are formulated and constructed.

Traditionally (although not exclusively), planning efforts in the United States are driven hierarchically. Take the military for example. Plans were driven top-down with the goal of deconstructing the "threat" or "problem" to a set of constants and variables. Plans would then assume these constants as, well constants, and focus their energy on the variables. The actions of all affected parties could then be coordinated.

The megacommunity approach acknowledges what many realize -- when dealing with complex problems, it is increasingly impossible to deconstruct to a set of constants with a few variables. Hurricane Katrina shows this -- there were so many variables, so many permutations, impacts difficult if not impossible to predict. The megacommunity approach argues instead for greater horizontal integration and collaboration.

In other words, the solutions to these problems no longer reside in the sole province of FEMA or state emergency management agencies. These types of disasters require contributions from a wide range of actors (local governments, the private sector, NGOs, charitable organizations, etc) who each should play a role and have a voice in driving (not just being put in the position of responding to) the planning process.

Audience Responses:
Ric Skinner: I believe that the recognition and importance of Interoperable Communications, both voice & data, are critical success factors in establishing a megacommunity.

Cali Ellis: Clearly, competition for funding is a major component.

JRB Fairfax Va: I suggest an initial effort at 'megacommunity' should include the community implementable effort at geographic 'jurisdiction' overlap and cooperation, since that is a more 'visible' form of the megacommunity concept.

Ric Skinner: Data silos, turf battles, egos, funding, a lack of a governance for the collaborative are all obstacles

Kevin Maloney: Since 2002 I have administered a "megacommunity" of about 250 members in Western NY / Southern Ontario. It includes police / fire / EMS / public and private critical infrastructure. As an intelligence officer for a medium sized city police department, I found that in order to get a good 3-D intelligence assessment of my community, I needed to find partners in the other sectors willing to trust me with critical information that they owned, and that I needed. I use a secure web portal compartment to house several different organizations. It also allows for common encrypted secure communications between user/operators. I can now instantly reach between say fire / hospital and a private energy generator in real time to address an issue. It is the organic way to address the all hazards/all threats/all crimes approach.

Mark Baker: I think that what is meant by the question is that the very act of participating in the process encourages collaboration. Thus the result is the development of a web of participants, the mega community, rather the just the development of a plan.

Brit Weber: The biggest roadblocks to collaborations are apathy, turf conflicts, misunderstandings, narrow-mindedness, and leaders who are busy with many priorities.

Bob Turner: The failure to exercise together. Without some larger exercises (tapletops) no one agency will recognize what anyone else can bring to the table in support of response, and/or resources.

Marilyn Wright: Turf battles, too many leaders and not enough followers.

Question 2. What are the obstacles to greater collaboration in emergency management?

David Sulek: First and foremost, Federalism. The Founders created a system of government that created inherent tensions between entities. Federal, State, and local layers of government. Executive, legislative, and judicial branches. A bicameral Congress. Division of Church and state. Historical antipathy between government and private industry. The role of the military in civil society.

The system was designed to prevent the consolidation of power in any one entity or organization that could then assume national control over the government -- and it's worked pretty well!

But this system also creates competition among agencies for power and authority which, during a disaster, greatly complicates response efforts.

Audience Responses:
Kathy Jacobson: I totally agree with this approach but also know that there is resistance to change in our local bureaucracies. We are working from the grassroots level of citizen involvement but are having difficulty helping our agency partners grasp this concept. What advice do you have for citizen groups who find that local leaders are not open to these new concepts, which include transparency and public involvement?

Speaker Comment:
David Sulek: There is no doubt that convincing leaders at all levels can prove problematic. When we have found good examples of megacommunities it has involved the emergence of leaders -- champions -- from across the three sectors (public, private, civil who are willing to surrender some control over their missions and collaborate horizontally. I think your question is an excellent one. This works wonderfully on a voluntary basis. But how do you institutionalize this -- in terms of budgets, rewards systems, recognition, etc.?

Mark Baker: Also, I am not sure than anyone uses a "top down approach". Even in the military, there is collaboration between military, politicians, allies, etc. There is not now at least a pure top down approach. The issue then becomes when do you collaborate and with whom?

Scott S. Thresher: It has to start local and be successful before further collaboration with multi-partners. "Starts local, ends local".

Speaker Comment:
David Sulek: This is a really important point, Scott. Network theory, which underpins a lot of our megacommunity thinking, holds that it is best to manage events locally until they escalate and require greater collaboration.

Steve Harrison: A collaborative environment must exist where organizations including emergency management, fire, law enforcement, EMS, defense, social services, education, warehousing, non-profits, faith-based, and volunteer organizations all participate to varying degrees. As important are private sector organizations such as hospitals, community health providers, pharmacies, transportation couriers, manufacturers and others too great in number to enumerate here. We must appreciation of one another’s roles and the reasoning for preparation, response and recovery implementation policies and strategies in order to succeed - including combined training and exercises.

Speaker Comment:
Stephen Krill: I agree. A great example of Mr. Harrison's point is with the Metropolitan Medical Response System (or MMRS). As Amy knows, as I am sure many of you online today, MMRS brings together all facets of emergency management, law enforcement, public safety, and health and medical, unifying jurisdictions with respect to planning, training/exercises, and operations

Peter Jespersen: When the public, voluntary or civil sector does not have an OK from management or doesn't understand and acknowledge the needs of the collaborating partners or doesn't view collaboration as beneficial, you have some significant obstacles to overcome.

Cali Ellis: The problem is that the feds are trying to exert increasing control over state Homeland Security functions through funding streams. The feds themselves are facilitating the breakdown in cooperation and communication at the state and local levels when they get involved in this way. Yet, their role is crucial.

Ric Skinner: An obstacle in my area would be the "not another meeting to go to" mentality. Many communities don't have the personnel and resources to take care of the matters at hand let alone consider something new like megacommunities. Don't get me wrong -- I think it's a very good concept. But how to implement is another issue.

Steve Harrison: There exist differing and sometimes competing local, state and federal planning assumptions that can be understood if not resolved using this megacommunity concept. This awareness is evolving.

Skip, Sherwood Oregon: How do you gain the assistance of local media in writing about collaborative efforts to build a mega-community? This isn't the kind of topic that is high on their agenda.

Speaker Comment:
Stephen Krill: Skip, another good question. The media plays an important role and can serve as a major advocate or a major inhibitor to something like this concept. At the local level, and I am now speaking about the Greater Washington, DC area local media seem to very interested in highlighting stories about collaboration regardless of the topic. In emergency management, when fundamentally we are trying to save lives, protect property, and provide basic human needs this kind of story can make headlines but at the national level, it seems these kind of stories lose their priority and get outshined but other topics.

Speaker Comment:
David Sulek: I also think we see many instances where the local media itself becomes a key part of the megacommunity structure; take for example the critical roles played by local weather channels when it comes to pending disasters.

Question 3. What are the challenges to sustaining collaborative efforts?

David Sulek: There are five core challenges to sustaining collaborative efforts. The first is decision rights. Collaboration is not one entity barking out orders to other organizations. These entities must share risk, rewards, and responsibilities for collaboration to work.

The second is trust. When trust is present, collaboration will flourish and resources will be shared. In its absence, the actors will start to withdraw and not collaborate.

The third is that collaboration necessarily involves the sharing of information across traditional boundaries and jurisdictions. While not all information needs to be shared, that information shared must be transparent and have high fidelity.

The fourth is visible and committed leadership. Our article argues that Governor Bush was able to build a megacommunity only by surrendering some of his perceived and real authority -- he was willing to sacrifice some of his authority to create a true partnership.

The fifth is the rewards system. Today, our budgetary and human capital systems often dis-incentive transparent, collaborative practices, instead continuing rewards systems that favor closed competitive behaviors.

Audience Responses:
Peter Jespersen: Sustainability depends on commitment from those involved and a willingness to look for creative approaches that address the needs of all involved. Every participant needs to be able to point to objectives and accomplishments that have value for their own constituents. It is also important to have multiple participants who will not hesitate to reach out to the others to keep an initiative on track.

Colette Whelan: I see our preparedness partners; fire, EMS, law enforcement, medical folks, etc. as wanting to come to the table but not having the funding to do so. I am a preparedness coordinator for a local health department and we get money to do this work; our partners however do not, and it is a big deterrent in getting the collaboration we need and want.

Rick Tobin: Another issue, which is tied to Skip's question, is the "size" of accomplishments that new forming community collaboraters want to accept. I have often said that giant products take too long to build confidence. There should be a series of small successes before massive undertakings are even discussed. It's one of the poisons that I've seen kill local collaboration in various parts of the country.

Speaker Comment:
David Sulek: Peter, to your point and Rick's, the megacommunity approach has at its core the notion of "overlapping vital interests." Not everyone will have the same opinion or interest but they may have a vital interest -- public safety as an example that can help unite their efforts. But we are not naïve - the budgetary hurdles are enormous. What is frustrating I think to all in the community is the inability to effectively pool resources -- all the government dollars, private sector monies, and donations.

Mark Baker: I would have to agree with Rick Tobin. I am involved with a group, the Greater Toronto Incident Management Exchange. We are trying to do something like ChicagoFirst in Toronto. You have to celebrate your achievements and be happy with baby steps, just as long as you are moving forward. This sort of thing takes time.

Darlene Coffman: We need consciousness-raising efforts to the community at large (National dialogue where everyone turns off their TV or finds nothing on the TV but this topic) and then grants that would support the formation of these megacommunities. I think there is more passion/creativity/political will for this among citizens than in some agencies. Grassroots up instead of top-down.

Scott S. Thresher: We need to see positive highlights in the EM megacommunity instead of "how we are not prepared". There are many newsworthy and groundbreaking stories in various parts of the country and internationally. How do we ensure our EM communities receive the national highlights from a small community to an area such as Los Angeles CA and Washington DC?

Speaker Comment:
David Sulek: We saw some excellent examples of this in the rebuilding of East Biloxi after Katrina. This gets right to your point, Scott, while all the energy and much of the money was focused on New Orleans there were other parts of the Gulf Coast that were hurting too. And in those regions, like Biloxi, it was an interesting mix of public, private, and charitable organizations that made a difference, where the public attention was not, but the need was real.

Question 4. What kinds of frameworks for collaboration are effective?

David Sulek: This is a difficult question to answer. Our article -- and underlying megacommunity concept -- points to five critical elements: tri-sector involvement, overlapping vital interests, alliances, network structure, and sustainability.

This is important, because each megacommunity will form around a unique problem and a "one size fits all" approach may not be either feasible or desirable. Our firm's upcoming book points to many examples -- a revitalization project in Harlem, global efforts to ban landmines, and others -- where megacommunity approaches have worked.

The key, in our view, is understanding the overlapping vital interests of the social network and designing a megacommunity that fits these unique needs and that can evolve consistently with how the actors view their roles.

Audience Responses:
Cali Ellis: Kevin Maloney's is the best one I know.

Kathy Jacobson: I find Holistic Management, a framework for decision making, to be very helpful in clarifying common goals and providing a model for sustainable systems oriented decision making.

Amy Sebring: I find that FEMA is at least starting to talk to its partners through its Advisory Councils, but I don't think everyone needed is at the table yet.

JRB, Fairfax Va: The Fairfax county GIS PA Civic Associations layer, will allow active communities to cooperate more effectively in Mutual Aid Planning.

Steve Harrison: The Cities Readiness Initiative project areas are demonstrating success in this area and pulling together a host of partners and stakeholders.

Jane Kushma: Chrislip and Larson's Collaborative Leadership model is also a good framework for action.

Brit Weber: Using the megacommunity concept, there are many different organizations and communities across the U.S. who are building their version. However, this grassroots initiative is being pushed within regions and communities. For example, our program does this but we also collaborate and profile other examples as well. To date, we have created 34 examples of megacommunities through federal tax dollars (via grants by DHS). Our website is http://www.cip.msu.edu.

Speaker Question:
David Sulek: Do people think EMACs are a good example?

Cali Ellis: Yes. The EMAC from my former area (Michigan) was very useful.

Steve Harrison: EMAC is very useful, must expand to accommodate private sector volunteerism to be more effective.

Kevin Maloney: Someone mentioned "not another meeting". In Buffalo, we have used a virtual fusion center concept, with an encrypted web portal, so people can access it from wherever the webs available, desk, home, laptop, cell. We provide a place for secure communications and collaboration.

Scott S. Thresher: I have used in the Gulf Coast community with local hospitals, MEMA, EMA directors, and other private/public partners to achieve mandated requirements common to all parties through annual tabletops or full scale exercises.

Kathy Jacobson: David, please briefly explain EMACs. I also find that community dialogue models/frameworks like Everyday Democracy are helpful for bringing diverse people to the table to address complex challenges.

Speakers’ Comments:
David Sulek: I will defer to Stephen.

Stephen Krill: EMAC, the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, is a Congressionally ratified organization that provides form and structure to interstate mutual aid. With all disasters being local and the federal "Calvary" coming last the State implemented a very effective means to share resources in times of crisis and disaster.

Rick Murray: We here locally found the entire process with EMAC's to be a great experience from working thru the Katrina Incident. We have greater issues working thru IMAC. It's been a pain staking issue trying to get something created/passed that would cover those responders that would need to cross state lines in a non-Presidential type event

Mark Baker: There are several good models for Public Private partnerships. The first in the US is the ChicagoFirst Model with the financial sector teaming up with homeland security. A similar situation exists with the tripartite authority and their exercises in the UK. Another example are some of the Convergence 2006 exercises put on in Australia, the Australian ones are table tops and informational but have everyone on board and are at least a start.

Question 5.
Where collaboration has occurred, has the support of elected officials been important?

David Sulek: As mentioned above, we argue that Florida has established what we consider a working, effective megacommunity around emergency management. And there is little doubt that without the support of the elected officials in the State, this would not have been possible.

But we are quick to point out the political will in Florida was powerful on this issue -- Andrew devastated Florida and hit the taxpayers hard in the pocket book. Moreover, the state is annually pounded by hurricanes, giving elected officials a political impetus for action. Does this exist in every state? Clearly not. Does it exist at the national level? Clearly not.

One thing we discussed at length in the preparation of this article was what we called the "Imperial Impulse." During and after an event, post mortem questions center around "who was in charge?"

Elected officials are understandably conscious of this political dialogue. The immediate response is to establish hierarchical control, making sure all decisions flow to the top and are tightly controlled. But we believe this flies in the face of how the world increasingly operates and creates a 21st century paradox -- the more one tries to control these decisions, the less control they actually have!

Audience Responses:
Brit Weber: I believe that political support is important, but with that support - it does not necessarily mean that elected officials need to be involved in the day-to-day planning processes of a megacommunity.

Speaker Comment:
David Sulek: Brit, agree on your comment about day-to-day involvement of elected officials. But their lack of insight into plans can result in them forcing decisions down on to the community and introducing unintended consequences along the way. The imperial impulse is strong in elected officials because they are elected and can be held accountable (e.g., Governor Blanco)

Cali Ellis: In my experience, it is hard to get state-level officials personally involved in TOPOFF-type exercises. The National Governor's Association tried to do this and the general political pressures on a Governor, for example, make it unlikely to convince their staffs to have him/her participate. This is a problem, in my opinion.

Steve Harrison: Buy-in from local elected officials/CAOs is extremely important in terms of supporting an initiative, but the extent of their involvement does not need to be "in the weeds" so to speak.

Amy Sebring: I think this is also an issue of sustainability across administrations.

Question 6.
What is the impact of separate funding streams (i.e., preparedness grants) on collaboration?

David Sulek: The impact is significant. Without inappropriately commenting into the specifics of the various grants programs -- we should self-disclose that Booz Allen is one of the contractors that supports FEMA around preparedness grants -- let us offer a generality.

By dividing grants state-by-state and city-by-city, this creates a competitive environment. We would advocate the idea of some pilots where grant monies are distributed to regions of the country with a major selection criteria being level of collaboration. There are numerous examples of where the states and localities are already doing this (collaborating), and it makes a great deal of sense. The Pacific Northwest states faced entirely different problems than the Great Lakes, Gulf Coast states, states along the New Madrid fault line, et al.

Audience Responses:
Tim Daniel: Several states are no longer allocating State Homeland Security Grant funds to localities - they have moved to supporting regional organizations and this is good in my opinion.

JRB, Fairfax Va: Competition is good, in that it gets groups to think about efficiency a well as effect.

Bob Turner: Some preparedness grants require collaboration among differing agencies, thus the "Megacommunity" is built into the funding.

Amy Sebring: This is my MMRS example. We all planned together when there was only one funding stream. Once the streams separated, so did the planning.

Kevin Maloney: In my personal opinion, regional AND interdisciplinary cooperation should be a top priority item in handing out grants

Amy Ramirez: The Bay Area SUASI is doing quite a bit of collaborating with our SUASI funding

Brit Weber: Until recently, it was my observation that DHS (FEMA) was pushing down to the states and locals three main concepts; assessing risks within the community, creating regional concepts, and protecting critical infrastructure. However, there seems to be a "wait and see" attitude within some facets of DHS.

Steve Harrison: The competition for grant dollars can certainly impede collaborative efforts in a silo situation. When silos and fences are broken down across discipline and regional lines, we reduce needless redundancy and enhance the overall response capability, e.g., instead of two adjoining communities having command vehicles, share one and dedicate the balance to equipment, training, exercises, etc.

Mark Baker: Providing funding may be a way to build collaboration. Bring money/resources, get a seat at the planning table. I admit this is somewhat mercenary, but it may work, especially when trying to bring in larger organizations.

Question 7. How can current technologies be used to support collaboration?

David Sulek: This is a personal hobby horse. I think we too often focus on technology as a "solution." Collaboration is a distinctly human problem where social networks drive action.

Technology can certainly create venues to make collaboration more effective and efficient. I think something to look at is the Obama for America campaign and how they have used their website to create a grassroots social movement. Regardless of one's political views, this network structure is remarkable and has created a volunteer force unparalleled in American politics. The primary source -- a highly interactive website with multiple avenues for people to "help." It differs considerably from a traditional website because its sole objective is to link people to other people.

Audience Responses:
Ric Skinner: As some of you might expect me to put on table: GIS is not just about maps. It’s an enabling technology that brings databases, people, functions and organizations together in a networked an collaborative process. It should an important tool to build megacommunities. Another technology is "collaboration portals" such as ClearspaceX and others.

JRB, Fairfax Va: Fairfax Co. Va has a good start, and still needs an independent public (overlay) layer which would allow Civic Associations to participate at will (or dedicate a large number of employees to get involved in extensive community recruitment).

Speaker Comment:
David Sulek: I think this has already started to happen in some interesting ways. Florida uses a centralized Web portal to manage donations during its disaster. I will talk a bit later about the Hope Coordination Center in Biloxi, which used some interesting socio-technological approaches to address rebuilding. But, again, at its core, we argue collaboration is about creating the right social network that is both dynamic and adaptable.

Cali Ellis: I agree with David completely. There seems to be a drive to de-personalize many aspects of Homeland Security through technology. But this removes so much built-in knowledge. It needs to be implemented as a complement to experience, not a replacement for it.

Kevin Maloney: I administer an interactive secure portal compartment. DHS owns the system, but lets us administer it locally. It is simple and robust

Speaker Comment:
Stephen Krill: For another example, please visit the Sahana website http://www.sahana.lk/. Sahana is a Free and Open Source Disaster Management system. It is a web based collaboration tool that addresses the common coordination problems during a disaster from finding missing people, managing aid, managing volunteers, tracking camps effectively between Government groups, the civil society (NGOs) and the victims themselves.

Mark Baker: We’re sort of doing this right now. We have experts from several time zones, countries, etc. exchanging ideas. That is the first step of collaboration. A Webinar is just one of the tools. However how would you keep such systems up during a disaster, especially one that takes down communications infrastructure?

Brit Weber: Virtual environment is an important tool, but a megacommunity needs an important foundation, which is starting with face-to-face communication, in order to build that trust, clarity, and commitment.

Scott S. Thresher: I had our IM personnel develop a hurricane icon on our homepage and have shared with our local EM directors for consideration for their counties. Our home page ties into other valuable agencies for support and information for my hospital and clinics in Biloxi MS, Mobile AL, Pensacola, Panama City and Eglin FL.

Steve Harrison: Unfortunately, personnel retention continues to be an issue with decreased funding streams. We may have the equipment and technology, but no one remaining with the training and expertise to maintain and use them in some cases. Further, with personnel loss, the advances made in collaborative efforts may be lost without a good succession plan in place.

Cali Ellis: Michigan uses the off-the-shelf E-Team program, but I am not sure that it facilitates the sort of long-term collaboration you are getting at. I'm sure others here use E-Team as well.

Karla Cunningham: Throughout you're ignoring an important resource - the local population (not just responders etc.). Involving them is also going to be important. Examples of texting by people in various international environments demonstrates the mobilizational - and informational - potential of other technologies and groups.

Questions 8 & 9. We are going to take Questions 8 and 9 together. Are there opportunities for collaboration in the realm of citizen preparedness? Are there opportunities for collaboration in the realm of emergent volunteers and donations?

David Sulek: Our article argues that not only are there opportunities, but these players are absolutely essential. We have just published a follow-on to the "Cavalry" article that focuses on the rebuilding efforts in East Biloxi, MS.

We had the opportunity to meet Kate Stohr of Architecture for Humanity at a conference in Aspen, CO, and were blown away by the Hope Coordination Center that was stood up following Katrina. It demonstrates the real power of megacommunity -- the ability to bring all levels of government, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, charitable organizations, and others together in a collaborative, integrated structure.

Our thesis is this--problems like Katrina or Pandemic Flu are so enormous in scale and complex that no single organization can deal with them. We believe these types of problems require the leveraging of all the resources, capabilities, and talents of all players to deliver effective planning, preparation, and responses.

Question 10. Do we need to change perceptions about the "cavalry?" That is, should we be placing more emphasis on individual and local responsibility?

David Sulek: Yes and no. Our central argument is that real planning, preparedness, and response leverages all the capabilities, resources, and talents of the public, private, and civil sectors of society -- and in an organized, horizontally integrated way.

This may be a bit of a politically incorrect statement, but I worry that we have truly become a paternalistic society. What happened to rugged American individualism? When I read David McCullough's book on the Jamestown Flood, I was struck by how the Federal Government became involved, but it was essentially the character and hard work of the local folk that ultimately rebuilt the town.

BUT, I also think there are times when events become so acute that the only the capabilities of the Federal Government can make a difference. I always think about how the USCG in Katrina and the US Navy in Indonesia provided services that only the US Government is capable of delivering during a crisis.

Audience Responses:
Cali Ellis: Katrina is a counter-example to that, however. The question is that there will always be populations who cannot self-evacuate and they cannot be ignored.

Steve Harrison: There needs to be a shift from the "what is the government going to do to help us" mentality to "how will I be better prepared to protect myself, family, assets and business?"

Karla Cunningham: It might be useful to go further afield for examples to places that do not enjoy high technological density but still manage to quickly and effectively respond to disasters. Local networks through Islamist organizations come to mind in response to earthquakes for MENA. And for Q10 - absolutely! At the very least educational opportunities must be pushed to empower locals until broader efforts can be brought in to assist them.

JRB, Fairfax Va: 80% of all consequence and response is individual. If the response is un-educated or ill -informed, it will be ineffective or disastrous on it's own.

Avagene Moore: I have been terribly impressed with the citizen / neighbor helping neighbor response to the TN tornadoes. Little if anything said about TEMA or FEMA other than a number to call.


Amy Sebring: Ok, Let's wrap it up for today. Sorry we could not get to all the great comments today. Thank you very much Stephen and David for an excellent job and thanks to all our participants today. Would you like to put up your contact info for follow up?

Stephen Krill: Yes, Dave and I would enjoy continuing this dialogue. [email protected] and [email protected]

One more point; the megacommunity case study on Biloxi, MS -- "Convenors of Capability" -- is available in the current issue of strategy+business (http://www.strategy-business.com). It highlights, as Dave briefly mentioned, the accomplishments of the Hope Community Center. [See http://www.strategy-business.com/media/file/sb50_08109.pdf]

Amy Sebring: Please stand by a moment while we make a couple of quick announcements. The formatted transcript will be available later today. If you are not on our mailing list and would like to get notices of future sessions and availability of transcripts, just go to our home page to subscribe.

Before we adjourn, please take a moment now, or after you review the transcript to rate today's session and/or write a review or post your comments. You can access the form either from today's Background Page or from our home page. If you do not have time to write a short review or comment, then please just take a moment to do the rating. It should take less than a minute, and will assist future visitors to our site to find useful information.

We are pleased to announce a new partner today, Fraser Valley Regional District located in British Columbia, Canada; URL: http://www.fvrd.bc.ca; POC: Lynn Orstad, Emergency Program Manager.

"FVRD is a local government entity, responsible for the safety of our residents in the event of an emergency or disaster. We achieve this through our staff and volunteers."

Lynn Orstad: Great to be back on the Forum. The Fraser Valley Regional District (BC, Canada) is promoting EIIP as another avenue for our staff, volunteers and the public to become more involved in Emergency Management and increase their knowledge. Good to also see familiar names again!

Amy Sebring: Becoming an EIIP Partner is a way to show your support, and possibly help us to keep the services we provide available to you. It is easy to do; see the link to Partnership for You from our home page, and complete the simple form provided.

Thanks to everyone for participating today in a lively discussion. For first-timers, we hope you enjoyed the program and will come again. We stand adjourned but before you go, please help me show our appreciation to Stephen and David for a fine job.