In April, I wrote about FEMA’s Strategic Foresight Initiative (SFI), a program designed:
to seek to understand how the world around us is changing, and how those changes may affect the future of emergency management and our community.
By “our community” I am including homeland security (recognizing different views persist about the relationship between emergency management and homeland security).
If the Strategic Foresight Initiative produces material of value — notwithstanding its quasi-homophonic SciFi acronym — one hopes it will benefit everyone within the homeland security enterprise.
The three central questions guiding the initiative are:
(1) What are the drivers of change (e.g., demographics, climate change) that may “dial up” or “dial down” systemic risk in the future?
(2) What has the potential to transform emergency management in the future?
(3) What should we do now to better align our missions and capabilities to our future needs?
As I described in April, there are three opportunities to participate in this Strategic Foresight Initiative. The first activity was a meeting to identify “the most important drivers [participants] believe could impact emergency management over the next 20 years.”
The second opportunity — based on the work done at the initial SFI meeting — started a few days ago, and you are invited to participate:
FEMA has launched a broader community engagement effort to attract diverse participants from many disciplines and fields to join in moderated discussion. An easy-to-access, easy-to-use online tool, OMB-Max, will promote dialogue to better understand emerging trends and future directions in key issue areas, as well as the potential implications for emergency management.
If you are interested in participating in this effort, please send an email request to:
FEMA-OPPA-SFI[at]fema.gov ( remember to turn the [at] into the @ sign).
Once you receive your invitation and sign on to the SFI site, you will find detailed information about the Initiative.
I wish this activity well, and I intend to participate in it. But I remain agnostic about the usefulness of spending much quality time looking at the drivers of the future.
Like any good agnostic, however, there’s a place inside me that wants to have faith, that wants to believe there can be a direct relationship between a knowledge of what’s coming toward homeland security and taking right action based on that knowledge.
I continue to look for evidence that the systematic study of the future is anything more than (as George Bernard Shaw wrote about Chess) “a foolish expedient for making idle people believe they are doing something very clever when they are only wasting their time.”
Hope springs eternal, however, even as we move through a northern hemisphere summer into a future that will surely surprise.