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by Christopher Neuwirth: Reducing Uncertainty from Inevitability

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Recognizing Resilience
February 03, 2011
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Is resiliency something we strive to achieve or is it inherent to certain societies?  Does emergency preparedness always increase resiliency?  How do we measure resiliency before we hope to experience it?

Resiliency is the ability of a society, or the parts thereof, to absorb the impact of a disaster and readily return to a pre-disaster state.  This includes the physical, economical, and organizational aspects within a society -- certainly a concept that becomes more challenging and less comprehensible as societies become increasingly more interconnected and technologically dependent.  Sustainability promotes resiliency but sustainability becomes a near impossibility when societies solely depend on external resources to exist.

Resiliency is, itself, a measure of emergency preparedness.  A resilient society is a prepared society -- but it is unlikely that resiliency alone is completely inherent or somehow unknowingly acquired without any pre-disaster thought or action.  It is a ready-state that demonstrates exemplary preparedness and not a coincidental experience.  If this is true, then there must be signs -- measurable attributes that can be seen prior to a disaster to gauge the level of resiliency.  If we could somehow capture this, would there be a direct correlation to the quality of emergency preparedness?  If emergency preparedness is not done well, or in isolation of other considerations and factors, resiliency may become minimized, limited, or -- worse yet -- not experienced at all.  Recognizing resiliency is an illimitable challenge that will certainly become increasingly more difficult to understand, influence, and measure.  Thus, we must continuously strive to recognize resiliency -- who, where, when, and why it exists -- through research, collaboration, and partnerships across  all disciplines and sectors.      



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