The Emergence of Whole Community Planning

FEMA has contracted the development of a national Whole Community disaster training program.  This should result in some of the best planning guidance ever put forward by FEMA since CPG-101.  What is ‘Whole Community’ planning?  Whole Community planning takes into account everything in your community, not just the hazards, but also the vulnerable populations, as well the community’s resources – all of them, to include the private sector.  This is smart planning!

Timothy RieckerI don’t know what the final guidance will look like, but I’m imagining a process, imbedded within our existing planning process, which is similar to a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) which has long been used as a business analysis tools.  Strengths and weaknesses are internal reflections, while opportunities and threats have you looking to the outside.  From the perspective of an emergency planner for a community, strengths and weaknesses would reference their innate government-based capabilities (remember capabilities-based planning?  I’m still a big fan); while opportunities and weaknesses would reference what is brought to the table by the rest of the community (i.e. private sector, NGO, and even the citizens themselves – such as a neighborhood watch or CERT).

In many ways, good planners and emergency managers have already been doing this.  They have been capitalizing on relationships with the private sector and NGOs and building plan annexes based upon these relationships – such as human services oriented plans and logistics plans.  Moving forward as a ‘branded’ concept, Whole Community planning will become the standard, not just a best practice, and will evolve as more people do it and make it better.  This concerted effort will ensure that the entire community is moving forward in a coordinated fashion and with common goals in the response to and recovery from an incident.  I’m also hopeful that this Whole Community guidance will give some input on community preparedness as well.

The project will be released in phases over the next three years, so be looking out for it.

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