By Scott Brody
Rowan University in New Jersey
Abstract. Standards play a central role in emergency management by providing thoroughly tested and increasingly globally applicable solutions to a host of challenges in both the crisis prevention and response domains. Recognizing that safety is universal, standards development organizations (SDOs) create deliverables for many audiences. Some documents, such as life safety codes, are meant to be followed by manufacturers, service providers, and other businesses and groups that serve the public. Other times, standards-based tools are geared towards expert analysts. Nearly all first responders rely upon standards to help control incidents ranging from everyday service calls to catastrophes. Procedures covered by standards include but are not limited to response, investigation, training, equipment, and information technology. To prevent repeats of past system failures, SDOs play a key role in public policy formation. They strive to advance effective policies that often rely upon the implementation of voluntary consensus standards incorporated by reference into rulemaking. This can be seen with the post-9/11 efforts to standardize ID and passport security. Though content is unique, the role of standards in crisis prevention and response is not fundamentally different from other fields. SDOs rely on the expertise of diverse stakeholders from industry, government, and consumer groups who come to consensus on best practices. This expert-based, time-tested nature makes the methods outlined in standards the simple and lower-risk choice for countless emergency-related decisions.
Category: Academics, Public Policy
Colleagues: Mike Anthony, Christine Fischer, Paul Green