February 2013

Multihazard Mitigation Council (MMC) Symposium Recap
by Neil Blais, MMC Chair

As many of you know, the Multihazard Mitigation Council (MMC) hosted its first annual Symposium on January 8th at Building Innovation 2013 — The National Institute of Building Sciences Annual Conference and Expo, in Washington, D.C. Entitled Large-Scale Mitigation Planning and Strategies, the MMC Symposium was designed to allow participants to take a high-level look at the state-of-the-art for emergency management, planning and mitigation, and see what we are doing right and what might be improved. I wanted to provide you with an overview of how the Symposium went. The Symposium was very well attended, with nearly 75 attendees representing a broad spectrum of researchers, scientists, engineers, code officials, emergency managers, and many other stakeholders.

The plenary and session speakers did a fantastic job of laying the groundwork for the breakout session discussions. While we knew that the speakers were extraordinarily knowledgeable, they also proved to be thought-provoking and engaging. Many of the participants commented that they wished we had provided a little more time for the speakers to present their topics. Our thanks to our plenary speakers: Dr. Susan Cutter, Mr. Larry Larson, Dr. Mohammed Ettouney, Dr. Charles Scawthorn and Dr. Adam Rose, and our session speakers: Dr. Gavin Smith, Mr. Michael Armstrong, Mr. Andrew Herman, Dr. Kit Miyamoto and Dr. Howard Kunreuther, for their contribution to the success of the Symposium.

When the participants went into the breakout sessions, they quickly identified a number of issues that were worthy of discussion and several great public policy ideas were presented to the Listening Panel. Covering the topics of “Social Considerations and Continuity,” “Governance and Preparedness,” “The Built Environment and the Development Climate,” “Hazard and Risk Assessment” and the “Economics and Politics of Disasters,” the sessions provided ample opportunity to discuss how things are being done today. Ten papers, authored before the conference by Linda Borque, Rachael Davidson, Chris Eamon, Phil Ganderton, Howard Kunrether, Alan Lulloff, Kevin Mickey, Keith Porter, Hollice Stone and Kathleen Tierney, provided background for the sessions.

One of the major themes running though the discussions was that we needed to have a better way of measuring the resilience of our communities and the mitigation efforts being done throughout the country. Our Listening Panel, comprised of policymakers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Emergency Managers Association (NEMA), the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM), the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the insurance industry, listened intently to the policy recommendations and offered their insights on the practical considerations of implementing what was suggested.

All of this information has been recorded and, over the course of this year, the MMC will digest and distribute the identified findings and recommendations to our stakeholders through the Institute’s journal and other communication vehicles. Speaker presentations and the 10 papers have been uploaded to the Institute conference website. If you would like to participate in the process of reviewing and documenting the results of the Symposium, please do not hesitate to contact Phil Schneider.

We are also looking for individuals who would like to participate in the planning of our 2014 Symposium. The Planning Committee will consider revisiting and celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the MMC’s 2004-2005 report, Mitigation Saves, which reviewed the benefits of hazard mitigation. The 2014 Symposium will offer an opportunity to further discuss mitigation in the context of Advancing Life-Cycle Performance, the theme of Building Innovation 2014, which will be held January 6-10, 2014 at the Marriott Washington at Wardman Park.

Learn more about the MMC. Sign up for Building Innovation 2014 updates.

The National Institute of Building Sciences, authorized by public law 93-383 in 1974, is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that brings together representatives of government, the professions, industry, labor and consumer interests to identify and resolve building process and facility performance problems. The Institute serves as an authoritative source of advice for both the private and public sectors with respect to the use of building science and technology.

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