This page includes research, reports, strategies, and tools for FEMA employees and communities working to plan for future disasters.
The world is changing in ways that may significantly impact the emergency management community. Thinking more broadly and over a longer timeframe helps FEMA and its partners understand trends that may influence our mission space. This type of analysis, known as "strategic foresight," enables us to better understand and anticipate risks and take advantage of opportunities in FEMA strategy, resource planning, and doctrine.
Recognizing emergency management as a whole community effort, FEMA's Office of Policy and Program Analysis engages many partners to explore the future of our common mission. Under the Strategic Foresight Initiative (SFI) launched in 2010, FEMA worked with emergency management professionals across the nation, to share resources, learn from, and highlight innovative efforts from the community to anticipate and address future challenges and opportunities. You can read about our latest activities in the report “Highlights from the Strategic Foresight Initiative: 2013-2014”
Foresight Research and Reports
The following FEMA products explore long-term trends and the implications for emergency management into the future. These analyses enable FEMA and its partners to strategize today for future risks and opportunities.
- Research Papers: SFI Driver Papers (2011-2014)
Analysis of key trends with the potential to impact emergency management in the future: US Demographic Shifts, Universal Access to and Use of Information, Critical Infrastructure, Government Budgets, Technological Development and Dependency, Changing Role of the Individual, Climate Change, Evolving Terrorist Threat, Global Interdependencies, Risk Management and Insurance, Community Capacity and Emergency Management
- Learning Aid: "Summary of Findings" (May 2011)
A high-level overview of SFI research findings on trends impacting the future of emergency management
- Report: "Crisis Response and Disaster Resilience 2030: Forging Strategic Action in an Age of Uncertainty" (January 2012)
A report highlighting insights from SFI research and engagement, including nine drivers of change and fifteen strategic needs FEMA and its emergency management partners should pursue to address future risks and opportunities
- Learning Aid: “SFI Summary Information Packet” (February 2012)
A concise summary of SFI drivers and strategic needs identified in the "Crisis Response and Disaster Resilience 2030" report
Following the release of the "Crisis Response and Disaster Resilience 2030" report in 2012, OPPA engaged emergency management practitioners in all levels of government, the private sector, and local communities, to share insights and learn from innovative strategic planning efforts underway.
- Report: "Toward More Resilient Futures: Putting Foresight Into Practice" (May 2013)
A report highlighting innovative whole community efforts that address long-term strategic needs facing FEMA and its partners
Disclaimer: The purpose of these papers is to generate discussion about how to shape an emergency management community that is prepared for whatever challenges the future holds and how to cultivate a common sense of direction and urgency to drive action toward meeting our shared future needs – starting today. The contents of these papers do not necessarily represent the official policies of the Department of Homeland Security or FEMA.
FEMA seeks to create space for collaboration and dialogue around the future of disaster management both within FEMA, and the broader emergency management community. The following products and tools are available for communities to help spur that dialogue.
- Video: “Thinking Seriously about the Future to Enhance Disaster Resilience” (July 2014)
This short video is meant to spark longer-term thinking about issues that are driving change in disaster management.
- Learning Aid: “Learning Aid for SFI Video” (March 2015)
This learning aid accompanies the SFI video “Thinking Seriously About the Future to Enhance Disaster Resilience” to help stimulate discussion around future emergency management challenges.
- Learning Aid: “Strategic Foresight Initiative Case Studies” (March 2015)
Interviews with two members of our foresight community about how they have applied strategic foresight insights and methods in their work in North Dakota and Baltimore
- Foresight Activity: “Assessing the Future Operating Environment” (March 2015)
This guide assists organizations in planning and implementing a one to two hour strategic foresight discussion, drawing on the essence of scenario planning techniques without the need to utilize specialized concepts or develop new materials.
- Foresight Activity: “Foresight Workshop How-to Guide” (March 2015)
This guide assists organizations in preparing for and conducting a two-hour foresight workshop utilizing scenario planning techniques. This type of a workshop can involve a small team or a larger group of decision makers or stakeholders depending on the organization’s interest in foresight and strategic planning.
Disclaimer: The purpose of these materials is to generate discussion about how to shape an emergency management community that is prepared for whatever challenges the future holds and how to cultivate a common sense of direction and urgency to drive action toward meeting our shared future needs – starting today. The contents of these materials do not necessarily represent the official policies of the Department of Homeland Security or FEMA.
- Progress Report: “Highlights from the Strategic Foresight Initiative: 2013-2014” (March 2015)
This Highlights document shares key SFI accomplishments in 2013 and 2014 and provides an overview of future FEMA strategic foresight efforts
- Webinar: "Putting Foresight Into Practice" (June 2013)
Audio from a panel discussion between several whole community innovators whose projects are highlighted in the “Toward More Resilient Futures” report
To join FEMA’s foresight community, or to send us your questions or comments, please email FEMA-OPPA-SFI@fema.gov.