Basic information on FEMA's Strategic Foresight Initiative (SFI)
The Strategic Foresight Initiative (SFI) is a collaborative effort of the emergency management community facilitated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). SFI was launched so the emergency management community can seek to understand how the world is changing, and how those changes may affect the future of emergency management. Participants in SFI have identified nine drivers that are likely to affect the field of emergency management significantly over the next 15 years. These drivers should be considered as the emergency management community makes long-term plans and decisions.
The way in which individuals interact with society is changing rapidly. This has potentially significant implications for emergency management. These changes will present both real opportunities and serious challenges. Key trends include: Americans are increasingly relating to one another in different ways, particularly through online forums; American society is becoming more mobile; “Amateurs” are increasingly becoming trusted sources of information at the expense of “experts;” Public trust in institutions in the United States is decreasing and shifting to social networks.
A significant amount of existing research indicates that the world’s climate is changing. Emergency managers should consider the implications of climate change regardless of the cause. Several climate change-related trends may present critical challenges to emergency managers and warrant in-depth analysis. These include: Rising temperatures; Increased storm intensity and frequency; Rising sea levels; Changing drought and fire risk; Shifting threats to human health and disease patterns
The state and nature of infrastructure is likely to change over the next several decades. These changes could have significant implications for emergency managers. There are several trends in the field of infrastructure that will affect these implications.
The U.S. population will continue to grow in both numbers and diversity. The key demographic trends and drivers with the potential to affect emergency management activities are: Overall U.S. population growth; Increase in the elderly population; Increase in racial and ethnic diversity; Increase in urban sprawl and growth of “megaregions”; Increase in coastal population density; Shifts in U.S. demographic structure.
In recent decades, globalization has raised socioeconomic conditions in many nations while creating new global interdependencies that will influence emergency management in the U.S. and worldwide. These growing political, economic, technological, and social interdependencies are evident in the following changes: Rapid global economic growth; Industrial development of non-OECD nations; Interlinked global supply chains; Increased worldwide awareness; Increased media reach and individual power.
Government budgets are currently experiencing significant constraints. Although there is a significant amount of uncertainty associated with long-term budgetary projections, a number of key trends and drivers will contribute to government budgets constraints for the foreseeable future. The national and global economy, projected deficits at all levels of government, increasing health care costs, and the costs of retirement benefits will likely impact emergency management directly and indirectly at all levels of government for years to come. This paper attempts to explore some of these key trends and their potential implications on the future emergency management environment.
Rapid technological growth is expected to continue in the coming decades. The following technological trends and drivers have the potential to impact emergency management dramatically. They are: Increase in use and capability of mobile devices; Development of the “internet of things;” Increase in use of telemedicine and electronic health records; Advances in biotechnology.
There are several ways that terrorist tactics are likely to evolve in the coming decades:Terrorists may favor attack methods that exploit perceived vulnerabilities, such as adopting active shooter tactics and finding new methods of concealing dangerous materials; Terrorists will continue to pursue opportunities to inflict mass casualties; The nature of the threat from international Islamic terrorist groups is likely to change, particularly considering the Arab Spring and death of Osama bin Laden; Homegrown violent extremism will likely continue to emerge as a significant threat.
This document builds on the foundation of last year's capstone Strategic Foresight Initiative (SFI) report. In the Crisis Response and Disaster Resilience 2030 report, SFI established a framework for foresight: deepening our understanding of the forces driving change in emergency management and delivering insights into the capabilities, tools, and partnerships needed for success in the future.
With Towards More Resilient Futures, we take another step forward as we seek to apply our collective foresight toward more resilient futures. This step moves beyond the analytical world of process and "theory" toward the real world of practice. And this focus on practical applications is the cornerstone of this document.