Emerging Issues in Emergency Management

hands holding a book titled emergency response plan
Category: Industry Insights

By Matt Rowley
Posted on

Emergency management professionals serve their communities through their critical work, and the events of 2020 certainly haven’t made their jobs any easier. The world is changing, and emergency managers can make a difference by anticipating the kinds of challenges their organizations may face in the future.

In this article, we explore three emerging issues in emergency management locally and around the world.

1. Impact of Climate Change

As of October 7, 2020, the National Centers for Environmental Information reported that the U.S. had sustained 16 weather and climate disasters during the year – including droughts, severe storms, tropical cyclones and wildfires – resulting in damages and costs exceeding $1 billion. The total cost of 279 weather and climate events tracked since 1980 exceeded $1.825 trillion.

The increase in natural disasters due to climate change makes it even more important for emergency managers – and the government agencies and organizations they serve – to be prepared.

2. Pandemic Response

The world is in a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus has had adverse socio-economic impacts and cost many lives, and emergency management professionals have contributed to the pandemic response in numerous ways. Some of those ways include:

  • Collecting data about the pandemic.
  • Distributing food to communities in crisis.
  • Educating people on how to avoid infection.
  • Issuing masks and other personal protective equipment.
  • Preparing quarantine facilities.

Industry leaders can use the lessons learned during 2020 to prepare for future public health concerns, whether they’re limited in scale or global like the coronavirus pandemic.

3. Cybersecurity Threats for Government Agencies

Private businesses are a frequent target for cybercriminals, but internet crime against government agencies is also a significant concern. There have been frequent cyberattacks on governments aimed to steal sensitive information or meddle with national affairs.

Cyberattacks can lead to physical consequences. In today’s internet-connected world, it’s critical for emergency managers to anticipate the potential impacts of cyberattacks on their organization’s physical infrastructure and develop prevention and backup measures. The Federal Emergency Management Agency clearly considers cybersecurity a priority, as they have invested more than $165 million in grant funding for state and local jurisdictions’ cyber preparedness over the past 10 years.

Related: 6 Big Cybersecurity Trends to Watch in 2020


At Columbia Southern University, students pursuing our Master of Science in emergency services management take courses in emergency management leadership, risk management, interagency management and more. They understand our ever-changing world and study the latest emergency management trends.

For more information about our online degree programs in emergency management and plenty of other fields in safety and emergency services, visit ColumbiaSouthern.edu.

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