'sterile' and scares away users, says task force

Tools, the Federal Emergency Management Agency website meant to promote citizen preparedness for disasters has a "somewhat sterile/bureaucratic presentation" that fails to grab the attention of users, says a Homeland Security Department task force.

A June 2011 report from a group appointed earlier this year to examine the role of resiliency in homeland security says may even actively discourage the public from relying on it through disclaimers such as "We are not responsible if information that we make available on this site is not accurate, complete or current" and a warning that FEMA has "no obligation to update any information on this site."

The useful information on it could also be better promoted through social media tools, the task force adds.

The report's overall emphasis is to examine DHS's role in promoting resiliency, a term of growing frequency if not exactly clarity. President Barack Obama signed on March 30 a presidential policy directive calling for strengthened U.S. resiliency, defined in the directive as "the ability to adapt to changing conditions and withstand and rapidly recover from disruption due to emergencies."

The report cites the British "stiff upper lip" throughout World War II as an example. Resiliency should not be seen as an after thought of post-disaster recovery, the task force says. Rather, it must be included into preparedness efforts from the start.

The task force also recommends creation of a National Resilience Office at DHS.

For more:
- download the task force report (.pdf)

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