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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Risk Assessment Planning



The purpose of a risk assessment plan is that of identifying, assessing risks, developing and evaluating potential strategies to mitigate those risks, and finally implementing procedures to protect from the harm that potential threats pose to a population.  By utilizing historic disasters, current science and research, as well as past occurrences of natural and human-caused hazards, the state of New Jersey has defined a strategy to provide direction and guidance when researching vulnerabilities and implementing any current and/or future mitigation projects (NJ Office of Emergency Management, 2006).
The New Jersey terrorism risk assessment portion of the 2014 Hazard Mitigation Plan did an excellent job in addressing a full gamut of possible threats.  While this plan did seem to focus more on explaining the possible threats and the risks that they pose to the state of New Jersey, it did not seem to have many actual mitigation strategies in place to deal with the threats.  The plan could have covered this area more fully (State of New Jersey 2014 Hazard Mitigation Plan, 2014). 
Vulnerability assessments were lacking in breadth and depth; the report simply stated that the entire population was at risk and that the areas with the greatest danger of exposure were those which housed the most people in one area at the same time.  Vulnerabilities which could cause the greatest impact on the area's infrastructure and the well-being of the populace as well as the consequence of an attack on these areas were identified.   However, once again, there are no strategies with which to address these vulnerabilities established (State of New Jersey 2014 Hazard Mitigation Plan, 2014).

Using historical records, the state of New Jersey identified 30 terrorism events within the state and surrounding areas between May 13, 1905 and May 1, 2010.  However, FEMA only identified a single event - 09/11/2001 within the timeframe of 1954 - 2012.  This discrepancy may skew probability calculations and could create a false sense of security among the citizens and government agencies residing in New Jersey (State of New Jersey 2014 Hazard Mitigation Plan, 2014).
With the state bordering on the Atlantic Ocean, one risk that has been overlooked, comes from the sea.  This is one area which is lacking in this report.  Further research regarding this potential threat is recommended.  The New Jersey Hazard Mitigation plan also does not talk fully about strategies with which risks can be implemented or monitored (State of New Jersey 2014 Hazard Mitigation Plan, 2014).
The Department of Homeland Security established a series of publications with which to offer information and analysis throughout the Department towards the implementation of homeland security risk management and strengthen the Department's abilities to address homeland security risks and implement risk management methods and practices.  Risk Management Fundamentals is the first publication in a series which will do this.  The intentions of this issuance are to promote common understanding and approach to risk management; establish common training and application of risk management and support a common foundation and risk management philosophy and cultures within the Department of Homeland Security.  Ultimately, the concepts within Risk Management Fundamentals will be a useful guide for all Federal, state and local agencies (Homeland Security, April 2011).
The National Terrorism Advisory System has been put into place to provide information about potential threats to the public. By utilizing different threat levels, it can provide specific information to assist individuals and communities in protecting themselves.  Alerts can be posted online or sent out to the news media to reach the most people possible (State of New Jersey 2014 Hazard Mitigation Plan, 2014).
The State of New Jersey, in 2011, received National Emergency Management Accreditation for its standards for disaster preparedness and response systems.  The Emergency Accreditation Program is an accreditation process which coordinates disaster preparedness and response activities for both natural and man-made disasters.  This program recognizes the abilities of emergency management programs in the areas of planning, training, exercises, and evaluations as well as communications and warnings (NJ Office of Emergency Management, 2011).
The consequence assessment of this report was extremely thorough and well laid out.  Each threat is highlighted and its effects on the population and critical infrastructure has been presented.  The assessment is simple enough for anyone to read, follow and assimilate, should the need ever arise (State of New Jersey 2014 Hazard Mitigation Plan, 2014).
After analyzing and assessing the New Jersey Hazard Mitigation Plan of 2014, one can come to the conclusion that the State of New Jersey is indeed prepared for almost any disaster.  While any disaster can have unpredictable results, most - if not all - potential hazards have been accounted and planned for (State of New Jersey 2014 Hazard Mitigation Plan, 2014).
References

Homeland Security. (April 2011). Risk Management Fundamentals. Homeland Security Risk Management Doctrine. Retrieved from http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/rma-risk-management-fundamentals.pdf
NJ Office of Emergency Management. (2006). NJOEM Programs. State of New Jersey 2014 State Hazard Mitigation Plan. Retrieved from http://ready.nj.gov/programs/mitigation_plan2014.html
NJ Office of Emergency Management. (2011). New Jersey Achieves National Emergency Management Accreditation. Retrieved from http://www.state.nj.us/njoem/media/pr121511.html
State of New Jersey 2014 Hazard Mitigation Plan. (2014). Section 5: Risk Assessment. 5.23 Terrorism. Retrieved from http://ready.nj.gov/programs/pdf/mitigation2014b/mit2014_section5-23.pdf