Our capacity to respond to a disaster depends on the ability of numerous response systems to work together–hospitals, public health agencies, clinics, law enforcement, and emergency services, among others. NCDP research focuses on readiness across these many systems, to help us overcome barriers to preparedness and response—and to help us see the “big” picture.

Disasters are complex events. The ability of systems to respond effectively in the immediate and long-term aftermath of a catastrophic disaster is the product of many factors: organizational policies and practices, encompassing both the public and private sectors; sufficient information, gained through situational awareness, robust early warning systems, and comprehensive communication strategies; significant preparedness and training; appropriate resources; and the capacity to innovate at a moment’s notice.

Recent research conducted by NCDP has examined unanticipated consequences of pandemic flu in New York City; developed a case study of four high-risk US cities and their capacity to prepare for long-term recovery; explored and tested mechanisms for developing and sustaining multi-lateral risk communication enterprises that can reach vulnerable populations; and designed and tested the utility of “Community Tabletop” exercises that extend emergency preparedness to such community institutions as schools, as well as their key stakeholders – parents, local officials, and local media.