Client’s Challenge: Taking Measure of Its Risks, a University Asks for Help

It wasn’t surprising that this particular university had just been awarded an EMHE grant by the U.S. Department of Education to establish an all-hazards emergency management plan. It clearly faced a unique combination of challenges. These included: (1) vulnerability to wind damage and flooding from storms and hurricanes; (2) exposure to the risks posed by hazardous cargo carried by seagoing vessels in the adjacent waterway; (3) proximity to a nuclear power plant and the risk of fallout from an accident or terrorist attack at the facility; and (4) risks of infectious disease outbreak on campus.

Our Solution: Strategic Assessment Includes Site Visit, Interviews, Research and a Review of Documentation

Hillard Heintze undertook a strategic assessment of these risks as well as others – such as the school’s vulnerability to on-campus violence. After conducting a site visit, multiple interviews with both internal and external stakeholders, and a thorough review of key documentation, the Hillard Heintze team developed a quantitative analysis and ranking of the risks, threats and vulnerabilities confronting the university as well as specific guidance on actions the school could take to mitigate these risks and their impacts on students, faculty, staff and visitors.

The team’s findings also addressed other critical issues – from the need to strengthen and enhance basic “block-and-tackle” security and emergency preparedness procedures to establishing behavioral threat assessment practices in order to counter the risks of on-campus violence.

Impact on the Client: Compliance with a Government Grant – and Information Needed to Complete an Emergency Plan

Using these insights and recommendations as a base – and in robust compliance with the requirements of the EMHE grant – the university is proceeding rapidly toward the completion of its all-hazards emergency plan as the nexus of a broader, continuous and best practice-based approach to raising awareness about safety, security and emergency preparedness not just on campus but across the extended university neighborhood and community.

Unplugged: The Project Manager's Post-Engagement Perspective

“That’s right… in many respects, threat and vulnerability assessment is inherently a qualitative process.

But it doesn’t have to be – if you can leverage a well designed quantitative methodology, one that specifically addresses vulnerabilities, consequences and risks – in line with
DHS’s guidance.

We did that on this project. On the one hand, the quantitative risk ratings and prioritized ranking we generated transformed a subjective process into a transparent one. It forced experts with different disciplines to apply a numerical rating to each vulnerability, consequence and risk – relative to many other specific threats of concern. At the same time, the resulting risk ranking will make it easier to apply these findings to future investment priorities and schedules.”

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