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Human Factors in 

Security, Business Continuity & Emergency Management

As a governmental entity, the U.S. Department of Homeland security is large and complex, with more than 240,000 employees working across 22 different incorporated agencies. The field of homeland security is also broad and multifaceted, focusing on a range of topics, including terrorism prevention, cybersecurity, human trafficking, disasters, and resilience. Just as all of the critical infrastructures vital to the United States are dependent on one specific sector--electricity, all homeland security agencies, and areas have one commonality-- people.

In both the public and private sectors, humans play a role in all aspects of security, including the functions of deterrence, detection, response, and recovery, for both administrators and recipients of security and emergency management procedures. For example, work in the behavioral sciences has direct implications for helping to prevent violence and terrorism, in the community, on campus, and in work settings, as well as for dealing with the effects of such incidents when they occur. Understanding the human response to complex emergencies, like CBRN situations, or cyber threats, is critical to managing all phases of the emergency management lifecycle.   

Behavioral Science Applications LLC (BSA) applies the methods and doctrines of the behavioral sciences to the problems of homeland and private security, business continuity, and emergency management. The ability to form accurate behavioral assumptions can give an organization's leaders a critical tactical and strategic advantage in managing a variety of operational risks.  An understanding of crisis-related behavior can inform actions that organizations can take in order to achieve the desired outcome. In other cases, an understanding of human behavior can simply lead to a more complete explanation for why people react in certain ways in disasters, emergencies, and violent incidents. Failure to adequately address human behavior in crisis response can lead to plans and procedures that are inappropriate, ineffective, and potentially dangerous.

BSA's multi-disciplinary team helps our clients with analyses and insights into human behavior to facilitate effective crisis-related plans, policies, procedures, and exercises. By applying a multidisciplinary social science approach to understanding the diversity and complexity of human behavior, BSA can help optimize your organization's preparedness, response, and recovery capabilities.

 

The Homeland Security Human Factors Institute

 

The Homeland Security Human Factors Institute is dedicated to assisting professionals in security, emergency management, business continuity, and related disciplines in forming accurate behavioral assumptions about how people will most likely behave in a wide range of threat scenarios. This information can then be applied to the development of policies, plans, procedures, and exercises to ensure safe, effective, and defensible strategies and tactics in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from all manner of disasters, emergencies, and acts of violence.

The Institute offers four online professional development opportunities each year; an eight-session program during the summer and winter, and a four-session program during the spring and fall. Participants can earn certificates in Homeland Security Human Factors by participating in the full programs or taking individual classes live or on-demand. These dynamic programs provide a foundation of knowledge in disaster- and emergency-related behaviors, as well as addressing emerging trends and threats.  

Registration for the Winter 2023 Homeland Security Human Factors Institute opens on December 5. 

Dates and class topics will be announced at that time. 

The Center for Climate Change & Human Behavior 

Climate change must be on the mind of every security, emergency management, and business continuity professional. As the temperature rises, so does the risk of a range of adverse behaviors, including aggression and violence. For professionals in any discipline related to safety and security, this will be a growing concern as the planet continues to warm.

 

Studies have demonstrated a linear relationship that directly ties escalating temperatures to escalating violence with assault rates peaking at the highest temperatures. Other studies have shown that in hot weather people are more likely to misread neutral signals as signs of hostility and less likely to avoid or condemn violence. When people are overheated, they simply have trouble thinking straight; there is notable cognitive disruption and distortion that can lead to poor problem-solving and overreactions to perceived threats.

 

In addition to the trauma caused by the increasing frequency and intensity of climate-fueled disasters, rising global temperatures play a part in social tensions boiling over in the community and the workplace. “Climate anxiety” or “eco-anxiety” is defined as a “heightened emotional, mental or somatic distress in response to dangerous changes in climate change causing distress, anger, and other negative emotions in people worldwide.” Increasing temperatures also can affect collective violence in the form of civil unrest and terrorism. Research has found that changes in temperature and precipitation can increase the likelihood and intensity of conflict and violence. According to START, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and the Response to Terrorism, climate change acts as a “threat multiplier” of terrorism risk.

The changing climate will affect every part of personal and professional life. It has direct, demonstrable impacts on human behavior that must be understood and factored into policies, plans, procedures, and even exercises. Leaders and decision-makers can not afford to get behind the curve in preparing for this reality. The Center for Climate Change & Human Behavior™ offers a range of consulting and training services to help organizations of all types and sizes anticipate and prepare for the inevitable challenges that climate change will bring. Now is the time to adopt a climate-informed approach to managing the risks ahead.

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