Community preparedness for homeland security-related emergencies was investigated through field work conducted in five communities around the United States that demonstrate similar levels of vulnerabilities but have geographic and regional variations: Denver, Louisville, Seattle, Milwaukee, and St. Louis. The research team conducted individual and focus group interviews with officials in a range of organizations in each of these communities. The ultimate goals of this project are: (1) to describe and analyze how homeland security programs are being implemented at the local level in typical U.S. communities and (2) to develop strategic and planning guidance on how program implementation is influenced by such factors as local community characteristics, the characteristics of organizations that participate in readiness programs for extreme events, structural features of preparedness networks, funding expenditures and "enabling" factors, such as community involvement in regional governmental structures.
This project explored two key research questions: (1) How are homeland security programs being implemented at the local level in typical U.S. communities? (2) What strategic and planning guidance can be offered based on data about homeland security programs? Specifically, the research focused on Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) communities designated by the Department of Homeland Security as high risk regions across the United States. Findings indicate that UASI funding and DHS guidance have improved regional coordination and collaboration by some degree. However, as identified by the research, a number of obstacles to cooperation remain, such as dominance of large cities within regions and state involvement in UASI programs.
A number of individual and focus-group interviews were conducted, with representatives of: first-responder agencies; government agencies;, public health, medical, and mental health organizations; school districts; key media outlets; organizations representing the business community; and the voluntary and community-based sector. Social-network analysis was also utilized in this study.