Take a look at the Centre for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) report on its Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI), released September 2011, and it immediately becomes clear that this ranking isn’t all that Forbes makes it out to be. Before we make Albuquerque the preparedness punching bag, let’s take a look at the scope and intention of the CDC’s rankings.
-- The scores are based on the plans put in place by state and local authorities to “effectively respond to a large scale bioterrorist event by dispensing antibiotics to their entire identified population within 48 hours of the decision to do so.” This is a very specific, public-health oriented scope that doesn’t assess the community’s preparedness as a whole.
-- Relating to the first point, the CDC’s initiative does not, to my knowledge, look at the public-private partnerships that a community has in place. Such partnerships are a key indicator of a community’s preparedness/resilience.
-- There is no mention of critical infrastructure. This is understandable given the scope of the rankings, but it helps make the point that this is not a comprehensive study of preparedness.
-- The author of the Forbes article averages the scores from the past three years. I think this is a bad approach when discussing preparedness: In most cases it doesn’t really matter how prepared a community was three years ago — it’s how prepared they are today that is important.
-- The City of Albuquerque’s score drops drastically from 89 in 08/09 to 37 in 09/10. The score for the larger Albuquerque metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in 07/08 was a dismal 26, but the technical assistance review (TAR) that year did not include the City of Albuquerque itself. These wild fluctuations and exemptions make me question the accuracy of the findings.
-- I’m not disputing New York City’s place at the top of the rankings, but the score of 99.7 used by Forbes excludes a number of counties in the MSA. The actual New York City MSA score came to 93, which would barely keep it in the top ten of 09/10 results.
-- Many of the MSAs that scored 90 or above in 08/09 were exempt from the 09/10 TAR due to the demands of the H1N1 response. As a result, the 08/09 score was assigned to the 09/10 TAR.
I hope this does not come across as an attack on the CDC. My intentions are to give some context to the CDC’s rankings and correct any misconceptions that could arise after reading the Forbes article.
What do you think are the least and most disaster-ready cities? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.