Yesterday, 1st February 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. A PHEIC is an ‘extraordinary event’ which constitutes a public health risk to other communities through the international spread of disease and would potentially require an international response to bring it under control. This declaration was made following increasing concern about the spread of the Zika virus disease and its link to cases of babies born with microcephaly and other neurological disorders in Brazil. This declaration has a purpose – it will spur into action an international response. Continue reading
Derek Gregory reflects on Pete Adey and Ben Anderson’s work on governing emergencies.
I’ve been catching up on a stream of publications by Pete Adeyand Ben Anderson on emergencies, including ‘Affect and security: exercising emergency in UK “civil contingencies”‘, Society & Space 29(6) (2011) 1092-1109; ‘Anticipating emergencies: Technologies of preparedness and the matter of security’, Security dialogue 43 (2) (2012) 99-117; and ‘Governing events and life: “Emergency” in UK Civil Contingencies’, Political Geography 31 (1) (2012) 24-33.
This has been prompted by a continuing conversation with Theo Price about a series of political/artistic interventions under the rubric of COBRA RES, in which he’s invited me to take part. COBRA, as many readers will know, is
the British Government’s emergency response committee set up to respond to a national or regional crisis. Standing for Cabinet Office Briefing Room A [below], the COBRA Committee comes together in moments of perceived crisis under the chairmanship of either the Prime Minister or the…
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Whilst looking at uses of training facilities at the Fire Service College UK, which has a mock motorway amongst other things, I came across this ‘dramatic mockumentary’ (as it has been called), by the BBC. Incidentally, part of the film was shot on the mock motorway. ‘The Day Britain Stopped’ details a fictional transport disaster in the UK, which is precipitated by a rail crash followed by a trade union strike resulting in the overloading of other transport modes at an already busy time of year. Its presentation style is that of a documentary, which looks back at the events that unfolded that day, with eye-witness accounts and interviews of emergency responders and control room operators, supplemented by various methods of visualising the event, including interactive maps and video footage. Continue reading
An article from the Spanish newspaper, El Pais, which is interesting because it addresses some of the actions, decisions and uncertainties implicated in the work of responding to an emergency in its comparison of the response to Ebola in the US and Spain:
- Detection and diagnosis, and the uncertainty
- Activation, relating to the point at which an event is named an emergency (or a crisis, or a disaster…), and how special measures or protocol are implemented
- Monitoring work, to track an event, or to identify other cases
- Communication to stakeholders, at what point does this happen, and how the event is communicated.