Welcome to The International Katrina Project - IKP

International co-operation and a mass brainstorming exercise

The International Katrina Project (IKP) is the result of a long process dating back to the 1980’s and 90’s, when international emergency managers around the world continued to wonder why all kinds of lessons were learned, had landed in reports but often were not put to use - in practice. Some of them even wondered aloud whether the conclusion might be justified that a structural and permanent design flaw existed in the human race: Humans, by nature, are reactive instead of pro-active. Other emergency managers set out, within a ten-year period and within an experimental ‘International Emergency Management’ program at the University of Kuopio in Finland (2000-2004) and at the George Washington University in Washington DC (2005-2009), to identify some of the roadblocks that continued to stand in the way of progress:

  1. Lack of a common frame of reference – from (difficulties in) semantics & terminology to (the absence of) an integrated system model
  2. Insufficient awareness/residual knowledge on ‘lessons learned’
  3. Functional gap between ‘policy’ (theory) and ‘practice’
  4. Fragmentation (horizontal and vertical)
  5. Gap and imbalance between managing ‘Risk’, ‘Response’ and ‘Consequence’
  6. Gap and imbalance between ‘pre-impact’ and ‘post-impact’ approaches
  7. Lack of a universal driver (motivator) to maintain focus and a sense of urgency, leading to an unpredictable, spiky pattern of risk-specific threats or threat-specific risks (‘flavor-of-the-month’)
  8. Difficulties in making the (business) case for (ongoing) investment; aside from the problems caused by the virtual nature of ‘product’ and ‘return-on-investment’, the different nature of ‘event-driven’ management (as opposed to ‘traditional’ management) remains under-exposed
  9. The all-important question “How good is ‘good enough’?” is too rarely asked, let alone answered - even though it is the only way to quantify which results are (deemed) acceptable and which are not (“What do we want to settle for?”)

It was further concluded that ‘business as usual’ was no longer a viable option. A fresh approach was needed if only because one cannot solve problems with the same thinking that created them. The next steps were to come up with concepts and methodologies to facilitate this ‘different’ approach and thinking. As a result, reality-fiction “What If…?” scenarios were developed to increase awareness and a sense of co-ownership of problems. These were then combined with an interactive workshop format and a structured dialogue called ‘IKP Focused Feedback’. Thus, it would become possible to not only develop specific conclusions and recommendations for each ‘Critical Moment in Time’ but also to assess the level of consensus or dissent for each of them.

Eventually these and others elements were tied together into a project and the International Katrina Project was a fact. Incorporated as a not-for profit in Washington DC it would start its operation in the Netherlands and Europe