In order to protect against a threat, it must first be identified. The International City/County Management Association (ICMA), along with 18 endorsing organizations, created a list of the top eight emerging threats facing communities. The ICMA participated in a white paper released by the National Homeland Security Consortium in which members recommended that communities protect against imminent threats as well as long-term foreseeable threats.

The report highlighted the importance of coordination between local, state, federal and international agencies to address many of the threats outlined. According to the report, member organizations should also attempt to establish greater understanding, as these threats are not fully understood. “The public is best served by open, honest, and genuine debate amongst all those charged with the protection and service to that very public,” it concludes.

The top eight health, safety and security concerns identified are:

  1. Cyber hazards
  2. Climate change
  3. Demands on global resources
  4. Changing demographics
  5. Emerging technologies
  6. Violent extreme ideologies
  7. WMD proliferation
  8. Mega hazards and catastrophic cascading consequences

Access the full report, entitled "Protecting Americans in the 21st Century: Communicating Priorities for 2012 and Beyond," via ICMA's website.