The worst of the COVID-19 pandemic might be behind us, but are you prepared for the next public health crisis? The risk of uncertainty is an expensive one, and to not “expect the unexpected” results in a far heftier price to pay. The current inflationary environment on the heels of COVID-19 is a prime example of such.
While we are all likely sick of talking about the pandemic, the reality is that it brought a fresh onslaught of risks and exposed a long list of challenges that could impact municipalities for decades to come. From infrastructure damage to emerging technology, workers' compensation, discrimination and cyber risk, public municipalities have never been so vulnerable to risk.
In order to know where to start in future-proofing, we must first analyze the risks currently impacting municipalities and their constituents:
By 2030, the frequency of weather events such as heatwaves, droughts and extreme rainstorms will all more than double (1). These events have far reaching impacts on every community. Droughts can harm food production and human health. Flooding can lead to disease spread and damage to infrastructure. Many communities are not yet prepared to face climate-related threats, which will cost their communities even more if they don’t start to prepare now.
Any organization that stores sensitive or personal information such as addresses, social security numbers or payment details are at risk from cyber criminals who can try to steal data from your computer systems. Most commonly using ransomware, cyber criminals on average demand more than $200,000 in exchange for that information (2). But the cost of these breaches goes far beyond the original act itself and can have lasting consequences for your community in the amount of millions tax payer dollars. Last year, the average cost of a data breach was just under $4 million dollars. (3)
While the above may be daunting, there are immediate steps municipalities can take to minimize liability and build business continuity planning into their strategy:
Every community faces unique environmental challenges, but in the event of an extreme weather event a successful response will be based on preparedness. Careful planning can save lives and prevent damage to vital infrastructure. Technology can help reduce complexity, increase communication, and assist those responsible for community safety.
There steps to help prevent a cyber-attack including securing your systems and data using multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA is a security method that can help stop cyber-attacks. Maintaining your computer equipment, conducting a risk assessment of each system, and evaluating your technology solutions providers are additional ways to help mitigate the risk (4).
Ultimately, those who fail to learn the lessons of the pandemic and choose not to put the right protocols in place greatly increase the cost and risk exposure for public municipalities. But with these steps to future-proof and risk management, public municipalities can better stay ahead of the next health crisis, recession, and more.
*The views and opinions expressed in the Public Risk Management Association (PRIMA) blogs are those of each respective author. The views and opinions do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRIMA.*
By: Greg Sisson
Senior Vice President, Charles Taylor
Greg Sisson, senior vice president at Charles Taylor, helps oversee third-party claims administration for municipalities, utilities, school districts and private employers across the United States. They offer a full suite of claims management solutions including managed care, Medicare compliance and counter-fraud services to help payors control their total cost of risk.
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