Hazard, Threats, Risk, Etc. An examination of some key terms Walter G. Green III, Ph.D., CEM Disaster Theory Series No. 3 Copyright 2008 by Walter G. Green III - use by researchers or in University course work is permitted. HAZARDS Existing condition or possible (under current conditions) situation that has the potential to generate a disaster Natural hazards naturally occurring
phenomena weather, topographic, geological, hydrological, etc. Human systems developed caused by human activity, infrastructure, transportation, etc. Conflict based civil war, terrorism, nuclear war, etc. HAZARDS Hurricanes and tornadoes during their seasons Earthquakes High hazard, poorly maintained dams
Airlines with abysmal safety records Power production systems with either dangerous technologies or poorly maintained transmission systems VULNERABILITIES If you have a hazard you may or may not be vulnerable to it Live in the flood plain vulnerable to floods Live on high ground not vulnerable to floods
Vulnerability is an assessment of how well or how poorly protected you are against an event VULNERABILITIES Vulnerabilities may be reduced by mitigation measures (building construction, land use control, maintenance, etc.) Or by the level of preparedness you have achieved (well trained and
equipped emergency teams, plans, exercises, etc.) RELATED TO VULNERABILITY Three factors may influence the determination of vulnerability Criticality how important is the asset or function that is subject to impact Exposure to how much of the force of the event is the resource exposed Time does vulnerability fluctuate over time of day, month, season?
IMPACT Assessment of interaction of hazard effects with your vulnerabilities Scalar based on the two key variables hazard strength and vulnerability level Will be hazard specific in aggregate (hurricane impacts), but may be functionally common to a variety of hazards in the specific (power loss)
IMPACT MODERATE Strong Hazard Low Vulnerability HIGH Strong Hazard High Vulnerability LOW Weak Hazard
Low Vulnerability MODERATE Weak Hazard High Vulnerability RELATED TO IMPACT Two other factors are related to impact Magnitude the absolute size and power of the event Intensity the measurement of the effects of the event how it is felt
All else being equal an event with greater magnitude will tend to be a more intense event and generate greater impacts CONSEQUENCES Result of the interaction of the Impact of the event with other systems Political, Social and cultural, Economic, etc. May set the stage for either:
Future events, or Vulnerability reduction through mitigation and preparedness CONSEQUENCES The border between consequence and impact is fuzzy, but Impacts tend to be directly related to the effects of the event, consequences more second order Impacts tend to be shorter term (hours to decades), consequences longer term (weeks to centuries) Although coupled to impacts, consequences are
neither automatic nor irreversible Consequences tend to be more human-centric, impacts more event-centric we make the consequences, the event makes the impact PROBABILITY A mathematical assessment of how likely it is that a specific event will occur Based on a wide variety of factors history, global warming, infrastructure and demographic changes, new
industries, changes in your activities and processes, etc. PROBABILITY Expressed in a variety of ways: This year we expect 14 named tropical storms, 8 hurricanes, 3 great hurricanes (an assessment of general level) There is a 45% chance of (a numerical assessment) A 500 year flood (a statement of cycles) And then there is likelihood: I think it is
highly likely that (a qualitative assessment) LIKELIHOOD An inexact, qualitative statement of how one assesses probability Generally expressed in broad bands that cover a range of probability values High likely Low unlikely Easily understood, but also misleading likely is interpreted as yes, it will, unlikely as no, it
will not THREAT The operationalization of vulnerability, expected impact of a developing hazard, and the probability that impact will work against your vulnerabilities Threat means something bad is coming your way high threat means it is highly likely to hit you and it will be very bad
RISK Expressed in a wide variety of ways based on what you are using risk for financial risk, operational risk, etc. Classic risk model in disaster response is: Risk = Probability x Impact THE FLOW HAZARD
VULNERABILITY THREAT IMPACT ^ ^ CONSEQUENCE PROBABILITY RISK
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