By Tim Sutton, Charlotte Morgan, and Vivien Deparday

The importance of pre-disaster planning

A key activity in disaster preparedness is conveying to disaster managers and response teams the potential impacts of a disaster in their area of remit. A scenario based approach allows simple questions to be posed:

“What will the potential impact be of a flood like the one we had ten years ago given current population and infrastructure levels?”

“If there is an earthquake, how many people might be affected at different MMI levels?”

“If there is a volcano eruption, how many buildings might be affected, and what types of buildings are they?”

Posing simple questions in this way provides a powerful way to help disaster managers communicate to others about how they would deal with a disaster in their area and how they might mitigate the effects of a disaster should it occur. Disaster managers also need ways to validate their response planning activities.


InaSAFE ( is a free and open source tool that provides the capability to do just this. InaSAFE introduces a way for practitioners to quickly assemble exposure data, combine it with hazard data and produce an impact scenario in both spatial and tabular form.

InaSAFE also provides easy-to-use tools to extract exposure and contextual data from (‘OSM’) – a massive, online repository of open (freely usable and redistributable) geospatial data covering nearly every part of the world. Building outlines and road networks extracted from OSM can be used as the basis for understanding the potential impacts of natural disasters. InaSAFE can also be used with population data and derive demographic breakdowns and proposed quantities of critical relief items for people’s minimum needs. InaSAFE can be used with other data sources too.

It currently supports the following hazards: earthquake, volcano, tsunami, flood and generic hazards (where the are only hazard levels such as high, medium and low) are provided. InaSAFE is also extensible – support for more hazard and exposure types is coming in the future, and the InaSAFE application is limited only by the imagination of the user.

InaSAFE at UR2016

In May 2016, the InaSAFE team will be holding a 1 day workshop as a precursor to the Understanding Risk conference in Venice, Italy. The InaSAFE project will be introduced by representatives from:

  • World Bank
  • DMInnovation (an Australian Government Project in Indonesia Supporting Science and Technology for Disaster Management) / Geoscience Australia
  • Kartoza (based in South Africa)
  • Members of our user community from around the world

The day’s activities will be divided into two parts:

In the morning session we will demonstrate a learning workflow for disaster managers-in-training by means of a ‘serious game’. Through group participation and an interactive game, we will demonstrate how early investment in disaster preparedness and planning for disasters can have huge societal benefits.

In the afternoon session we will showcase some of the pioneering work that has been done by the InaSAFE user community. Existing users and partners will show how they use InaSAFE to prepare for disasters. We will also hold an open forum session where members of the InaSAFE user community can share their experiences and where disaster experts can share the issues they are dealing with. We will explore ways in which InaSAFE can help either in it’s current form or through future development of the platform.

We hope you can join us for the InaSAFE Focus Day at Understanding Risk 2016 – we look forward to meeting you there helping you to discover how InaSAFE can be used in your organisation!