Innovations in risk assessment data
Urban risk assessment
Dynamic cities, dynamic risk – Representing urban change in disaster risk models
GFDRR, University of Adelaide
The world’s urban population continues to grow rapidly in many parts of the world, with urban areas expanding or densifying to accommodate this growth. As a result, new structures are built on previously undeveloped land, density of development is intensified and multiple infrastructure systems need to be expanded or improved to provide more capacity. These changes fundamentally change the exposure and vulnerability of people, their built environment and livelihoods, to disaster risk. They change the magnitude, the distribution and the concentration of disaster risk.
We generally estimate risk using a snapshot of the conditions at one time point – when it comes to exposure and vulnerability this represents the built environment and population at the present time, or at a moment in the recent past (e.g. at the most recent census). A greater number of risk assessments now apply future socio-economic scenarios to estimate future risk, but this has largely been based on simple trending of asset values and population numbers based on shared socio-economic pathways (SSPs).
With the growth in urban development modelling, and new tools emerging that link these changes to risk quantification, it is now possible to better represent the impact of planned changes in the urban environment on disaster risk projections. Can we use these developments as a springboard to better account for urban dynamics in risk models more widely, and ultimately enable risk understanding to be updated dynamically, to keep pace with the changing built environment and account for potential changes in the coming decades?
We bring together experts in risk modelling, planning decision-support systems, machine learning and infrastructure systems to discuss how we can best account for the uncertain future built environment, in risk information. The audience, with inputs from our panellists including short model demonstrations, will discuss: the shortcomings of current risk models in representing urban dynamics; the challenges of including urban dynamics in risk models; what future model capabilities should provide; and how to provide meaningful decision support for urban development in the design of less-exposed and more-resilient cities and regions.
This session is being held in conjunction with a hands-on side event where users can experiment with the decision-support system UNHARMED, among others.
Mapathons, machine-learning, models – oh my! A friendly debate about data sources and how to use them
Mapbox, MIT Urban Risk Lab
The world of data sources that are useful for the assessment and communication of risk is expanding rapidly. New and emerging data sources, especially for geospatial data, present exciting opportunities to aid disaster prevention, preparation, response, and recovery. However there are important questions about when and how to use these data sources, especially for government actors. Join us for a friendly debate and discussion of the merits and limitations of various data sources, with a particular focus on geospatial data such as crowd-sourced maps and machine-generated data from satellite imagery. This conversation will contribute to a broader consensus around ways of bridging conventional protocols and novel techniques for data creation, processing, and use throughout the disaster timeline.
Risk assessment for nature-based solutions
Green Thumbs: Innovations in Modelling Tools for Nature-based Solutions
Deltares, World Bank
Nature-based solutions (NBS) are a new way to manage risks and provide people with protection against hazards, such as floods and erosion. Instead of using conventional engineering measures such as dams, dikes or embankments, nature-based solutions employ natural capital such as mangroves or salt marshes to mitigate waves, stabilize shorelines and thereby reduce the total disaster risk.
For NBS to become mainstream and get incorporated as a standard option in the portfolio’s of governments, decision-makers and risk managers, NBS proof-of-concept is critical as well as an equal comparison of the risk reduction between traditional and nature-based solutions. For that purpose, modelling tools are essential but require a different approach and inclusion of nature-based interventions. Innovative modelling approaches are needed to deal with the inherent dynamic nature and to confirm NBS as an equally effective risk reduction strategy. One essential element in NBS modelling is to include a systems perspective. In addition, the connection between the physical, ecological and social system should be made. The aim of this technical session is to demonstrate and show advancement in modelling tools that aid in decision-making on disaster risk reduction by nature-based solutions.
In the session we reflect on and demonstrate decision frameworks and modelling approaches that prove the effectiveness of NBS on national, regional and local scales and in different phases of the decision-making process. This includes recent advancements and state-of-the-art modelling tools, visualization techniques and applications in NBS case studies. In addition, a dialogue on the practical applicability of the tools and further needs for tool development will be discussed involving the practical perspectives of the session participants.
Innovations in risk communication
Using behavioral science to inform risk information
Nudge for inclusive resilience: Helping communities make informed decisions for their safety
Over the last few decades, governments and development partners have been increasing investment in modernization of Hydrometeorological and Early Warning system in low- and middle-income countries. Yet, timely evacuation and protective actions are challenges, and many lives are lost in many countries. It’s particularly challenging if you are differently-abled and cannot access or understand warning information at all or in a timely manner. The session will discuss why people do/do not prepare themselves and/or take protective action (e.g. evacuate) even while early warning messages, though at varying levels, are made available to them. The session will also discuss what makes some information more helpful than others in encouraging people with different abilities and needs (e.g., disabilities, gender, age, literacy, cultural/ethnic backgrounds) to take the necessary risk mitigation actions, and what would be necessary to influence individual/group decision-making towards improved preventive outcomes and resilience.
What is a Flood? Risk Perceptions and Decisions
World Bank (Urban Floods Community of Practice), NUS Lloyd’s Register Foundation Institute for the Public Understanding of Risk, NUS Deltares
This session seeks to examine flood risk perception and its implications for decisions on prevention and preparedness. Flood risk perception is the assessment of the probability of hazard and the probability of results perceived by society and is a key aspect of flood risk management . The effective communication of risk is a precursor to improvements in risk data collection and analysis, and subsequent investment decisions. However, risk perception is an intervening factor between risk communication and risk mitigation actions at the community level. Decision-makers need to take risk perceptions into account to develop risk communication strategies to avoid underestimation of risk. Risk perception is also an important factor in risk-based planning and the prioritization of flood resilience measures, influencing the options available for flood risk management, such as insurance. Encouraging participatory decision-making can enable decision-makers to assess the acceptable level of risk that populations can bear and corresponding flood risk management interventions.
Yet flood risk perceptions are subjective and varying. There are many stakeholders involved, each of whom may have a different interest, perception of risk, cultural attitude toward risk, language or vocabulary, and scientific literacy. For example, what are considered serious floods in a country or community with a low risk tolerance may be considered as mild inundation or temporary water logging in another. Within a country, rural and urban communities may also have different perceptions of the same event. This session therefore aims to explore the nuances in judgment of risk and trace their implications for flood risk management. It will discuss how decision-makers can take risk perception into account under conditions of uncertainty, assessing the acceptable level of risk for populations to bear.
The technical session will explore the following issues: the importance of flood risk perceptions in flood risk management; current attitudes and differing levels of tolerance to risk; challenges in identifying flood risk perceptions; assumptions underlying different risk perceptions; factors that influence risk perception; risk tolerance under climate uncertainty; risk communication and risk management strategies in light of risk perceptions.
 Lechowska, Ewa. “What determines flood risk perception? A review of factors of flood risk perception and relations between its basic elements.” Natural Hazards (2018) 94:13431-1366.
Risk communication in a fragile setting
Teaching to the nth degree: Effectiverisk communication in Rohingya camps In Bangladesh
New York University, Bangladesh Cyclone Preparedness Programme, Bangladesh Disaster Preparedness Centre, American Red Cross, World Bank
Over the last three years, close to a million Rohingya community members have left Myanmar and settled in the hills in the outskirts of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Among the many challenges facing the Rohingya settlers is the considerable risks from the torrential monsoons and massive tropical cyclones that beleaguer Bangladesh each year. In working with the Rohingya community, the team faced two significant challenges. First, how does one create a new disaster reduction programme and early warning system in a place where no institutions exist? The CPP and ARC will share their story of how this work entailed dealing with serious challenges around language and communication. Secondly, how does one encourage proactive risk-reducing action among a community that is in a foreign place and still reeling from the trauma of being forced to leave their homeland? BDPC and NYU will share their story of how the risk communication intervention evolved and, with an exercise involving participation of the audience, will illustrate how the risk communication workshops work. The design is called “Teaching to the nth” because participants train themselves to train others and, in so doing, allow knowledge to reach even the most secluded parts of the community. Lastly, the programme is placed within the larger context of the World Bank’s effort at cyclone preparedness in Bangladesh, which includes the building of thousands of multipurpose cyclone shelters all over the country. (See project website at https://environmental-communication.space).