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Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
WED7.5: Prepardness and early warning
Time: Wednesday, 29/Aug/2012: 6:55pm - 8:00pm

Poster Session


Country risk analysis and assessment by humanitarian organization

Sandrine ROUSSY

Action contre la Faim, France

Humanitarian agencies have to tackle hazards and their consequences. Emergency preparedness phase has to be taken into consideration to be able to anticipate and respond accordingly and timely to safe lives while reducing the risk of vulnerable population. Assessing and analyse risks is to make people think about the impacts of hazard that they might have to cope with.

While mitigate the risk, Action Contre la Faim (ACF) is preparing its response in advance, by having a deep understanding of the exposure and risks to hazard encountered in the country. Participatory assessment, targeting the most exposed and vulnerable communities, is conducted to have an overview of the population’s perspective, and to identify which coping mechanisms are developed before, during and after a disaster. Country risk analysis contribute to develop early actions, and to create interface between humanitarian response and disaster preparedness.

ACF set up an internal tool called “Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan” that is taking amongst others “Country Risk Analysis” issues. The risk will vary according to the magnitude of a hazard, the vulnerability of the populations, and their capacity to respond to it. The “Country Risk Analysis” is a key point to decide which risks ACF should focus on in order to establish an early appropriate response. The objectives are to identify the hazards, classify likelihood of each hazard, categorize factors of vulnerability, identify vulnerable groups, and to identify existing capacities and resources, detect the level of population preparedness, and articulate roles and responsibilities between all stakeholders.

Through this approach, ACF is looking forward to ensure a rapid, appropriate, efficient and effective response to save lives in major identified disasters. Moreover our expectation is to make sure that the most vulnerable people can set up early actions to protect their livelihoods, while being supported by the local institutions.

Inter-model influence diagram analysis using modular elicitation methods for evacuation decision-making


1University of Manchester, United Kingdom; 2Warwick University, United Kingdom

Graphical modelling of decisions has been a common tool used in a wide range of analysis methodologies including decision theory and systems thinking. While a process of comparison between like models exist for graphical models within systems thinking, the same cannot be said for the Influence Diagram (ID). Influence Diagrams (ID) are well suited for inter-model analysis due to the explicit interpretation of graphical items within the decision representation. This paper will present a configurable system of IDs to support strategic decision-making. An example of this configurable system will be shown by utilizing strategic-level influence diagrams to analyse evacuation policies across a flood, nuclear dispersion and terrorist attack scenario. The analytical process of the configurable IDs also allows for an analysis of multiple objectives that exist for evacuation decisions. The results of the inter-model analysis show how contextual elements, structural factors and communications factors of the different hazard scenarios have the widest breadth of influence on identified evacuation criteria across the three disaster scenarios. The identification of these common elements across the disaster scenarios represents a type of multi-hazard analysis that can be used to support strategic decisions for general preparedness in advance of catastrophic disaster events.

The need for developing a culture of earthquake shelters to render early warning useful


WAPMERR, Switzerland

Seismologists have developed techniques to estimate location and magnitude of large earthquakes before they have finished rupturing. Based on the resulting early warnings, trains can be stopped and processes in critical facilities may be interrupted before the damaging seismic waves arrive. Many large cities are located so close to active faults that warnings of approaching strong shaking may give only about five seconds lead time. This means that residents cannot make use of early warnings to reach a safe location, unless they install an Earthquake Shelter Unit (ESU) in their apartment. We envision the ESU to be constructed of steel in a corner of a large room in an apartment. If the apartment building is of a type with low to medium resistance to shaking (B to D on the EMS98 classification) and the ESU is of F type (strongest), then we estimate that the probability of survival in case of intensity ten shaking is increased 30,000 to 3,000 fold, respectively. ESUs could become available commercially, as tornado shelters are now, for approximately $5,000, a small price to pay for surviving a disastrous earthquake. ESUs could serve individual families or several families on a single floor in an apartment building, as well as the workforce on each floor of an office building. The early warning could come from a professional organization or the first-arriving, low-amplitude P-wave may be the signal to dash into the earthquake closet before the strong shaking of the S-wave arrives. EPUs will contain survival gear. Falls alarms can easily be tolerated because to step into an EPU located in one’s own apartment is a minimal disturbance of one’s daily routine. We should develop a culture of earthquake awareness and preparedness that includes EPUs.

Seismic prediction and real time early warning make a perfect combination


VVSC FZ LLC UAE, United Kingdom

The L’Aquila experience highlighted challenges in how we use earthquake Prediction and Early Warnings information. It is suggested that the fault lays with the fact that there has been an attempt to use 'Prediction' as ‘Real Time Early Warning’, generating uncertainties of scale and timings plus confused decisions and messaging by Governments and media.

Consequently we believe a new approach is required. Prediction is of little use to society without the ability to actually trigger an alarm at the onset of the event. We need to remove the uncertainty, arming Society with ‘real time’ early warning sensor and communication systems. Long term Prediction is vital, so that critical infrastructure is made aware of their need to prepare, but it’s the short term reliable prediction that needs to be developed and integrated as a key tool in conjunction with the ‘real time early warning’ systems.

There is also a wrong assumption that Governments must put a device into every individuals hands; the reality is that if the regional ‘network system’ is created, society will be able to individually buy into that network for the cost of 20 packets of cigarettes per person.

It is proposed that within this new approach, society will within their sectors hold once or twice yearly exercises or ‘shakeouts’; But these don’t finish simply at the end of the ‘evacuation’ drill, the sector must then remain on standby for the following five days, as the norm, to varying degrees depending if a school, factory or emergency service etc. Consequently this enables that when a reliable 5 day prediction is relayed, an exercise is immediately activated, enabling sectors to take a variety of precautionary measures and when the actual seismic event is triggered ‘everyone’ is ‘switched-on’ and able to effectively use the real time early warning alarm period.

Human preparedness and response to risk: a neuroscience perspective


1Rider University, United States of America; 2University of Jyväskylä & ETS

Neuroscience, the study of the nervous system, is a field of research that is being used increasingly to better understand the underlying processes of human behavior in a variety of contexts. Today, it is not uncommon to see news stories or research articles about the application of neuroscience to areas including economics, politics and marketing, yet a literature survey reveals little focus on how neuroscience may better help understand human response and behavior in disasters. The nervous system of humans and animals includes what can be described as hard-wired circuits and brain regions that respond to sensory inputs and effect response(s). This poster introduces the field of neuroscience and specific aspects of the nervous system that can play a role in human response to risks. The innate capabilities and capacities of the human nervous system to respond to threatening situations, expressed fundamentally in the “fight or flight” response, will be described. The poster introduces a model of how these innate capabilities may be marshaled in conjunction with advances in training and messaging to lead to improved human response to risks and hazards.

A seismic swarm: a social lab to promote earthquake preparedness

Carolina GRANADO, Antonio AGUILAR, Raquel VASQUEZ

Venezuelan Foundation for Seismological Research, FUNVISIS, Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of

We present the experiences of a community located in an active seismic region in western Venezuela during a seismic swarm that lasted four days with 35 events registered by the Venezuelan Seismological Network in January 2011. This was an unique occasion to study the general reaction and concern of an entire community that was moved from a previous disaster which occurred in Venezuela in 1999 and affected dramatically to Vargas state during the torrential rain that generated a disaster zone. The new home of this community is a settlement where the swarm was widely felt. We observed the positive impact of the preventive training programs and public awareness campaigns in short time and how the population was actively involved in their process of adaptation in a region with a potential seismic hazard.

Development of a daily fire danger system


1University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria, Republic of; 2Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics,Austria

To monitor and forecast fire danger many countries use meteorological based fire weather indices (FWI). These indices use daily meteorological input and estimate the fire danger. Outputs are mostly maps indicating the fire hazard for different spatial entities. This approach works well within areas without human impact. But in most European countries ignition is strongly related to human activity. Recently fire researchers are trying to aggregate dynamic weather variables, socioeconomic factors and landscape features related to fire ignition and behaviour to have a better understanding of underlying causes and processes.

In Austria, a new daily fire danger system has been developed to integrate weather data, fuel characteristics, topography, lightning probability and socioeconomic features for the assessment of ignition risk. Additionally, features which are related to fire behaviour (rate of spread, intensity) are combined to express the risk of severe fire behaviour. Here we present the steps to set up the fire danger model: (i) testing and selection of 19 different FWI according to their sensitivity regarding fire ignition in different ecological/climate regions in Austria, taking into account two fire seasons; (ii) definition of thresholds for alert levels based on historical fire records; (iii) development of a fuel type map for Austria expressing potential fire behaviour in different vegetation and land use types; (iv) development of a socioeconomic fire risk model to map spatially explicit fire ignition risk related to human impact; and (v) using topographic features to express ignition danger and fire behaviour. The final step includes aggregating all this information into a daily fire danger model to show daily temporal and spatially explicit fire danger concerning the ignition and the risk of severe fire behaviour.

Best practices and new technologies in fire detection and suppression

Joachim Franz DREIBACH

Fire Watch international AG, Switzerland

Based on the pilot project at the Department “Fire Department Of Bouches-du-Rhône“ it is visible how to integarte such equipment effective and reliable into a powerful Disaster Management system. In this region, each year an area of approximately 30’000 ha is burned.

In summer, the wildfire threat reaches extreme levels when dry and strong winds, blow at 100km/h over the mountain tops and plains and function like a high power fan. The speed of spread of a fire front rolls with up to 2km/hr or more over hilly zones.

In those extreme conditions, a small fire turns out to become a major fire in a period of few minutes and the battle against can only be won, if the professional and well trained teams stop the fire during the first few minutes before its dramatic dynamics are developed.

In addition, the geological area situation, from zero see level up to 1200m mountain regions, requires max employment of the resources and fast, precise decisions by the emergency management stuff.

The French Center of Research and Experience has been observing over the past 10 years a reduction of the average annual burned area by 50% while at the same time fire situation become more and more scarce.

In the South of France for instance we notice a paradox: the average temperature is on the rise, the drying out of forests grows more acute, while the population is expanding in number and inhabited area, thus the fire risk is largely increasing and still the French Center of Research and Experience observes a slight reduction in the annual average surface burned.

This tendency lets assume that all the efforts and advances undertaken over the past, like the high integration of the surveillance system Forest Ranger, start to show their efficiency.

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