Risk Analysis: An International Journal
Building an interdisciplinary team is critical to disaster response research as it often deals with acute onset events, short decision horizons, constrained resources, and uncertainties related to rapidly unfolding response environments. This article examines three teaming mechanisms for interdisciplinary disaster response research, including ad hoc and/or grant proposal driven teams, research center or institute based teams, and teams oriented by matching expertise toward long‐term collaborations. Using hurricanes as the response context, it further examines several types of critical data that require interdisciplinary collaboration on collection, integration, and analysis. Last, suggesting a data‐driven approach to engaging multiple disciplines, the article advocates building interdisciplinary teams for disaster response research with a long‐term goal and an integrated research protocol.
A Decision‐Centered Method to Evaluate Natural Hazards Decision Aids by Interdisciplinary Research Teams
There is a growing number of decision aids made available to the general public by those working on hazard and disaster management. When based on high‐quality scientific studies across disciplines and designed to provide a high level of usability and trust, decision aids become more likely to improve the quality of hazard risk management and response decisions. Interdisciplinary teams have a vital role to play in this process, ensuring the scientific validity and effectiveness of a decision aid across the physical science, social science, and engineering dimensions of hazard awareness, option identification, and the decisions made by individuals and communities. Often, these aids are not evaluated before being widely distributed, which could improve their impact, due to a lack of dedicated resources and guidance on how to systematically do so. In this Perspective, we present a decision‐centered method for evaluating the impact of hazard decision aids on decisionmaker preferences and choice during the design and development phase, drawing from the social and behavioral sciences and a value of information framework to inform the content, complexity, format, and overall evaluation of the decision aid. The first step involves quantifying the added value of the information contained in the decision aid. The second involves identifying the extent to which the decision aid is usable. Our method can be applied to a variety of hazards and disasters, and will allow interdisciplinary teams to more effectively evaluate the extent to which an aid can inform and improve decision making.
Integrated Risk Assessment and Management Methods Are Necessary for Effective Implementation of Natural Hazards Policy
A transdisciplinary, integrated risk assessment and risk management process is particularly beneficial to the development of policies addressing risk from natural hazards. Strategies based on isolated risk assessment and management processes, guided by traditional “predict, then act” methods for decision making, may induce major regret if future conditions diverge from predictions. Analytic methods designed to identify robust solutions—those that perform satisfactorily over a broader range of future conditions—are more suitable for management of natural hazards risks, for at least three major reasons discussed within. Such approaches benefit from co‐production of knowledge to collaboratively produce adaptive, robust policies through an iterative process of dialogue between analysts, decisionmakers, and other stakeholders: exploring tradeoffs, searching for futures in which current plans are likely to fail, and developing adaptive management strategies responsive to evolving future conditions. The process leads to more effective adoption of risk management policies by ensuring greater feasibility of solutions, exploring a wide range of plausible future conditions, generating buy‐in, and giving a voice to actors with a diversity of perspectives. The second half of the article presents Louisiana's coastal master planning process as an exemplary model of participatory planning and integrated risk assessment and management. Louisiana planners have adopted a decision framework that incorporates insights from modern methods for decision making under deep uncertainty to effectively address the deep uncertainties and complexities characteristic of a variety of natural hazards and long‐range planning problems.
Potential of Citizen Science for Enhancing Infrastructure Monitoring Data and Decision‐Support Models for Local Communities
Citizen science is a process by which volunteer members of the public, who commonly lack advanced training in science, engage in scientific activities (e.g., data collection) that might otherwise be beyond the reach of professional researchers or practitioners. The purpose of this article is to discuss how citizen‐science projects coordinated by interdisciplinary teams of engineers and social scientists can potentially enhance infrastructure monitoring data and decision‐support models for local communities. The article provides an interdisciplinary definition of infrastructure data quality that extends beyond accuracy to include currency, timeliness, completeness, and equitability. We argue that with this expanded definition of data quality, citizen science can be a viable method for enhancing the quality of infrastructure monitoring data, and ultimately the credibility of risk analysis and decision‐support models that use these data. The article concludes with a set of questions to aid in producing high‐quality infrastructure monitoring data by volunteer citizen scientists.
An Approach for Guiding the Development and Assessing the Interdisciplinarity of New Methodologies for Community Disaster Resilience
There are critical and preventable inequalities in disaster impacts and postdisaster recovery. To formulate solutions for minimizing or preventing these unequal impacts, there is a great need for interdisciplinary methodologies that use social factors to set project scopes and drive engineering analyses and designs. At present time, however, limited guidance exists on how to develop and execute interdisciplinary methodologies, especially related to the study of community disaster resilience. This article offers an approach for developing and assessing interdisciplinary research methodologies. The framework incorporates insights from social science into structural engineering for integrated research focused on community disaster resilience. The two examples offered in the article assess the interdisciplinarity of two loss estimation methodologies. The goal of this perspectives article is to facilitate future interdisciplinary community disaster resilience research given its potential for transformative outcomes in terms of encouraging decision making that is driven by the needs of those who are often overlooked in disaster mitigation and recovery policies.
Over the past four decades, the promise of public participation to improve decisions, obtain legitimacy, and build capacity for risk decision making and management has had a mixed record. In this article, we offer a narrative of how public participation has evolved in the United States and we examine prospects for its future. We trace three forces that have had significant impact on practice: an emergent emphasis on democratic deliberation, a transition from dichotomous thinking about science versus politics to an integrated perspective, and the recognition that different parties to the decision‐making process bring valid epistemological contributions. The promise of public participation in risk decision making is challenged by loss of trust in institutions and individuals and by broad socio‐political dynamics that are weakening democratic values and processes. These include the scarcity of attitudes and aptitudes supportive of public participation among both individuals and institutions; an anti‐democratic political atmosphere that promotes disrespect; pursuit of private interests over the common good; failure to appreciate the limitations of dialogue and learning; underutilization of existing knowledge; and insufficient knowledge of how context matters. We end by offering several suggestions for focusing further research and improving practice.
As emphasis on interdisciplinary and convergent research grows, researchers and institutions can benefit from additional insights into how to build interdisciplinary integration within the research process. This article presents signs of successful interdisciplinary research and proposes strategies that researchers can implement to help create and sustain integration across fields. Drawing on the authors’ experiences, other examples from hazards research, and the literature on interdisciplinarity, the article asserts that successful interdisciplinary research incorporates full intellectual participation by each contributing field, forming a multiway partnership. Such work can frame new research questions, develop novel approaches, and generate innovative insights across and within disciplines. It can also address complex questions at the intersections of established fields, beyond what the collection of contributing fields can produce on their own. To build integration across fields, researchers can use strategies such as interweaving perspectives in the research foci, interacting regularly at the working level, and interconnecting knowledge and ideas throughout the research process. Another strategy is leadership that enables contributions from multiple fields and empowers interdisciplinary synthesis. During the research process, researcher commitment, curiosity, willingness to take risks, and flexibility are also important, along with patience and persistence as challenges arise.
Increasing trends in global flood risk are driven by a complex web of interactions among natural, built environment, and social systems. As a result, flood resilience research is an ideal topic for an interdisciplinary approach. Core characteristics of interdisciplinary research are team collaboration and the systematic integration of disciplinary knowledge, in both problem formulation and analytical methods. Indicators of interdisciplinarity tend to focus on scholarly outcomes, but collaborative processes may be even more important for knowledge integration. In this Perspective piece, we outline and advocate a two‐pronged approach to enhance potential for integrating knowledge: using collaborative proximity to assess team readiness to conduct interdisciplinary research and employing program evaluation to assess change in proximity components over time. To do so, we draw on scholarship in economic geography, team science, and program evaluation. We then connect the findings to a case study of collaboration within our interdisciplinary team of flood researchers, program evaluators, and local stakeholders, as we navigate a multi‐institutional project on flood resilience.
Disasters occur at the intersections of social, natural, and built environments, and robust understanding of these interactions can only occur through insight generated from different disciplines. Yet, there are cultural, epistemological, and methodological differences across the many disciplines concerned with hazards and disasters that can make conducting interdisciplinary research difficult. Approaches are needed to overcome these challenges. This article argues that interdisciplinary disaster research can be successful when it entails an iterative process in which researchers from different disciplines work collaboratively and exert reciprocal influence to generate disaster systems knowledge. Disaster systems knowledge is interdisciplinary and is defined as a comprehensive understanding of the intersections of built, natural, and human environmental factors and their interplay in hazards and disasters. The iterative process can reduce disciplinary biases and privileges by encouraging collaboration among researchers to help ensure disciplinary knowledge complements other disciplinary knowledge, to ultimately generate interdisciplinary disaster systems knowledge. The article concludes by illustrating the process by analyzing a research case study of an interdisciplinary approach to volcanic risk reduction.
Cultivating Metacognition in Each of Us: Thinking About “Thinking” in Interdisciplinary Disaster Research
Although there is an emerging literature on interdisciplinary disaster research (IDR), one of the overlooked aspects relates to our thinking itself: how to actively think about our thinking—metacognition—while embarking on our interdisciplinary journeys. This article argues that metacognition has an instrumental value both for IDR projects and for individual researchers involved in IDR. For IDR projects, metacognition can help: (1)overcome disciplinary barriers in IDR by revealing cognitive abilities and inabilities for each team member through identifying what is hindering or enabling individuals and the group to transcend disciplinary boundaries toward true integration across the disciplines; (2)deal with “wicked” problems that characterize disaster contexts in a more effective and creative manner; (3)oversee team functioning; and (4)monitor and evaluate progress toward meeting project goals and objectives. For individual researchers, metacognition can help them grow intellectually, and understand the fallacies and limitations in their thinking. It can also encourage them to live an authentic and unified life as an individual. The article concludes with guidance on how individual researchers, principal investigators of IDR projects, and institutions such as universities and funding agencies can cultivate metacognition. To our knowledge, this is the first article that introduces metacognition as a tool for enhancing our thinking on IDR.
Work Conditions, Social Incorporations, and Foodborne Diseases Risk: Reflections About the (Non)Compliance of Food Safety Practices
The number of foodborne diseases has increased in all continents, and efforts must be made to control this urgent and expressive public health problem. This article aims to present and discuss situations related to the compliance and noncompliance of food safety practices (FSPs) in light of Bourdieu's social theory. This qualitative study was conducted in commercial restaurants in two cities in São Paulo, Brazil. Participant observation was used in the restaurants, and notes referring to the kitchen workers and their bosses’ work processes were registered in field journals. Thematic type content analysis was used to determine the meaning cores of field journals. It was found that aspects inherent to convenience and haste at work, deficient infrastructure, lack of employees, negative boss examples, exposure to noise, and body pain experienced by workers can contribute to noncompliance of FSPs and consolidate in the habitus and practical sense some dispositions that can increase the risk of foodborne diseases. This study highlights the necessity of creating environments that address food safety, which means being able to perform a service properly.
Safety Regulations and the Uncertainty of Work‐Related Road Accident Loss: The Triple Identity of Chinese Local Governments Under Principal–Agent Framework
This study examines how government safety regulations affect the uncertainty of work‐related road accident loss (UWRAL) by considering the multi‐identity of local governments in the relationship among the central government, the local governments, and enterprises. Fixed effects panel models and mediation analyses with bootstrapping were conducted to test the hypotheses using Chinese provincial panel data from 2008 to 2014. Given the complexity and nonlinear characteristics of road safety systems, a new approach based on self‐organized criticality theory is proposed to measure the uncertainty of road accident loss from a complex system perspective. We find that a regional government with detailed safety work planning (SWP), high safety supervision intensity (SSI), and safety information transparency (SIT) can decrease the UWRAL. Furthermore, our findings suggest that SSI and SIT partially mediate the relationship between the SWP of regional governments and the UWRAL, with 19.7% and 23.6% indirect effects, respectively. This study also provides the government with managerial implications by linking the results of risk assessment to decision making for risk management.
Uncertain Risk Assessment and Management: Case Studies of the Application of the Precautionary Principle in Portugal
This study intends to clarify how the precautionary principle (PP) has been interpreted and applied by the courts in Portugal in the analysis of conflicts associated with uncertain and serious potential risks to human health and the environment. It also aims to contribute to the debate of when and how to apply precautionary measures. To this end, recent court cases in the areas of waste incineration, high‐voltage power lines, as well as dam and wind farm construction were considered. The degree of consistency in the courts’ decisions and their reasons in the different judicial bodies was analyzed with the support of a theoretical framework based on three attributes: the level of seriousness of potential hazards, level of evidence required, and the severity of precautionary actions taken. Different positions among courts were observed, with contradictory arguments in the same case or in similar cases. A greater propensity for favorable decisions in the acceptance of restraining orders was verified in the courts of lower instances, where human health could be threatened. However, the decisions of the Supreme Administrative Court, which were always unfavorable to the restraining orders, seem to reflect the priority given to national economic and political interests over local or regional environmental interests. They may also reflect the Supreme Court's reluctancy to apply the PP in the absence of a firm legally binding PP in national legislation. To address this situation, more explicit legal requirements and criteria for the analysis of uncertain risks and the weighting of interests by area of activity are needed.
It is estimated that in the United States, people spend 90% of their time in buildings. In order to ensure quality of life for communities, we propose a human‐centric design approach to building “functionality.” “Functionality” is defined as the set of “essential services” to meet occupant needs for safety and well‐being. These services include lighting, heating and cooling, ventilation, water supply, and wastewater management. At present, a multidisciplinary top‐down approach exists where owners dictate the building operations to architects. Our central thesis is that a bottom‐up approach based on occupant safety and well‐being should drive the functionality design process. Research on occupant well‐being conducted by social scientists should be considered by architects in creating the building functionality layout. One of the results of this research should be a set of the type and level of services required for well‐being. Architects and engineers should work together to design physical systems to ensure that the derived acceptable levels of the services not be exceeded for various frequencies of occurrence tied to the weather conditions at the site. In order to make this approach viable, minimal amounts of continuous electric power must be made available such as through building integrated photovoltaic panels. The corresponding onsite power generation and storage needs are therefore a critical aspect of the proposed formulation. It is anticipated that significant interactions during the iterative building design process among the architects and social scientists with the engineering disciplines will change an existing multidisciplinary approach into an interdisciplinary one.
Previous studies of risk behavior observed weak or inconsistent relationships between risk perception and risk‐taking. One aspect that has often been neglected in such studies is the situational context in which risk behavior is embedded: Even though a person may perceive a behavior as risky, the social norms governing the situation may work as a counteracting force, overriding the influence of risk perception. Three food context studies are reported. In Study 1 (N = 200), we assess how norm strength varies across different social situations, relate the variation in norm strength to the social characteristics of the situation, and identify situations with consistently low and high levels of pressure to comply with the social norm. In Study 2 (N = 502), we investigate how willingness to accept 15 different foods that vary in terms of objective risk relates to perceived risk in situations with low and high pressure to comply with a social norm. In Study 3 (N = 1,200), we test how risk‐taking is jointly influenced by the perceived risk associated with the products and the social norms governing the situations in which the products are served. The results indicate that the effects of risk perception and social norm are additive, influencing risk‐taking simultaneously but as counteracting forces. Social norm had a slightly stronger absolute effect, leading to a net effect of increased risk‐taking. The relationships were stable over different social situations and food safety risks and did not disappear when detailed risk information was presented.
Evacuation is frequently used by emergency managers and other officials as part of an overall approach to reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with hurricane landfall. In this study, the evacuation shelter capacity of the Houston–Galveston Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was spatially assessed and shelter deficits in the region were estimated. These data provide essential information needed to eliminate shelter deficits and ensure a successful evacuation from a future storm. Spatial statistical methods—Global Moran's I, Anselin Local Moran's I (Local Indicators of Spatial Association [LISA]), and Hot Spot Analysis (Getis‐Ord Gi*) were used to assess for regional spatial autocorrelation and clustering of evacuation shelters in the Houston–Galveston MSA. Shelter deficits were estimated in four ways—the aggregate deficit for the Houston–Galveston MSA, by evacuation Zip‐Zone, by county, and by distance or radii of evacuation Zip‐Zone. Evacuation shelters were disproportionately distributed in the region, with lower capacity shelters clustered closer to evacuation Zip‐Zones (50 miles from the Coastal Zip‐Zone), and higher capacity shelters clustered farther away from the zones (120 miles from the Coastal Zip‐Zone). The aggregate shelter deficit for the Houston–Galveston MSA was 353,713 persons. To reduce morbidity and mortality associated with future hurricanes in the Houston–Galveston MSA, authorities should consider the development and implementation of policies that would improve the evacuation shelter capacity of the region. Eliminating shelter deficits, which has been done successfully in the state of Florida, is an essential element of protecting the public from hurricane impacts.
Nearly 20 years after the year 2000 target for global wild poliovirus (WPV) eradication, live polioviruses continue to circulate with all three serotypes posing challenges for the polio endgame. We updated a global differential equation‐based poliovirus transmission and stochastic risk model to include programmatic and epidemiological experience through January 2020. We used the model to explore the likely dynamics of poliovirus transmission for 2019–2023, which coincides with a new Global Polio Eradication Initiative Strategic Plan. The model stratifies the global population into 72 blocks, each containing 10 subpopulations of approximately 10.7 million people. Exported viruses go into subpopulations within the same block and within groups of blocks that represent large preferentially mixing geographical areas (e.g., continents). We assign representative World Bank income levels to the blocks along with polio immunization and transmission assumptions, which capture some of the heterogeneity across countries while still focusing on global poliovirus transmission dynamics. We also updated estimates of reintroduction risks using available evidence. The updated model characterizes transmission dynamics and resulting polio cases consistent with the evidence through 2019. Based on recent epidemiological experience and prospective immunization assumptions for the 2019–2023 Strategic Plan, the updated model does not show successful eradication of serotype 1 WPV by 2023 or successful cessation of oral poliovirus vaccine serotype 2‐related viruses.
According to the class of de minimis decision principles, risks can be ignored (or at least treated very differently from other risks) if the risk is sufficiently small. In this article, we argue that a de minimis threshold has no place in a normative theory of decision making, because the application of the principle will either recommend ignoring risks that should not be ignored (e.g., the sure death of a person) or it cannot be used by ordinary bounded and information‐constrained agents.
Construal‐level theory suggests that high‐level abstract features weigh more in people's decision‐making at farther distance, while low‐level concrete features weigh more at closer distance. Based on this, we propose that psychological distance will influence the effect of risk versus efficacy framing on climate change engagement. In particular, risk perception related to the end‐state expectancy of climate change mitigation should influence people's climate change engagement at farther distance. In contrast, efficacy perception related to the perceived feasibility of attaining end‐state goals should influence engagement at closer distance. Results from an experimental survey based on a national sample that is both demographically and geographically representative (N = 1,282) supported our proposition. At closer spatial distance, perceived efficacy boosted by efficacy framing increased participants’ intention to perform climate mitigation behaviors. In contrast, at farther distance, risk framing increased behavioral intention through heightened risk perception. Based on these findings, we suggest that when communicating distant and abstract risks, highlighting their disastrous impacts may better motivate action. In contrast, when communicating impending and concrete risks, stressing the feasibility of action may have stronger motivational potential.
Human factors are widely regarded to be highly contributing factors to maritime accident prevention system failures. The conventional methods for human factor assessment, especially quantitative techniques, such as fault trees and bow‐ties, are static and cannot deal with models with uncertainty, which limits their application to human factors risk analysis. To alleviate these drawbacks, in the present study, a new human factor analysis framework called multidimensional analysis model of accident causes (MAMAC) is introduced. MAMAC combines the human factors analysis and classification system and business process management. In addition, intuitionistic fuzzy set theory and Bayesian Network are integrated into MAMAC to form a comprehensive dynamic human factors analysis model characterized by flexibility and uncertainty handling. The proposed model is tested on maritime accident scenarios from a sand carrier accident database in China to investigate the human factors involved, and the top 10 most highly contributing primary events associated with the human factors leading to sand carrier accidents are identified. According to the results of this study, direct human factors, classified as unsafe acts, are not a focus for maritime investigators and scholars. Meanwhile, unsafe preconditions and unsafe supervision are listed as the top two considerations for human factors analysis, especially for supervision failures of shipping companies and ship owners. Moreover, potential safety countermeasures for the most highly contributing human factors are proposed in this article. Finally, an application of the proposed model verifies its advantages in calculating the failure probability of accidents induced by human factors.