EISG in Risk Analysis

Risk Analysis is the official journal of Society for Risk Analysis and publishes peer-reviewed, original research on both the theory and practice of risk. The application areas are vast. Below are articles with particular relevance to the Engineering and Infrastructure Specialty Group.

April 2019

Decision‐Making Analytics Using Plural Resilience Parameters for Adaptive Management of Complex Systems
It is critical for complex systems to effectively recover, adapt, and reorganize after system disruptions. Common approaches for evaluating system resilience typically study single measures of performance at one time, such as with a single resilience curve. However, multiple measures of performance are needed for complex systems that involve many components, functions, and noncommensurate valuations of performance. Hence, this article presents a framework for: (1) modeling resilience for complex systems with competing measures of performance, and (2) modeling decision making for investing in these systems using multiple stakeholder perspectives and multicriteria decision analysis. This resilience framework, which is described and demonstrated in this article via a real‐world case study, will be of interest to managers of complex systems, such as supply chains and large‐scale infrastructure networks.

Improved Methods for Estimating Flood Depth Exceedances Within Storm Surge Protection Systems
Contemporary studies conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimate probability distributions of flooding on the interior of ring levee systems by estimating surge exceedances at points along levee system boundaries, calculating overtopping volumes generated by this surface, then passing the resulting volumes of water through a drainage model to calculate interior flood depths. This approach may not accurately represent the exceedance probability of flood depths within the system interior; a storm producing 100‐year surge at one point is unlikely to simultaneously produce 100‐year surge levels everywhere around the system exterior. A conceptually preferred approach estimates surge and waves associated with a large set of storms. Each storm is run through the interior model separately, and the resulting flood depths are weighted by a parameterized likelihood of each synthetic storm. This results in an empirical distribution of flood depths accounting for geospatial variation in any individual storm's characteristics. This method can also better account for the probability of levee breaches or other system failures. The two methods can produce different estimates of flood depth exceedances and damage when applied to storm surge flooding in coastal Louisiana. Even differences in flood depth exceedances of less than 0.2 m can still produce large differences in projected damage. This article identifies and discusses differences in estimated flood depths and damage produced by each method within multiple Louisiana protection systems. The novel coupled dynamics approach represents a step toward enabling risk‐based design standards.

Mapping Socioeconomic Exposure for Flood Risk Assessment in Italy
Detailed spatial representation of socioeconomic exposure and the related vulnerability to natural hazards has the potential to improve the quality and reliability of risk assessment outputs. We apply a spatially weighted dasymetric approach based on multiple ancillary data to downscale important socioeconomic variables and produce a grid data set for Italy that contains multilayered information about physical exposure, population, gross domestic product, and social vulnerability. We test the performances of our dasymetric approach compared to other spatial interpolation methods. Next, we combine the grid data set with flood hazard estimates to exemplify an application for the purpose of risk assessment.

March 2019

Media Disaster Reporting Effects on Public Risk Perception and Response to Escalating Tornado Warnings: A Natural Experiment
Previous research has evaluated public risk perception and response to a natural hazards in various settings; however, most of these studies were conducted either with a single scenario or after a natural disaster struck. To better understand the dynamic relationships among affect, risk perception, and behavioral intentions related to natural disasters, the current study implements a simulation scenario with escalating weather intensity, and includes a natural experiment allowing comparison of public response before and after a severe tornado event with extensive coverage by the national media. The current study also manipulated the display of warning information, and investigated whether the warning system display format influences public response. Results indicate that (1) affect, risk perception, and behavioral intention escalated as weather conditions deteriorated, (2) responses at previous stages predicted responses at subsequent stages of storm progression, and (3) negative affect predicted risk perception. Moreover, risk perception and behavioral intention were heightened after exposure to the media coverage of an actual tornado disaster. However, the display format manipulation did not influence behavioral responses. The current study provides insight regarding public perception of predisaster warnings and the influence of exposure to media coverage of an actual disaster event.

A Data‐Driven Approach to Assessing Supply Inadequacy Risks Due to Climate‐Induced Shifts in Electricity Demand
The U.S. electric power system is increasingly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of extreme climate events. Supply inadequacy risk can result from climate‐induced shifts in electricity demand and/or damaged physical assets due to hydro‐meteorological hazards and climate change. In this article, we focus on the risks associated with the unanticipated climate‐induced demand shifts and propose a data‐driven approach to identify risk factors that render the electricity sector vulnerable in the face of future climate variability and change. More specifically, we have leveraged advanced supervised learning theory to identify the key predictors of climate‐sensitive demand in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. Our analysis indicates that variations in mean dew point temperature is the common major risk factor across all the three sectors. We have also conducted a statistical sensitivity analysis to assess the variability in the projected demand as a function of the key climate risk factor. We then propose the use of scenario‐based heat maps as a tool to communicate the inadequacy risks to stakeholders and decisionmakers. While we use the state of Ohio as a case study, our proposed approach is equally applicable to all other states.

The Impact of Portfolio Location Uncertainty on Probabilistic Seismic Risk Analysis
Probabilistic seismic risk analysis is a well‐established method in the insurance industry for modeling portfolio losses from earthquake events. In this context, precise exposure locations are often unknown. However, so far, location uncertainty has not been in the focus of a large amount of research. In this article, we propose a novel framework for treatment of location uncertainty. As a case study, a large number of synthetic portfolios resembling typical real‐world cases were created. We investigate the effect of portfolio characteristics such as value distribution, portfolio size, or proportion of risk items with unknown coordinates on the variability of loss frequency estimations. The results indicate that due to loss aggregation effects and spatial hazard variability, location uncertainty in isolation and in conjunction with ground motion uncertainty can induce significant variability to probabilistic loss results, especially for portfolios with a small number of risks. After quantifying its effect, we conclude that location uncertainty should not be neglected when assessing probabilistic seismic risk, but should be treated stochastically and the resulting variability should be visualized and interpreted carefully.

February 2019

Understanding Cumulative Risk Perception from Judgments and Choices: An Application to Flood Risks
Catastrophic events, such as floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis, are rare, yet the cumulative risk of each event occurring at least once over an extended time period can be substantial. In this work, we assess the perception of cumulative flood risks, how those perceptions affect the choice of insurance, and whether perceptions and choices are influenced by cumulative risk information. We find that participants' cumulative risk judgments are well represented by a bimodal distribution, with a group that severely underestimates the risk and a group that moderately overestimates it. Individuals who underestimate cumulative risks make more risk‐seeking choices compared to those who overestimate cumulative risks. Providing explicit cumulative risk information for relevant time periods, as opposed to annual probabilities, is an inexpensive and effective way to improve both the perception of cumulative risk and the choices people make to protect against that risk.

January 2019

A Probabilistic Framework for Risk Analysis of Widespread Flood Events: A Proof‐of‐Concept Study
This article presents a flood risk analysis model that considers the spatially heterogeneous nature of flood events. The basic concept of this approach is to generate a large sample of flood events that can be regarded as temporal extrapolation of flood events. These are combined with cumulative flood impact indicators, such as building damages, to finally derive time series of damages for risk estimation. Therefore, a multivariate modeling procedure that is able to take into account the spatial characteristics of flooding, the regionalization method top‐kriging, and three different impact indicators are combined in a model chain. Eventually, the expected annual flood impact (e.g., expected annual damages) and the flood impact associated with a low probability of occurrence are determined for a study area. The risk model has the potential to augment the understanding of flood risk in a region and thereby contribute to enhanced risk management of, for example, risk analysts and policymakers or insurance companies. The modeling framework was successfully applied in a proof‐of‐concept exercise in Vorarlberg (Austria). The results of the case study show that risk analysis has to be based on spatially heterogeneous flood events in order to estimate flood risk adequately.

Toward Probabilistic Prediction of Flash Flood Human Impacts
This article focuses on conceptual and methodological developments allowing the integration of physical and social dynamics leading to model forecasts of circumstance‐specific human losses during a flash flood. To reach this objective, a random forest classifier is applied to assess the likelihood of fatality occurrence for a given circumstance as a function of representative indicators. Here, vehicle‐related circumstance is chosen as the literature indicates that most fatalities from flash flooding fall in this category. A database of flash flood events, with and without human losses from 2001 to 2011 in the United States, is supplemented with other variables describing the storm event, the spatial distribution of the sensitive characteristics of the exposed population, and built environment at the county level. The catastrophic flash floods of May 2015 in the states of Texas and Oklahoma are used as a case study to map the dynamics of the estimated probabilistic human risk on a daily scale. The results indicate the importance of time‐ and space‐dependent human vulnerability and risk assessment for short‐fuse flood events. The need for more systematic human impact data collection is also highlighted to advance impact‐based predictive models for flash flood casualties using machine‐learning approaches in the future.

Spatial Vulnerability of Network Systems under Spatially Local Hazards
A hazard is often spatially local in a network system, but its impact can spread out through network topology and become global. To qualitatively and quantitatively assess the impact of spatially local hazards on network systems, this article develops a new spatial vulnerability model by taking into account hazard location, area covered by hazard, and impact of hazard (including direct impact and indirect impact), and proposes an absolute spatial vulnerability index (ASVI) and a relative spatial vulnerability index (RSVI). The relationship between the new model and some relevant traditional network properties is also analyzed. A case study on the spatial vulnerability of the Chinese civil aviation network system is conducted to demonstrate the effectiveness of the model, and another case study on the Beijing subway network system to verify its relationship with traditional network properties.

Critical Infrastructure Vulnerability to Spatially Localized Failures with Applications to Chinese Railway System
This article studies a general type of initiating events in critical infrastructures, called spatially localized failures (SLFs), which are defined as the failure of a set of infrastructure components distributed in a spatially localized area due to damage sustained, while other components outside the area do not directly fail. These failures can be regarded as a special type of intentional attack, such as bomb or explosive assault, or a generalized modeling of the impact of localized natural hazards on large‐scale systems. This article introduces three SLFs models: node centered SLFs, district‐based SLFs, and circle‐shaped SLFs, and proposes a SLFs‐induced vulnerability analysis method from three aspects: identification of critical locations, comparisons of infrastructure vulnerability to random failures, topologically localized failures and SLFs, and quantification of infrastructure information value. The proposed SLFs‐induced vulnerability analysis method is finally applied to the Chinese railway system and can be also easily adapted to analyze other critical infrastructures for valuable protection suggestions.

Spatial Risk Analysis of Power Systems Resilience During Extreme Events
The increased frequency of extreme events in recent years highlights the emerging need for the development of methods that could contribute to the mitigation of the impact of such events on critical infrastructures, as well as boost their resilience against them. This article proposes an online spatial risk analysis capable of providing an indication of the evolving risk of power systems regions subject to extreme events. A Severity Risk Index (SRI) with the support of real‐time monitoring assesses the impact of the extreme events on the power system resilience, with application to the effect of windstorms on transmission networks. The index considers the spatial and temporal evolution of the extreme event, system operating conditions, and the degraded system performance during the event. SRIis based on probabilistic risk by condensing the probability and impact of possible failure scenarios while the event is spatially moving across a power system. Due to the large number of possible failures during an extreme event, a scenario generation and reduction algorithm is applied in order to reduce the computation time. SRIprovides the operator with a probabilistic assessment that could lead to effective resilience‐based decisions for risk mitigation. The IEEE 24‐bus Reliability Test System has been used to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed online risk analysis, which was embedded in a sequential Monte Carlo simulation for capturing the spatiotemporal effects of extreme events and evaluating the effectiveness of the proposed method.

Click here for abstracts from 2018.
Click here for abstracts from 2017.