Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Planning for extreme events by understanding risk


Terrorist attacks like those on Sept. 11, large-scale industrial accidents like Three Mile Island, hurricanes like Andrew, or earthquakes like the one in Northridge, Calif., that killed 60 people--these are all what economists call low probability, high consequence events. Making economic decisions about how to prepare for such "extreme events" is a difficult process. Under what circumstances are the benefits of strengthening a building against explosions or earthquakes worth the costs? A new study sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offers strategies for finding answers to such questions.

Conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, the study* found that preparing for extreme events requires an understanding of risk "interdependencies." A security plan, for example, is only as strong as its weakest link. It also requires cooperation between public and private organizations because individuals and organizations often don’t take actions to mitigate low probability risks unless there are incentives to do so.

Ultimately, the study authors concluded that dealing effectively with extreme events depends on a complex interplay between risk assessment, perception and management. Risk assessment for a power grid in Ohio needs to include possible negative effects from domino-like failures throughout the northeastern United States and Canada. People perceive risk more clearly when they understand its cumulative effects. More people will wear seatbelts, for instance, if told they have a 33 percent chance of an accident over a 50-year lifetime of driving than if they know there is 0.00001 percent chance for each trip. And risk management is more likely if the economics are attractive. A $1,500 loan to prevent flood damage is more affordable if payments are divided over the life of a 20-year mortgage and if insurance premiums drop as a result of the improvements.

John Blair | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>