Challenges for Decision Support in Urban Disaster Scenarios

Challenges for Decision Support in Urban Disaster Scenarios

Sergio F. Ochoa (Universidad de Chile, Chile) and José A. Pino (Universidad de Chile, Chile)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-843-7.ch008
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Abstract

An urgent challenge confronting society today is the vulnerability of urban areas to “eXtreme” Events (XEs) (Mileti, 1999; CWR, 2002; Godschalk, 2003). These hazardous situations include natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods, as well as accidental and intentional disasters such as fires and terrorist attacks. At the global level, a total of 608 million people were affected by these disasters in 2002, out of which 24,500 died (IFRC, 2003). The economic damages to property and the environment were estimated at $27 billion dollars (IFRC, 2003). From January to October 2005, the number of people killed in disasters globally was estimated at 97,490 and the economical losses were approximately U.S. $159 billion (WHO, 2006). These significant human and economic costs emphasize the urgent need to reduce the vulnerability of urban areas to XEs (Mileti, 1999; CWR, 2002; Godschalk, 2003), improve the impact of relief team actions in these situations (NRC, 1999; NSTC, 2003), and the decision making process (Stewart, 2002; Mendonca, 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Critical Response: This process involves multiple organizations and must be executed within the first 12 hours after the event occurrence.

Disaster Relief: The disaster relief process is composed of three phases: (a) the preparedness of first response plans for disasters, (b) the response process to reduce the impact of extreme events, and (c) the recovery of the affected areas.

First Responders: First responders are typically firefighters, police officers, and medical personnel who initially work mitigating an extreme event.

Local Emergency Decision Making: The local decision making (or improvisation) is typical of large relief efforts and it is mainly carried out in the work field.

Extreme Events: Hazardous situations including natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods, as well as accidental and intentional disasters such as fires and terrorist attacks.

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