Speaker Series #08 – Assessing Risk through Data-Driven Decision Making

May 2021

About the Session

The Speakers

Cities on the Frontline cover image.

Cities on the Frontline Speaker Series

#08 – Assessing Risk through Data-Driven Decision Making

When you think of data, do you think of people? Our two speakers in #08 session of Cities on the Frontline certainly do.

In this session, panelists highlight the importance of putting people and community at the heart of data driven strategies. The session dives deeply into how practitioners use state-of-the-art hazard monitoring to reduce risk through land-use mapping, zoning and urban design.

David Lallement, Professor at the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore and Head of Disaster Analytics Society Lab, presentation breaks down the relationship of hazards, exposure, vulnerability and risk. He discusses the limits of current risk assessment tools and paradigm shifts needed to better account for a more vulnerable world moving forward. For instance, to support urban risk reduction, cities must account for climate change and extreme “Black Swan” events. These are rare shocks that have a high probability to change a city’s development trajectory in an unprecedented and unpredictable way.

Dr. Lallement goes on to identify the different tools and methodologies used for scenario planning and to predict potential Black Swan events. These include a Counterfactual Thinking Framework and Consequence-driven Risk Analysis. He highlights the need to quantify and celebrate avoided disasters and how cities must prioritize equitable development.

Katia Tynan, Acting Chief Resilience Officer, City of Vancouver, echoes similar goals of prioritising equity in disaster-preparedness and discusses community-based resilience. Her presentation highlights the varying chronic stresses, acute shocks, and trends the coastal city faces. A key part of designing solutions is to take into account the most vulnerable and impacted groups. She shares examples as to why we must analyze the historic drivers of socioeconomic inequality and how this impacts vulnerability.

Tynan goes on to describe the tools used and comprehensive risk assessments the city has done on sea-level rise, flood risk and seismic activity.

The panel discussion concludes with a discussion on the importance of co-creating solutions with nieghborhood organisations, community participation and instilling hope in order to build resilient cities.

David Lallemant
Head of Disaster Analytics, Society Lab, Nanyang Technological University

“We have amazing tools to understand and manage risk, but these tools need a paradigm shift. These include accounting for climate change, rapid urbanization, long-horizon planning, including “Black Swan” events, celebrating avoided disasters & issues of equity.”

David Lallemants presentation

Katia Tynan
Lead Resilience Planner, Acting Chief Resilience Officer, City of Vancouver

“Disasters ultimately lay bare our deepest inequities and we’ve seen that play out in Vancouver over the course of COVID-19.”

Katia Tynans presentation

Watch full session here:

Black climate change thematic icon with blue circular background. Black built environment thematic icon with blue circular background. Black economy and finance thematic icon with blue circular background. Black equity thematic icon with blue circular background.

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