Articles | Volume 5, issue 3
29 Mar 2005
29 Mar 2005

Reconsidering the risk assessment concept:
Standardizing the impact description as a building block for vulnerability assessment

K. Hollenstein

Abstract. Risk assessments for natural hazards are becoming more widely used and accepted. Using an extended definition of risk, it becomes obvious that performant procedures for vulnerability assessments are vital for the success of the risk concept. However, there are large gaps in knowledge about vulnerability. To alleviate the situation, a conceptual extension of the scope of existing and new models is suggested. The basis of the suggested concept is a stadardization of the output of hazard assessments. This is achieved by defining states of the target objects that depend on the impact and at the same time affect the object's performance characteristics. The possible state variables can be related to a limited set of impact descriptors termed generic impact description interface. The concept suggests that both hazard and vulnerability assessment models are developed according to the specification of this interface, thus facilitating modularized risk assessments. Potential problems related to the application of the concept include acceptance issues and the lacking accuracy of transformation of outputs of existing models. Potential applications and simple examples for adapting existing models are briefly discussed.