A conceptual vulnerability and risk framework as outline to identify capabilities of remote sensing
Abstract. This study aims at creating a holistic conceptual approach systematizing the interrelation of (natural) hazards, vulnerability and risk. A general hierarchical risk meta-framework presents potentially affected components of a given system, such as its physical, demographic, social, economic, political or ecological spheres, depending on the particular hazard. Based on this general meta-framework, measurable indicators are specified for the system "urban area" as an example. This framework is used as an outline to identify the capabilities of remote sensing to contribute to the assessment of risk. Various indicators contributing to the outline utilizing diverse remote sensing data and methods are presented. Examples such as built-up density, main infrastructure or population distribution identify the capabilities of remote sensing within the holistic perspective of the framework. It is shown how indexing enables a multilayer analysis of the complex and small-scale urban landscape to take different types of spatial indicators into account to simulate concurrence. The result is an assessment of the spatial distribution of risks within an urban area in the case of an earthquake and its secondary threats, using an inductive method. The results show the principal capabilities of remote sensing to contribute to the identification of physical and demographic aspects of vulnerability, as well as provide indicators for the spatial distribution of natural hazards. Aspects of social, economic or political indicators represent limitations of remote sensing for an assessment complying with the holistic risk framework.