Using the Co-Production of Knowledge for Developing Realistic Natural Disaster Scenarios for Small-to-Medium Scale Emergency Management Exercises

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Tom Robinson1, Thomas M Wilson1, Timothy R Davies1, Caroline Orchiston2 and James Thompson3, (1)University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, (2)University of Otago, Department of Tourism, Dunedin, New Zealand, (3)Canterbury Civil Defence and Emergency Management, Christchurch, New Zealand
Disaster scenarios for Emergency Management (EM) exercises are a widely-used and effective tool for communicating hazard information to policy makers, EM personnel, lifelines operators and communities in general. It is crucial that the scenarios are as realistic as possible. Major disasters however, contain a series of cascading consequences, both environmental and social, which are difficult to model. Consequently, only recently have large-scale exercises included such processes; incorporating these in small- and medium-scale scenarios has yet to be attempted. This study details work undertaken in a recent medium-scale earthquake exercise in New Zealand to introduce such cascading processes into the disaster scenario. Given limited time, data, and funding, we show that the co-production of knowledge between natural disaster scientists, EM personnel, and governance and lifelines organisations can yield detailed, realistic scenarios.

Using the co-production process, scenario development was able to identify where the pre-exercise state of knowledge was insufficient. This enabled a focussed research response driven by end-user needs. This found that in general, seismic hazard (ground shaking) and its likely impacts were well known and understood by all parties. However, subsequent landsliding and associated effects were poorly known and understood and their potential impacts unconsidered. Scenario development therefore focussed primarily on understanding these processes and their potential effects. This resulted in cascading hazards being included in a medium-scale NZ exercise for the first time. Further, all participants were able to focus on the potential impacts on their specific sectors, increasing the level of knowledge of cascading processes across all parties. Using group based discussions throughout the design process allowed a detailed scenario to be created, fostered stronger inter-disciplinary relationships, and identified areas for further research. Consequently, further detailed research has begun specifically into the impacts from secondary effects in an effort to further increase resilience to future events.