Expect the unexpected: how to measure and improve a city’s resilience

By Nick Mead

In today’s cities, a failure of any sort can be ‘on the scale of major natural disasters’. So a new online tool hopes to help urban leaders understand the full extent of their vulnerabilities – and make better decisions for the future

“In Concepción we had two earthquakes: the 8.8 one and the social earthquake – looting, arson … I think the last one affected our soul most violently,” said Álvaro Ortiz Vera, the mayor of Concepción, a coastal city in Chile hit by a major quake in February 2010.

While traditional disaster risk management meant the city was well prepared in terms of strict building codes, limiting damage and loss of life, what was not foreseen was the total breakdown of communications networks. With critical services like water, electricity and sewerage networks severely disrupted, officials were unable to communicate with each other, coordinate help from the government in Santiago or keep the public up-to-date with what was happening. Reports of food shortages and theft escalated into looting and panic, until the military were brought in to restore order.

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Read more here:: The Guardian – Global Development