The Dynamics of Risk: Changing Technologies and Collective Action in Seismic Events

The Dynamics of Risk: Changing Technologies and Collective Action in Seismic Events

by Louise K. Comfort


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Earthquakes are a huge global threat. In thirty-six countries, severe seismic risks threaten populations and their increasingly interdependent systems of transportation, communication, energy, and finance. In this important book, Louise Comfort provides an unprecedented examination of how twelve communities in nine countries responded to destructive earthquakes between 1999 and 2015. And many of the book’s lessons can also be applied to other large-scale risks.

The Dynamics of Risk sets the global problem of seismic risk in the framework of complex adaptive systems to explore how the consequences of such events ripple across jurisdictions, communities, and organizations in complex societies, triggering unexpected alliances but also exposing social, economic, and legal gaps. The book assesses how the networks of organizations involved in response and recovery adapted and acted collectively after the twelve earthquakes it examines. It describes how advances in information technology enabled some communities to anticipate seismic risk better and to manage response and recovery operations more effectively, decreasing losses. Finally, the book shows why investing substantively in global information infrastructure would create shared awareness of seismic risk and make postdisaster relief more effective and less expensive.

The result is a landmark study of how to improve the way we prepare for and respond to earthquakes and other disasters in our ever-more-complex world.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691165370
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 06/25/2019
Series: Princeton Studies in Complexity , #34
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 2.40(w) x 4.20(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Louise K. Comfort is professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and former director of the Center for Disaster Management at the University of Pittsburgh. Her previous books include Shared Risk: Complex Systems in Seismic Response.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"By examining how some countries develop earthquake modeling systems that work while others don’t, this book illuminates how coherence and resilience are designed."—Jane E. Fountain, University of Massachusetts Amherst

“The culmination of years of careful field and empirical analytical work, this is an important book on a timely and significant issue of public policy.”—Todd R. LaPorte, professor emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

“The Dynamics of Risk is an excellent account of seismic risk from a complex systems perspective. The book presents a comprehensive theoretical framework that embeds myriad case studies that reveal how a lack of preparedness and adaptability hindered responses. A magnificent work of scholarship demonstrating the value of complex systems to policy.”—Scott E. Page, University of Michigan

"Analyzing the ability of response systems to adapt to the dynamics of major recent earthquakes, this book produces fundamental new knowledge and insights for the development of resilient societies."Friedemann Wenzel, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany

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