Human agency in disaster planning: a systems approach
Risk Analysis: an international journal
Wiley for Society for Risk Analysis
© 2018 The Authors Risk Analysis published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Society for Risk Analysis. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Current approaches to risk management place insufficient emphasis on the system knowledge available to the assessor, particularly in respect of the dynamic behaviour of the system under threat, the role of human agents and the knowledge availability to those agents. In this paper, we address the second of these issues. We are concerned with a class of systems containing human agents playing a variety of roles as significant system elements - as decision makers, cognitive agents or implementers. i.e. Human Activity Systems (Checkland, 1999). Within this family of HASs we focus upon safety and mission critical systems, referring to this sub-class as critical human activity systems or CHASs. Identification of the role and contribution of these human elements to a system is a nontrivial problem whether in an engineering context, or, as is the case here, in a wider social and public context. Frequently they are treated as standing apart from the system in design or policy terms. Regardless of the process of policy definition followed, analysis of the risk and threats to such a CHAS requires a holistic approach, since the effect of undesirable, uninformed or erroneous actions on the part of the human elements is both potentially significant to the system output and inextricably bound together with the non-human elements of the system. We present a procedure for identifying the potential threats and risks emerging from the role(s) and activity of those human agents, using the 2014 flooding in SW England and the Thames Valley as a contemporary example.
The project was partially supported the EU-CIRCLE (A pan-European framework for strengthening critical infrastructure resilience) project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant Agreement No 653824).
This is the final version of the article. Available from Wiley via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 38 (7), pp. 1422-1443