Building resilience in the UK water sector: a systems based approach to emergency management
Date: 16 December 2019
University of Exeter
PhD in Engineering
The ability to achieve resilience to extreme events requires a shift away from the traditional risk management approach and a progression towards understanding resilience as a dynamic process operating within a complex socio-ecological-technical emergency management system. Taking a systems based approach this research applied quantitative ...
The ability to achieve resilience to extreme events requires a shift away from the traditional risk management approach and a progression towards understanding resilience as a dynamic process operating within a complex socio-ecological-technical emergency management system. Taking a systems based approach this research applied quantitative and qualitative methods to explore how resilience to water supply failure is achieved within the UK emergency management system. This was supported through the application of the Safe and SuRe intervention framework. Semi-structured interviews with emergency management professionals revealed that the Civil Contingencies Act, 2004 is not aligned with current operational practices to enable effective collaboration between Category 1 and Category 2 responders. This is further constrained by a lack of government funding and a lack of understanding with regard to organisational culture and how this influences the operational delivery of multi-agency emergency response. The attitudes and perceptions of individuals to water supply failure was examined through individual householder questionnaires and the analysis of Facebook comments during the ‘Beast from the East’. Individuals expressed a high level of confidence in the ability of Water Service Provider’s to provide a reliable, continuous and safe supply of water. While the majority of individuals do not prepare for a failure of the water supply they actively respond during an incident to achieve resilience by purchasing water from the supermarkets, staying with relatives or attending water distribution stations. However, the ability to achieve resilience requires the provision of accurate, timely and consistent information from the Water Service Providers. Resilience to emergencies can also be strengthened at the local level through the development of collaborative working partnerships. The integration of community groups within the emergency management system enables resilience through the sharing and exchange of information to understand capabilities available for effective emergency response. This research demonstrates how the application of a systems based approach enables a greater understanding of the complex interdependencies between different parts of the emergency management system. These were explored and developed into recommendations identifying where resilient based strategies and interventions are required at the government, inter-organisational and community level.
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