Natural disasters

Track: BCSSS Paper session

Vulnerability and resilience



Jan Skrbek Last Mile – the Neglected Element of Early Warning Systems
Tianjie Lei, Jianjun Wu, Qianfeng Wang, Changliang Shao, Hongkui Zhou, Xiaohan Li, Guangpo Geng, Leizhen Liu, Xiangdong Sun and Liangliang Zhang Drought and carbon cycling of grassland ecosystems under global change: a review
Kunru Yan Bayesian analysis of subjectively perceived risks of informational technology


Natural disasters seemingly have become increasingly more frequent and devastating during the last decades, endangering a growing number of people and areas in various ways. Disasters results from unpredictable events which bring a system into an unacceptable state, from which the system has difficulties to recover on its own. The concepts of resilience and vulnerability address the fundamental unpredictability of disasters. Rather, than seeking optimal solutions, these concepts emphasize the need to enable the adaptability and transformability of systems.

Despite diverging definitions, resilience is usually understood as the ability of a system to withstand disasters and to remain or re-transform in an acceptable state on its own. The overlapping, albeit diverging concept of vulnerability is usually defined as a function of exposure (towards a disaster), sensitivity (towards a disaster, e.g. the number of people, businesses affected) and adaptive capacity (as the ability of a system to react on the effects of a disaster).

The analysis of a system’s vulnerabilities in relation to potential hazards is essential both for establishing resilience and for preventing/mitigating potential disasters. It allows to plan/execute emergency reactions to and restoration after a disaster and to plan future countermeasures, thus strengthening the resilience of a system. This analysis must include chains of potential secondary hazards (‘domino effect’) triggered by the primary hazard and must include all levels of stakeholders from individual victims to the society at large.

Today’s information and communication technologies (ICT) can support and improve above activities, sometimes in ways not anticipated before due to speedy aggregation and presentation of data and information supported by effective communications and co-ordination of various organizations and stakeholders involved, offering improved systemic interpretation, assessment and decision making in disaster situations. At the same time the ICT-systems themselves are an added vulnerability in our modern society.


Gerhard Chroust, Institute for Telecooperation, Johannes Kepler University Linz
Marianne Penker, Institute for Sustainable Economic Development, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna