Disaster Management Manual
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Coordination in disaster situations

The coordination pyramid including road related organizations and non-road related organizations is shown in Figure Within the road-related organizations, efforts have been made for communication and coordination. Coordination is a fundamental process in disaster management and should be enhanced within road-related organizations in order to mitigate further damages due to the disaster.

According to the report regarding the 1995 Northridge earthquake in USA, an advanced approach coordination center was established shortly after the earthquake. This center controls coordinative actions under the power of the state government.

Other advanced approaches to improve coordination have been introduced by Japan. According to these, liaison engineers and task-force engineers are sent to the disaster area in order to promote coordinated restoration actions between national and local governments. This system not only promotes coordinated action but also supports engineering issues to be solved in disasters.

The most advanced preparedness actions are being introduced in Japan. According to the lessons derived from the 2011 East Japan Earthquake, some road authorities are trying to implement mutual cooperative action not only within road related organizations but also with non-road related organizations. This involves making agreements in advance and periodical disaster exercises and drills are carried out among the agreement organizations. The agreements are usually made between national and local governments, road authorities, construction contractors, and consultant companies. The report of the 2011 East Japan earthquake outlines that quick inspection and restoration work could be initiated because of these mutual agreements. Mutual agreements with non-road related organizations such as mass media and NPOs are needed as preparedness actions for future events.

ITS technologies and management practices

Currently, ITS technology is highly developed and it is being applied to improve traffic and safety management. Risk and disaster management are no exception.

An advanced application in the field of disaster management was reported in 2013 in Australia. The flood prediction and road closure possibility information were provided by VMS. The driver survey revealed that information dissemination using ITS technology was very effective for route selection. The continuous challenge for application of ITS technology in risk and disaster management is a continuous challenge and further research is needed in this field.

Case studies from the international survey that identify some good system developments to improve coordination and use of ITS technologies are shown in Table

New concept for managing extreme disasters

According to the lessons derived from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident, a new concept for managing disasters in nuclear engineering was proposed.

The report indicated that the notable characteristics of the nuclear power plant event, which occurred because of the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake, were that: a) a very wide area was affected, and b) the disaster was compounded by a huge tsunami; therefore, no disaster assistance could be expected from the wider area which was also affected.

The report also indicated that the fatal event at the nuclear power plant was actually a series of separate serious events which occurred in a chain manner. This rendered the nature of the risk time-dependent. As addressing the situation involved both human actions and time-variable hazards, the most appropriate actions to be taken did not remain the same as time progressed to prevent the worst scenario for each elemental risk.

From the aforementioned features, Takada proposed the risk concept be extended so as to incorporate simultaneous failures and time-dependency in risk evolution. For this, the new concept “Safety Burst” was proposed in the report as follows:

Safety burst indicates the physical state that after either a single failure of a part or simultaneous failure of portions of a big complex engineering system with possible large failure consequence is initiated, further damage is propagating and extending and finally the expected performance of the system becomes out of control.

Many key words were introduced for improving management in two major Safety Burst situations -chain reaction-type situations and simultaneous-type failures as shown in Figure

Figure Key Words Introduced in Chain-Reaction and Simultaneous Type of Disasters

Among these key words, the ones indicated below and are considered very important.

  • Robust: “The system should be basically indifferent to minor disturbances. The system should be designed so as not to have any relative weak points. Currently, quantitative evaluation of the system is difficult but will be essential in the future.”
  • Self-sustained: “Modern engineering system relies greatly on social infrastructure such as energy supply, data communication, and so on. The component systems relate to each other; hence a large number of systems will lose function if a small related system collapse. In order to prevent interrelated system failure, the system should be independent from other systems. We call such resistant system as self-sustained system.”
  • Dynamic: Management of disasters should be under the control of the decision-making process or of the risk management process in the information environment by considering the sequential time evolution of the damaged system and while assessing the influence incurred due to the damage.”
Reference sources

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