Title: Protection from extreme events: using a socio-technological approach to evaluate policy options

Authors: Richard G. Little, Elise A. Weaver

Addresses: University of Southern California, The Keston Institute for Infrastructure, 331 D. Lewis Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA. ' Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Department of Social Science and Policy Studies, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609, USA

Abstract: Effective ways to address the vulnerabilities of urban areas to terrorism and other hazards have been subject to considerable discussion, debate and reflexive defensive measures. However, a coherent strategy for protecting public spaces while maintaining access to them has yet to emerge. Current approaches have pitted |security| against |openness,| neglecting critical issues, such as what constitutes publicly-valued levels of protection, a prudent government response, and sustainable public expenditures. Although a desire for drastic measures is certainly understandable, it is not based on a true assessment of risk, nor will it lead to an effective, let alone cost effective, approach to the threats of hazards and urban terrorism. This paper will discuss three tools from the social and policy sciences that can be used to develop balanced and prioritised approaches to physical security. It will demonstrate that these tools also can be applied to planning for extreme natural events.

Keywords: physical security; extreme events; social judgment theory; risk management; socio-technological approach; policy evaluation; policy options; vulnerability; public spaces; protection; hazards; urban terrorism; planning; emergency management; disaster management; mass evacuation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEM.2005.008739

International Journal of Emergency Management, 2005 Vol.2 No.4, pp.263 - 274

Published online: 20 Jan 2006 *

Full-text access for editors Full-text access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article