Expert of the Week   for  09 - 15 Mar 2015

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Emin Mentese

Disaster Risk Management Expert

Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Expertise:  Disaster risk assessment, social vulnerability analysis, GIS, risk mapping, decision support systems.

Emin Y. Menteşe is a Geomatic Engineer (MSc.) specialized in the field of GIS and has been working on disaster risk management field for 8 years involving in the fields of landslide risk assessment and meteorological early warning, geological mapping, earthquake risk assessment, social vulnerability analysis, site selection strategies for temporary shelter settlements and integration of GIS in disaster risk management procedures. Currently he is working on development of web based geo-scientific GIS of Istanbul; periodic update of earthquake risk assessment analyses and landslide risk assessment research. Meanwhile he is carrying out his PhD study in Istanbul Technical University on the relation of sustainable development and urban planning.

Disaster risk management (DRM) in megacities: challenges & opportunities

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QQuestion by Ms #skinder Tilahun

I am happy if I share some expirince on the vulnerability assessment in using of modern technology equipments and ne link with the global network
Thank you

Eskinder tilahun

Ms #skinder Tilahun Program Assistance for economoc stringthining | Wfp

APosted on 14 Mar 2015

Dear Eskinder,

I think it is better for this question to separate types of vulnerability. Because each of them (physical, social, economical, institutional) requires different approach. And actually I understand from your question that you ask about the use of technological instruments in use of physical part of the vulnerability (since other do not require such high-tech equipments) but I am not experienced in that field. On the other hand I can say that even in physical vulnerability assessment (for instance: where there is a need for specific machines to gather samples and analyze these samples' level of safety against earthquakes) a high level of technology is not required. Instead I would suggest to focus on statistical models that are used very efficiently to prioritize the strategies. The good part about them is that they are based on scientific literature and you can easily get information about how these analysis is carried out.

In addition, I believe that benefiting from literature will let you contact with global networks somehow since these models are created by people who are highly integrated with international community and once you get involved with these network both institutionally and scientifically the rest will come by itself. For instance you can check: where several international institutions have developed an index to assess risks in national level. Maybe this can give you an idea.

I hope my answer was helpful.


QQuestion by Ms Joel Abelinde

Risk mapping is generally a specialized and costly process, are there ways cities can minimise the cost without compromising the quality of data?

Ms Joel Abelinde Knowledge Management | EMI

APosted on 13 Mar 2015

Dear Joel, 

Thanks very much for your question.

I think you are absolutely right about your comment that risk mapping is a costly process. I think the starting point to minimize these costs is starting to use "open source" softwares and  cloud computing technology (in order to reduce the maintenance costs and provide accessibility from wherever and whenever you want).

However in megacities this is much harder because the quantity of data is so big that, it is not easy to handle efficiently. So what should we do? My answer would be "optimization". That's why we engineers are educated for...

We don't have to start mapping with 100% data coverage. This can never be achieved and I think it is not logic to pursue such a way. But critical point is to select the most dominant factors of risk in the place of interest (whether a city, a country or a region...) These factors can be selected based on literature reviews, expert opinions and stakeholder insights. Then we must put together the budget, time and priorities with these factors and establish a frame that defines our data acquisition process. 

After that we can establish a database format that is valid for all of these places of interest and hence we can compare their level of risk since they all rely on same data format. Even though this data is not sufficient (in ideal terms) the results will give us an analytical lead on the risk texture. Because we used the most dominant factors of risk. Even if we have 50% data coverage; the results wouldn't change that much if we had 100%. But the financial gap between 50% and 100% is definitely  huge. I believe that composite indices are very suitable for this process that can help us gather different type of data together and unify them. 

Lastly I would like to mention about Global Earthquake Model (GEM), that is a very efficient tool that let us analyze and map the earthquake risks. I find the approach in GEM very innovative and useful for every stakeholder in DRM process. It is an open source tool that can help us reduce risk mapping costs significantly.

QQuestion by Dr Hooman Motamed

There are a number of sophisticated commercial and opensource catastrophe models in the financial services market. To what extent do you think that these models could be used in the process of disaster risk management? Has there been any success story?

Dr Hooman Motamed Natural Catastrophe Analyst | SCOR - UK
United Kingdom

APosted on 13 Mar 2015

Dear Hooman,

Thanks for your questions.

As you mention there are various types of catastrophe models in financial market but I think they are useful not only for finance market, but in decision making level also: especially in governmental bodies. I believe that they must rely on such models because these models enable them to understand the level and content of risk they must deal with. Even though these models include significant amount of uncertainty, they can give invaluable information about the distribution of losses, secondary results of these losses  and cascading effects due to a disaster. Thus catastrophe models (I guess we can also call them "risk assessment models") play an important role in DRM, because they give us the first information about the risk and its future. This information can easily be used as a decision support mechanism.

I can't say anything exactly about a "success story" since it's quite relative. But in Turkey there is an insurance mechanism called "Turkish Catastrophe Insurance Pool-TCIP" which uses a catastrophe model in the background and in addition it is supported with concrete regulations so that people are forced and/or promoted to insure their homes against earthquakes. This pool is managed in coordination with central government and private banking companies which is a nice example of PPP in DRM process. In that way risks are transferred to insurance pool and people have something to rely on (at least in financial terms) if they are struck by a disaster.

QQuestion by Ms Nuket Ipek CETIN

Dear Mr. Mentese,
As it is known , Turkey had a devastating earthquake disaster in 1999 which caused serious economic, social and physical damages in Marmara Region and many scientists have given warnings about the prospective Istanbul earthquake.Therefore, do you think Istanbul is resilient for this disaster or not?

Ms Nuket Ipek CETIN Research Asisstant | Gebze Technical University

APosted on 13 Mar 2015

Dear Ms. Cetin,

Thanks for this difficult question. As you point out, we had to experience two major earthquakes in 1999 with extensive results and we also know that there is a big possibility of occurrence of a similar earthquake in the region in next 50 years.

Despite knowing these facts I can't say that Istanbul as a megacity seems resilient enough against such a devastating earthquake. Because most of the time there is a big gap between   "knowing" and "acting", and in megacities the gap is larger. Because although we know the extent of the prospective earthquake is enormous and the content of it is terrifying; to establish a robust DRR framework and implement its actions are quite difficult as well.

As you may also agree, in megacities the problems are not created in one day (they have a deep history), they are complex (related with different type of and several stakeholders) and lastly they are somehow interrelated with each other.

So if it is that hard to make a megacity "resilient" how can we achieve this?  I think the nature of this problem serves its solution as well. As an overview; first we must accept that we have to involve all stakeholders in DRR in every step of its implementation especially community (social factors). Thus we can establish a ground for our strategies and increase the acceptability of our actions. We must increase the quality of our database (one can't have correct ideas without having correct information). We must develop our DRR policies in relation with development plans and moreover we must engage DRR approach as an integral parameter in development strategies. The list can go longer but I believe that, these three are basics for development of a resilient megacity.

In Istanbul case, there are various achievements about DRR (see the link of my institution ), but the problems grow faster than solutions. That is because we do not provide a basis for a multi-stakeholder process, we do not have correct data (especially in social side: we don't know what people want or think about the resilience of their city) and our DRR strategies are mostly separate from each other and they do not address to a comprehensive development plan.

As a result we are trying hard to reduce disaster risks but unfortunately we are not doing it efficiently and wisely enough.