Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management

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Volume 1 Issue 4 (December 1993), Pages 183-245

Extending Geographic Information Systems for Risk Analysis and Management (pages 203-206)

A new kind of Geographic Information System (GIS) and computer support is required for risk analysis and management. Assessment of risk is emerging as important in many areas of planning, engineering, environmental and emergency management. Existing commercial GISs, provide some useful basic means of organizing and displaying spatial information, yet they are particularly inadequate for generating risk simulations – a task essential for risk management. The central problem is the commercial GIS has limited facilities to deal with uncertainty, modelling and simulation. The requirements for GIS risk modelling, functionality, access and design considerations are reviewed.


Existing GIS has not been developed to work with uncertainty yet uncertainty is inherent in risk applications. Current risk analysis applications which stem from a scientific expert view lead to dispute and lack of confidence amongst policy makers and the public. It is essential that a new kind of GIS be developed to facilitate consensus building in all aspects of risk assessment and management. The new system (Risk GIS) should ‘know about’ the appropriate environmental information and process sources, should have a tool set to access, store and communicate information between diverse interest areas and should support easy development of alternate views of the possible evolution of classes of risk or specific risks and, secondly, scenarios of risk evolution and mitigation based upon documented assumptions and expressions of uncertainty. Without doubt this is a significant challenge to the GIS industry and, particularly, to risk research scientists who wish to develop a suitable integrated Risk GIS.

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