The domain of natural hazards involves the understanding of the mechanisms behind these hazards, in order to model the complete source-pathway-receptor chain over space and time. It will be impossible to prevent natural hazards, but we can try to reduce the impact of natural hazards as much as possible, by building strong flood defences, faster urban discharge of excessive rain water, building earthquake resistant houses, organising better fire emergency management in forests during hot summers, imposing regulations for not building in landslide prone areas, preventing cascading effects to industrial hazards (Natech events), etc. However, since the 1960s, economic losses from natural disasters on a global scale have more than tripled. On the one hand caused by the increasing population over the world, on the other hand climate change. The question is now, how we can stop the increase of economic losses and loss of human life due to these natural hazards?
Technical solutions alone are clearly not sufficient. The domain needs multi-faceted contributions from socio-technical experts from TU Delft, University Leiden and Erasmus University Rotterdam:
- How should we quantify and assess the risks of floods from sea, rivers and canals, heavy rainfall, storm, hail, ice storms, heat waves, extreme cold, drought and wildfires? Domain knowledge from statistics, economy, civil engineering, actuarial sciences and geography may bring opportunities here.
- How can we stimulate the local population to take small-scale local measures against natural hazards, for instance heavy rainfall? Domain knowledge from sociology, architecture, civil engineering and geography may bring opportunities here.
- How can the insurance industry contribute here, realizing that their agenda is to gain more income, thus more risks? Domain knowledge from economy, policy analysis, and legal science may bring opportunities here.
- Can we create a living lab of our province for experimenting with socio-technical solutions against the above natural hazards? Domain knowledge from information sciences, architecture, civil engineering and geography may bring opportunities here.
- Is there a black swan which we did oversee in the domain of natural hazards? Domain knowledge from philosophy, civil engineering and geography may bring opportunities here.
- How can we improve regulation and policy-making around protection measures against natural hazards? More public-private collaboration? Frequency of inspection? What is an acceptable risk-profile for natural hazards? Domain knowledge from policy analysis, safety scientists, civil engineering and legal sciences may bring opportunities here.
- Which innovations in social media, space – and drone technology are needed to better anticipate on natural hazards? Domain knowledge from sociology, aerospace engineering, robotics and geography may bring opportunities here.
- To which risk level should we prepare our fire brigades and ministry of defence to dealing with natural hazards? How to train them in large-scale exercises? Use of augmented reality? Public participation in dealing with natural hazards? Domain knowledge from informatics, safety scientists, civil engineering and policy analysis may bring opportunities here.
- How can we reduce the likelihood of physical, chemical, or cyber terrorist attacks, sabotages and intrusions to flood defences? How can we determine gaps in security and determine whether and where measures should be placed, such as sensors, cameras, walls, barriers, checkpoint stations? Domain knowledge from risk – and security analysists, risk – and crisis communication experts may bring opportunities here.