Academic journal article Cartography and Geographic Information Science

RiskCity and WebRiskCity: Data Collection, Display, and Dissemination in a Multi-Risk Training Package

Academic journal article Cartography and Geographic Information Science

RiskCity and WebRiskCity: Data Collection, Display, and Dissemination in a Multi-Risk Training Package

Article excerpt


One of the important components of disaster risk management is building capacity for hazard response and mitigation by training planners, engineers, and architects. Part of risk management is preparedness planning, which involves expertise in social, political, and earth sciences (Gaspar-Escribano et al. 2009). The planning has to be tailored to different degrees of understanding and interest for information about natural and antrophic risks. Clear language and ontology (representation of a set of concept and relationships between them) can help to avoid misunderstanding about risk assessment and provide an efficient level of preparedness (Lutz and Klein 2006; Moreno-Sanchez 2009).

Modular applications can be published, located, and dynamically shared across the web. The web environment provides a platform for sharing, analyzing, and collecting information. A WebGIS architecture is thus different from traditional GIS packages in that it offers an open, cooperative, scalable, reliable and extensible solution (Peisheng and Yang 1999). The results of multi-risk assessment studies are extremely complex; to have tools which can translate scientific activities to a broader audience is thus of great value (Rivas-Medina et al. 2009). GIS can combine different layers, while also providing tools for spatial analysis, and supporting complex activities at every step of risk assessment (see next chapter for details of training package). A user-friendly visualization instrument should however be used to facilitate interpretation, generation of basic knowledge, and representation of results, both to increase the purpose of training and to define practical risk management plans (Romang et al. 2009).


WebRiskCity Training Package


Worldwide, many organizations are involved in providing training in disaster risk assessment (ADPC 2005). Some organizations have focused attention on public safety and health, especially in developing countries, by introducing scientific research, technology transfer, and high-level training service (Cepeda et al. 2009; Boni 2009). Some training and scientific programs are trying to combine and evaluate the quantitative scientific analysis together with the qualitative public perception of natural hazards in different areas (Maquaire et al. 2009; Gunasekera et al. 2009; Scolobig et al. 2009).

While there are some training materials available on-line (FEMA 2008; EMA 2008; BESAFE-NET 2009), and literature gives basic information about the methodology of multi-hazard risk assessment (DEBRIS 2006; NAHRIS 2006), open source GIS-based training materials and textbooks are still scarce. Moreover, most of the applications are restricted to specific countries due to constrained types and quantity of data.

RiskCity distance-education course is built on the application of GIS for multi-hazard risk assessment. This course is designed for academic staff, planners, geographers, architects, and engineers, as well as for professionals working in NGOs where knowledge of disaster risk management is essential. The RiskCity distance education course is designed especially for those people from developing countries who should not be restricted in using the training package due to financial burdens of (GIS) software acquisition. It deals with procedures to collect, analyze, and evaluate spatial information for risk assessment from natural and human-induced hazards (Crozier and Glade 2005).

The aim is to use an Open Source solution (ILWIS software) as a basis (van Westen 2008a) for the RiskCity training package, so that students can interact with virtual classmates, proceed step-by-step, receive instruction and support from tutors, and submit results. The course supports the participants (van Westen 2008b) by teaching them about spatial data requirements for risk assessment, hazard assessment procedures, achievement of elements at risk databases, vulnerability assessment, qualitative and quantitative risk assessment methods, risk evaluation, and risk reduction for such hazards as earthquakes, flooding, technological hazards, and landslides. …

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