Project title

Министерство науки  и
высшего   образования
Российской Федерации

Российская Академия Наук

Отделение энергетики, машиностроения
механики и процессов управления

Федеральное государственное бюджетное учреждение науки

Институт машиноведения
им. А.А. Благонравова
Российской академии наук

  • русский
  • english

Project title

Analysis and Synthesis of Loss Estimation &  Risk Assessment Methodologies for Prediction and Prevention of Catastrophes

Project reference number: SfP-981416

NATO country:

NATO country Project Director (NPD)

Dr. Charles Scawthorn, Berkeley, USA


Dr. Frederick Krimgold, Alexandria, USA

Dr. Keith Porter, Pasadena, USA

Partner country:

Partner-country Project Director (PPD)

Dr.Vitaly P. Petrov, Moscow, Russia


Dr. Anatoly  I. Zaporogets, Moscow Russia

Dr. Dmitry O. Reznikov, Moscow,  Russia

End-user: Dr. Mikhail I. Faleev, Moscow, Russia

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Project workshop ‘Critical Analysis of Current Loss Estimation and Risk Assessment Methodologies. Identification of Ways to Develop a Comprehensive Multi-Hazard Methodology’ was held in Moscow (May 31 – June 2, 2006).

1. Background and Justification of the Project

1.1 Situation in Russia

Risk based assessment of safety is envisaged in the legislative framework of the Russian Federation (Federal Law on Technological Safety, Federal Law on Technological Regulation).

In addition, there are a number of sectoral loss estimation and risk assessment methodologies for nuclear power engineering, chemical and oil-refining industries, transportation complex and electro power engineering, as well as methodologies of loss estimation for specific natural hazards (earthquakes, floods, forest fires etc.). A combined atlas of hazards and risks for Russia was developed in 2005 by the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Emergency Situations.

However Russia does not have a standardized comprehensive multi-hazard methodology for assessing losses and risks related to various natural catastrophes, man-made accidents and terrorist impacts that would take into account synergistic interaction of various factors of catastrophic processes development. A substantial drawback of the above mentioned methodologies is that they do not permit predictive estimates of risks and losses for systems (industrial facility, municipality, region) affected by natural or manmade catastrophe that may occur at varying points of time. This need exists both for traditional and emerging new risks; for plans of implementing large-scale engineering projects; for application of new materials and technologies; for increase of human-induced pressures on the environment; and for terrorist activity.

1.2 Identification of the problem

Efficient allocation of resources for potential natural, technological and security catastrophes requires a risk-based approach. A number of regional loss estimation and risk assessment methodologies (LERA-methodology) exist, which are beginning to evolve into standardized methodologies (HAZUS and CATS in the USA, EXTREMUM’ in Russia, LessLoss in the EU, RADIUS developed by UNEP, etc). Development of differing and competing LERA methods will inhibit international cooperation, which is vitally needed in the face of potential catastrophes. A common scientific and methodological basis is needed for risk analysis and for development of a standardized comprehensive methodology for loss estimation and risk assessment that will permit consideration of the interaction of natural, technological and human-induced factors and terrorist mechanisms of triggering catastrophes. The methodology is also needed to provide an opportunity for predictive estimates of losses resulting from future scenario catastrophes in view of system dynamics (industrial facility, municipality, region) as well as the spectrum and intensity of threats. A common methodology will permit:

  • Creation of a scientific basis for the transition of safety management to a unified system of risk indices;
  • Development of recommendations for: (a) measures to reduce system vulnerabilities (facility, municipality, region etc.); (b) rational allocation of resources; (c) planning of activities for response and reconstruction;
  • Identification and prioritization of prevention and mitigation measures;
  • Reduction of uncertainty of estimates through reducing model uncertainty;
  • Performing evaluation of large-scale engineering projects;
  • Assessing the expediency of applying new materials and technologies;
  • Modifying plans for development of industrial facilities, municipalities, regions in order to ensure their safe and sustainable development.

1.3 Science or technology to be developed and applied

Modern strategies for ensuring natural-technological-social safety are focused on prediction and prevention of catastrophes rather than rescue and response efforts. The basis is comprehensive risk management, which requires a comprehensive assessment of risks to facilities, municipalities and regions.

Different countries have developed different approaches to ensuring the safety of the natural and built environment in accordance with local traditions, economic, political, historic and social conditions. These approaches differ so significantly that integration of approaches, data and results are currently precluded, which hinders international cooperation in disaster mitigation. Comparison of approaches should identify areas for cooperation and for advancing technical methods.

Global experience shows that most nations, no matter how high the level of its political and economic development, can benefit from transnational efforts in research, methodological, legal and organizational areas. This applies to risk management and LERA methodologies, which is a complex cross-discipline problem that can only be solved through integrated and multidisciplinary international cooperation. The individual experience of different countries is certainly of great value. But the rapid development of global infrastructure networks (both physical networks such as energy, communication and transportation systems, and virtual networks such as Internet) demands further coordination of international efforts.

Specialists of NATO countries and Russia have developed substantial expertise in creating LERA-methodologies for specific types of hazards. These include the HAZUS and CATS software in the USA, EXTREMUM’ in Russia. The EU has recently embarked on development of a comparable program termed LessLoss. Beyond the NATO countries, a primitive LERA methodology, RADIUS, has been developed by UNEP. Implementing a coordinated program in the field of prediction and prevention of catastrophes through analysis of existing methods of loss estimation and risk assessment, and development of a new comprehensive multi-hazard methodology, is a necessary condition for safe and sustainable social and economic development of the world community.

The project proposes to collect data on current risk assessment and loss estimation methodologies, and analyze these methods for the purposes of synthesizing a common procedure for multi-hazard risk assessment including terrorist activity. The result will be an outline of a transnational LERA methodology, and special modules permitting predictive estimates of losses and risks resulting from future catastrophes.

2. Current Status

2.1 Status of related R&D activity in Russia and world-wide

Since 1991, Research Institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Universities, Research centers of the government and state technological agencies have been involved in development of the State Research and Development Program ‘Safety of Population and Industrial Facilities in View of Risks from Natural and Technological Catastrophes’. The results of these studies were summarized in a 24-volume series ‘Safety of Russia. Legal, Social, Economic, Scientific, and Technological Aspects of Safety’ and 6-volume series ‘Natural Hazards in Russia’. The project team will use data, models and approaches of IMS and IGE that are presented in volumes as follows:

  • Series ‘Safety of Russia’: Volume 6 ‘Operation and Development of Complex Technological, Power Engineering, Transportation and Communication Systems.’ (part 1 and 2); Volume 19. ‘Safety of Pipeline Transportation’.
  • Series ‘Natural Hazards in Russia’ – Volume 6. ‘Assessment and Management of Natural Risks’.

An intensive research activity in the field of developing and upgrading sectoral LERA methodologies is being conducted in Russia, GIS-technologies are being actively used for estimation and prediction of losses resulted from earthquakes, forest fires, floods; estimation of consequences of technological accidents at high potential hazard facilities of atomic engineering, power engineering, chemical and oil-refining industries; estimation of losses related to spills of hazardous materials, etc.

Since 19995 CDDMMRI has been actively involved in R&D activity on developing an automatic system for operative forecasting consequences of extreme events called GIS ‘EXTREMUM’. Its purpose is the operational estimation of possible consequences of natural and technological extreme events (earthquakes, floods, forest fires, oil spills, chemical failures, explosions, fires at various facilities) on the basis of information from electronic maps, with their subsequent display. The product information is used for decision making by governing authorities of a various levels. As needed, GIS may be developed for specific facility and its vicinities.

This system is developed on the basis of an electronic map in the ArcInfo environment, where the estimation of probable conditions resulting from of extreme event is made with the help of the prior information. Results of calculation are displayed in textual (tables, reports) and in a graphic format (isoseismal lines, zones of flooding, oil spills, destructions, which are mapped).

GIS ‘EXTREMUM’ consists of the following blocks:

  • An electronic cartographical basis (a set of graphic objects and semantic information);
  • Calculation modules for estimating probable consequences of an extreme events.
  • databases used during calculation and for storing of auxiliary information.

Probabilistic estimation is carried out by one operator through the use of the system. All process of calculation, from input of the initial data to output of results takes less than 10 minutes. Hence, the estimation of consequences is made in a close to real time scale.

Being a multi-hazard tool, GIS EXTREMUM’ is mainly focused on estimating consequences of seismic events. It permits:

  • Input with any pre-setting periodicity the operative information about parameters of strong earthquakes (coordinates, origin time, magnitude, depth) from Web sites of Seismic Surveys of the world, such as National Seismic Information Center of USA, European Mediterranean Seismological Center (France), Geophysical Survey of Russian Academy of Sciences.
  • Compute the damage extent and possible social and economic losses from earthquakes, and identify effective response measures.
  • Export the results to the Web site of the Russian Agency on Monitoring and Forecast of Emergency Situations.

The computation time performance takes up 10 min. after receiving alert data about a strong event. The response scenario may be prepared within 1.5-2 hours after a strong earthquake in any country; average error in social losses assessment is 60 %.

The accuracy of possible damage and loss assessment depends on the reliability of information about existing building stock in the stricken area. Identification of the data on the existing building stock is achieved trough the use of high resolution space images. The possibility of loading the high resolution space images of the stricken areas into the system for operative (real time) losses assessment was analyzed. The development of procedure of space images decoding provides for a rapid update of the information about the existing building stock and about the distribution of buildings with different number of stories. At present the procedure permits estimate the vulnerability of different classes of buildings with high probability.

System’s database includes the information arrays, which are divided into four groups.

The first IA group allows one to describe the space under study in details. This group contains the digital topographic data. The accuracy, completeness and reliability of the data correspond to the standards for the scales of maps. M. 1 : 5 000 000; 1 : 1 000 000; 1 : 100 000; 1 : 10 000,     1: 2 000. Small-scaled maps give general information about the regional topography. Large-scaled maps allow the structure of cities and towns to be described.

The second IA group is assigned to describe seismic hazards. It contains catalogs and information from seismic zonation maps of different scale (review, detailed and micro-zonation). The data forms the set of thematic maps, tables, networks and lists.

The third IA group provides the description of different elements at risk: population, buildings and structures, lifeline systems, hazardous facilities, et al. The information about buildings may be both detailed (type of structure, materials, date of construction, height and so on) and generalized. For instance, the distribution of buildings characterized by different vulnerability classes within the city districts. The information about the population distribution in the buildings and city districts within 24 hours is also included.

The fourth IA group combines the parameters of mathematical models for population distribution, building damage distribution, casualties and fatalities, for rescue team operations and others.

All four IA groups are interrelated by single coordinate space (coordinate system B, L, H) and by a unified code system. The Internet is also used as a technical tool for data collecting and the presentation of the obtained results.

The mathematical models allow one to:

  • obtain the distribution of earthquake intensities and peak ground motion accelerations;
  • obtain the fragility laws for the buildings and structures of different type, which are characteristic for the considered area, as well as for the other elements of infrastructure;
  • estimate damage due to scenario and real earthquakes and collateral hazards;
  • Compute an individual seismic risk and risks due to other hazards;
  • compute individual complex risks.

On the basis of the results of computations for scenario and real events, the decision is taken about immediate response and/or preventive measures. The results obtained could also be used by local authorities for verification of preventive measures planned in the case of a strong event. The output results of computations are presented in thematic maps, tables, graphs, as well as pages by means of the Internet.

One should also note that the problem of loss estimation and risk assessment is addressed in the course of developing large-scale technological projects. In particular in the process of implementing the project of oil recovery on Sakhalin shelf the methodology of risk assessment at offshore oil recovery facilities is being applied. The methodology includes:

  • Modules of input data (data bases on the considered facility/installation, on surrounding territory, inventory of neighboring facilities, etc.).
  • Module of triggering events (identification of hazards sources, initiating events, models of destruction, damaging factors for different equipment).
  • Model for estimation of consequences of the accident (calculation of expected frequency of the accidents, square of affected area, writing down results in the ‘scenario file’). This module provides quantitative assessments of accident consequences based on modeling catastrophic processes, it also determines damaging factors and their intensity.
  • Model for obtaining quantitative characteristics of losses.
  • Model for output data analysis, determination of major risk factors and risk reduction measures.

Results generated by this methodology allow to take justified decisions on the expediency of major technological projects. The methodology can be used as a component of a decision support tool to ensure safety and reduce risks.

2.2 Knowledge existing in the group(s) which will work on the Project

Specialists of the International Institute of Engineering Safety have accumulated a vast bank of knowledge on analyzing terrorist risks and developing systems for protection of high potential loss facilities from terrorist impacts. Specialists of IIES are good at various methods for quantitative risk assessments (deterministic, probabilistic and logical-and-probabilistic approaches). The Institute takes an active part in developing integrated risk mitigation programs and organizing international cooperation in safety-related research. Being an active participant of the NATO-Russia Scientific Cooperation Program (Research area 3: Prediction and Prevention of Catastrophes) IIES is experienced in disaster mitigation and assessing losses and risks related to natural and manmade catastrophes.

Institute of Machine Sciences plays an active role in developing scientific bases for sectoral and multi-sectoral procedures of risk assessment at different branches of industry, conducting quantitative risk assessments at high potential loss facilities (nuclear power plants, chemical plants, power engineering facilities, pipelines and transportation facilities). The Institute has expertise in predicting development of certain branches of industry (especially machine –building, nuclear power and oil-refining), employing new materials and technologies. These forecasts allow one to assess changes in intensity and spectrum of threats to the facilities, municipalities and regions for short-, middle- and long-term future.

Specialists of The Civil Defense and Disaster Management Research Institute contributed a lot to: collection, analysis and synthesis of methods of loss estimation and risk assessment for prediction and prevention of natural disasters; developing a unified scientific and methodological basis of risk assessment and prediction of emergency consequences; and implementing it through developing software-hardware complexes equipped with geo- information systems.

Scawthorn Porter Associates (SPA) has significant experience in the development of loss estimation methodologies, and in their application in regional planning, development of infrastructure mitigation programs, and in their application in the finance and insurance industries.  Dr. Charles Scawthorn was a pioneer in the 1970s, performing innovative research on regional loss estimation in Japan.  In the early 1980s he developed stochastic models of fire ignitions following earthquakes, and fire department response, which have been employed worldwide by the insurance and fire professions.  In the late 1980s he was one of the founders of one of the leading insurance industry risk modeling firms.  In the early 1990s he led a major study of the seismic risk to the US national infrastructure, for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and in the late 1990s led the technical development of a US national flood loss estimation model, also for FEMA.  In addition to being a Principal at SPA , Dr. Scawthorn holds the Chair of Lifeline Engineering at Kyoto University, Japan.  Dr. Keith Porter is also a Principal at SPA and is recognized for the development of the ABV (Assembly Based Vulnerability) methodology, which has been employed by the California Earthquake Authority and other agencies.  In addition to being a Principal at SPA, Dr. Porter is on the research staff at the California Institute of Technology. 

3. Objectives

The objectives of the project are to:

1.      Research, collect, classify and analyze methods of loss estimation and risk assessment currently employed in Russia and NATO countries, towards the goal of developing advanced methods of loss estimation, for the forecasting and prevention of catastrophes.

2.      Create a unified comprehensive LERA-methodology for natural-manmade catastrophes and terrorist attacks; integration of the existing national approaches and banks of data for development of the international risk assessment framework that will permit economies in R&D and international safety standards.

As a result of the project, it is anticipated that significant efficiencies and savings in R&D and capital expenditures will be realized, in Russia, the NATO and other countries. 

4. Implementation of Results

1) A number of meetings with representatives of the End-User (Ministry of Emergency Situations) will be held to inform them on ongoing research activity and to coordinate the further work.

2) Training of young scientists representing End-User to apply the developed methodology is provided for.

3) The developed methodology will be used by the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations for:

  • mitigating possible consequences of catastrophes;
  • anticipating possible nature and scope of emergency response needed to cope with a scenario catastrophe;
  • developing plans for recovery and reconstruction following a scenario catastrophe;
  • developing long-term forecasts of changes of traditional and emerging new risks.

4) The methodology will be used by government bodies on the federal and regional levels as a decision support tool to take justified decisions on the expediency of large-scale technical projects development.

5) The methodology will be used by local authorities for working out and adopting plans of developing territories/municipalities and allocation of essential and high potential loss facilities in view of ensuring secure and sustainable development.

5. Criteria for Success

Criteria for Success

Relative weight


1. Collection, comparative analysis and classification existing LERA-methodologies of various countries.


2. Development and upgrade of standardized loss estimation and risk assessment methodologies related to specific hazards.

15 %

3. Synthesis of comprehensive standardized loss estimation and risk assessment methodology for natural/manmade hazards and terrorist impacts.


4. Synthesis of methodology that provides predictive estimates of losses and risks related to major catastrophes that could occur in short-, middle- and long-term future (prediction for 5, 15 and 50 years).


5. Dissemination of the project results to the international scientific community.


One year after completion of the project.


6. Implementation of the developed methodology in the activity of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations.