Hazard Owl world map of natural disasters

+ Arup’s Hazard Owl system assesses real-time natural hazard information and the risks they pose to an asset portfolio.

An essential part of resilience in the face of natural disaster is responding quickly. And that’s where smarter data can help businesses.

Today there is a plethora of real-time information available from national and international scientific organisations, covering everything from earthquakes to wildfires. Thanks to the internet and mobile technology, these feeds can alert you immediately to danger.

But they don’t give you the full story. Exactly what is the risk the impending disaster poses to your business? And what exactly should you do to reduce the risk? The information available needs to be put into a context that helps you act.

Take one example from a client we’re working with. When an earthquake occurred offshore near Wellington in New Zealand over the weekend, the operations manager of a global bank was alerted from real-time updates from Twitter and the television news.

But these couldn’t tell him what the impact on the bank’s building would be, so he couldn’t plan exactly what actions they’d have to take to keep working. Should he tell his staff to not come into work? Would they need to make repairs? Would they need to set up temporary servers elsewhere?

What he needed, and what businesses around the world need, is a system that combines real-time information about the hazard with details of how vulnerable your assets are. These details could be something as simple as the exact location of all your buildings, so you can easily see which ones are in the path of an approaching cyclone, for example.

Or it could be more complex. For example, the risk information action system could connect to a detailed BIM model of each asset. Then you could receive warnings if a predicted event like a cyclone or hurricane exceeds an asset’s design limits.

Drawing on our experience of the built environment, Arup is developing exactly this sort of system – called Hazard Owl. After combining real-time information about natural disasters with details of your assets’ vulnerability, it recommends actions based on your business’s specific risk management plans.

These actions might include alerting your employees by email, backing up and shutting down your data servers or carrying out structural inspections of your buildings. So when a natural disaster strikes, you know exactly how it will affect you and what you should do to reduce your risk.

What data do you think you need to help your business become more resilient?