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Funding clears the way for hazard event research

April 27, 2004

Funding clears the way for hazard event research work

How to get roads re-opened sooner and prevent businesses from going under after hazard events, such as natural disasters, are two elements of a major new project involving staff at the University of Canterbury.

The project has secured nearly 1.8-million dollars from the government’s science funding agency, the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, and will be led by Dr Erica Dalziell, a civil engineering lecturer at Canterbury University.

It also involves researchers from the University of Auckland and Kestrel Group, a private company which specialises in risk and emergency management.

Ten organisations, including Transit New Zealand and Telecom, will feature in the project’s case studies. Their structure and how they are positioned to act during and after a hazard event will be evaluated by the project team, which also includes Dr Andre Dantas, Dr Jason Le Masurier, Associate Professor Alan Nicholson and Dr John Vargo of Canterbury University.

Dr Dalziell says the six-year project will help New Zealand organisations recover economic competitiveness after hazard events by improving their organisational systems.

“There is a need for research focused on organisations and their systems as it is organisations that manage, maintain and operate our infrastructure, create our economy and contribute to our society. The ability of organisations to respond effectively following a natural hazard event will have a large influence on the length of time that essential services are unavailable, and therefore New Zealand’s ability to retain economic competitiveness in the aftermath of a hazard event.”

Dr Dalziell says the economic imperative to build businesses and organisations that are more resilient to hazards was clearly illustrated by the September 11 terrorist attacks, where business interruption losses far exceeded the sum of all property losses.

“An organisation’s ability to respond effectively will depend, to a large degree, on their organisational structure, the management and operational systems they have in place, and the resilience of these. This research will reduce potential business disruption losses by improving the way that organisations structure and integrate their hazard risk management thinking.”


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