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Assessing Vulnerability: Using Both the 'Soft-Non-Scientific' Path and the Scientific Approach to Measuring Critical Infrastructures

NCJ Number
Homeland Defense Journal Volume: 5 Issue: 12 Dated: December 2007/January 2008 Pages: 42,44,46
Robert McCreight Ph.D.; Irmak Renda-Tanali D.Sc.
Date Published
December 2007
4 pages
This article briefly examines the use of ‘soft’ approaches to infrastructure vulnerability assessment and the use of scientific approaches to infrastructure vulnerability assessment.
For years, States and local governments have been tackling the task of assessing the vulnerability of their key infrastructures in order to prepare for disasters and mitigate destructive effects. So, it is of significant importance to find ways to enhance the manner in which rituals of infrastructure vulnerability assessments are performed. Strategic approaches towards vulnerability assessments can include formal engineering studies, economic and mathematical models, and more simple evaluations by citizens, industrial leaders, and other experts relying largely on their professional experience. The bottom line is to find an approach that is sensible and understandable by both the citizens, affected by the studies, and emergency managers, who must implement them. The ‘soft’ approach is considered pragmatic, very understandable and basic in terminology and design, and relatively nonscientific or nonmathematical. Soft approaches are ground in practical issues linked directly to the operational status of valuable infrastructures and the strategies employed to safeguard them. Scientific approaches focus on a blend of engineering, risk assessment, and mathematical models that tend to isolate key factors and concentrate on metrics that can be studied and objectively measured.