Do communities have the same risk priorities? What impacts a community’s risk tolerance?

Insights from our resilient buildings project

Over the past year, we’ve been working alongside the New Zealand Society of Earthquake Engineering, with funding from the Earthquake Commission, to understand societal expectations for the seismic performance of buildings. 

In this series of posts, we explore some of our key findings in more depth to give some insight into what New Zealanders think about the performance of buildings in the event of an earthquake and the changes and decisions the country needs to make regarding our seismic engineering and building practices and the current regulatory regime.

Do communities have the same risk priorities? What impacts a community’s risk tolerance?

Communities have many competing priorities – of which seismic resilience is just one.

Understanding a community’s risk tolerance is helpful when planning and prioritising risk mitigation.  In our recent EQC-funded NZSEE Resilient Buildings Project we explored what influences a community’s risk tolerance and how that translates to priorities within its building stock.

Hazard zone, geographic isolation, the density of the built environment, and recovery capacity all influenced community risk tolerance. We found that the context of a community led to prioritisation of different buildings. For example, focus groups with agricultural-based economies placed greater importance on agricultural infrastructure (e.g., food production facilities and transport/logistics hubs) compared to those with urban professional, service-based, and manufacturing economies.

Get in touch if you want to explore how to go about understanding your community’s risk tolerance.

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