Seismic resilience decision support tool

A prototype tool to guide decisions on where to invest time, effort, and resources to maximise improvements to seismic resilience.


The 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquake sequence caused significant damage to the central business district of Christchurch and the nearby suburbs, leading to billions of dollars in damage to buildings and infrastructure and significant psycho-social impacts on the community (Potter, Becker, Johnston, & Rossiter, 2015). For several decades prior to this event, New Zealand had experienced a relatively calm seismic period. Where attention was paid to earthquake resilience, this was primarily focused on the Wellington region and on South Island rural areas expected to be heavily impacted by any Alpine Fault rupture. The Canterbury earthquakes were a reminder that questions around how to reduce the impact of seismic events are relevant to much of the country.

In this project, researchers created a prototype decision support tool to guide choices about where to invest time, effort, and resources to maximise improvements to seismic resilience. A decision support tool is a helpful device to indicate strengths, trade-offs, and co-benefits of different types of projects in environments where resources are limited and there is significant uncertainty about risk. The DST is intended to be a usable and robust tool that can aid decision making from problem formulation to identifying a range of suitable actions. The prototype DST is user-focused with an emphasis on engagement and participation.

The design of the DST derives from multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA), deep uncertainty, decision making for long temporal horizons, and multiple futures scenario modelling, each of which are necessary considerations for low-probability/high-impact events such as major earthquakes. More commonly applied decision support methods, such as cost-benefit analysis, tend to be inadequate in these conditions (Bonzanigo & Kalra, 2014). The combination of multi-criteria decision analysis with techniques designed for navigating complex, uncertain, and perhaps relatively distant futures enables a process of holistic decision making beyond financial costs and benefits.

Key contact

Tracy Hatton

Principal Consultant
p: 021 160 7707
e : [email protected]

Project team

Robert Kipp

Post-doc Researcher (2016)

Tracy Hatton

Principal Consultant
Resilient Organisations Ltd

Erica Seville

Executive Director
Resilient Organisations Ltd

Our funders

We are grateful for our funders who support our research and have contributed to this project.

Project report

Supporting robust decision making on seismic resilience investments: development and trial application of a Decision Support Tool

Report prepared by Bob Kipp, Tracy Hatton, Erica Seville.
Resilient Organisations Report 2017/02. May 2017.

Scroll to Top