Economic systems modelling of infrastructure interdependencies for an Alpine Fault earthquake in New Zealand

Garry W. McDonald, Nicola J. Smith, Joon-Hwan Kim, Charlotte Brown, Robert Buxton and Erica Seville

Article, Civil Engineering and Environmental Systems, Published online 13 November 2018


Modern societies are increasingly dependent on interconnected infrastructure networks. The vulnerability of these networks to complex, and potentially cascading, interdependency-related failures is also increasing.  Infrastructure networks face multi-faceted risks at the confluence of many emerging societal and environmental pressures. Navigating pathways through these risks necessitates resilience-based initiatives with compelling economic value cases. In this paper, we use the novel ‘Measuring the Economics of Resilient Infrastructure Tool’ (MERIT) to assess the economic disruption associated with a potential Alpine Fault earthquake, with an estimated 30 percent probability of happening in the next 50 years (Robinson et al. 2015). Our analysis is focused mainly on infrastructure-related economic disruption. We advocate for a system of systems approach that assesses consequences dynamically across space, through time, for multiple stakeholders. Our integrated modelling approach involves dynamic equilibrium-seeking feedbacks and organisational behavioural adaption that fosters systems thinking, richer modelling and reduces risks of doubling counting or omission. One year after the earthquake, the loss in Gross Domestic Product is shown to range between NZ$156 and 586 million (~US$135-508 million). Our research represents a crucial first step to developing better economic value cases for resilience-related infrastructure investment.

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