Keywords: disaster management, natural hazards, HAZUS, planning, risk modelling, technology, risk assessment, GIS, geographical information systems, emergency management, crisis response, hazard mitigation
Risk assessment and GIS in natural hazards: issues in the application of HAZUS
The use of HAZUS is being encouraged by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) as jurisdictions are being forced, by regulation, to perform more sophisticated planning and risk assessment. HAZUS is a multi-hazard risk assessment tool that is available to public sector free of charge, and runs on the ArcGIS platform. The promotion, however, does not mean that HAZUS is a wonder drug, one that would enable a jurisdiction to 'drop in' case scenario data and get immediate and accurate risk assessments and results. HAZUS comes with default data, and therefore the acquisition of local data is needed by jurisdictions to obtain more accurate results. Prior to its utilisation, the costs of data acquisition, creation and accuracy need to be considered. Additionally, jurisdictions are encouraged to consider aerial photography and satellite imagery as an option for more accurate risk assessment and post disaster response.