Keywords: waterway safety, risk, analytic hierarchy process, decision support, Coast Guard
Risk-based management of waterway safety
Considering safety to be defined as an acceptable level of risk, waterway managers seek to minimise risks in order to maximise safety. Failures in waterway operations result in events that may require emergency response. A proactive management approach identifies potential risks (events, their likelihoods, and their adverse consequences) associated with waterway operations, and identifies areas where improvements will yield reductions in those risks and the consequent incidents. This paper develops a high-level risk-based decision support tool that assesses waterway performance on two dimensions: realised risk outcomes and inferred risks. The assessment results, obtained through an application of the Analytic Hierarchy Process, are represented as a performance map that can be used by waterway managers to compare the performance of different waterways. In addition, the underlying hierarchy can be used to identify those specific areas requiring remedial attention or additional analyses to reduce risk and improve safety. This decision support tool, called the Waterway Evaluation Tool, has been developed for the US Coast Guard to assist management of maritime safety, enhance maritime mobility, and support the protection of natural resources in the maritime environment.