Natech Risk Assessment and Management – Reducing the risk of Natural-hazard Impact on Hazardous Installations

Authors: Elisabeth Krausmann; Ana Maria Cruz; Ernesto Salzano
The problem that is currently on the rise is that of technical disasters triggered by previous natural disasters or natural events. Examples include frost, heat, drought, rainfall, floods, earthquakes, whether or not combined in tsunamis, lightning strikes, etc.
In an extensive introduction, the authors give a number of examples of what these natural phenomena can do. And that is quite something: ranging from power cuts and pipe breaks, to destruction of storage tanks and explosions. These in turn give rise to an evacuation of the employees of the company, the environment, with or without death toll, as well as a possible enormous economic damage and the stagnation of (parts of) the economic activity in the affected area. It is therefore not for nothing that people want to arm themselves against the even worse domino effects of such events. To this end, these so-called Natech events are studied. To make the world a little safer.
Unfortunately, no two Natech disasters are the same. Although performing risk assessments makes progress in this regard, according to the authors, it remains (for the time being) an impossible task to compare the results of risk assessments. That makes it difficult to prioritize. Yet there are some standard works that the authors regularly refer to, among many other things in their detailed literature lists. Namely the so-called purple book, red book, green book and yellow book from TNO. But perhaps more important for their discussion are the software packages RAPID-N, PANR, the methods of TRAS 310 and TRAS 320, risk curves and ARIPAR-GIS. These contain qualitative, semi-quantitative and quantitative risk assessment modules.
After a number of chapters in which RAPID-N, ARIPAR-GIS and RISKCURVES are illustrated with discussion of the results, two chapters deal respectively with structural (technical) measures and organizational (more administrative) measures.
An innovative framework, which the authors say is worthwhile, was proposed by IRGC and consists of the following five elements:

  1. Risk preassessment: an early warning and “framing” of the risk to provide the problem with a structured definition. Or how it is framed by the various stakeholders and interested parties, and how best to deal with it.
  2. Risk assessment. By combining a scientific risk assessment (of the hazard and the probability of it) combined with a systematic ‘concern’ assessment (of public concerns and perceptions) to form the basis of knowledge for taking subsequent decisions.
  3. Characterization and evaluation: making use of scientific data and a thorough understanding of the societal values ​​affected by the risk to determine whether the risk is acceptable, tolerable (with or without mitigation of the risk as a requirement) or intolerable (unacceptable).
  4. Risk management: all actions and remedies that are necessary to avoid, reduce, share or retain a risk.
  5. Risk communication: how stakeholders and interested parties and society understand the risk and participate in the risk governance process.

The work is, in particular, a piece of “compulsory” reading material for continuity managers and risk managers of large companies that are important for the economic motor of a region or country with large industrial installations. It requires a healthy portion of common sense, but also a sufficient knowledge of process engineering to grasp the storylines. In addition, an open view of a wide range of sciences, technical and non-technical, and of society, is necessary to correctly assess the importance of this work.

Managing Outside Pressure – Strategies for Preventing Corporate Disasters

Authors: Matthias Winter; Ulrich Steger

In Chapter 1, the authors offer a historical statement of the Nobel Prize Laureate Economy Friedman from 1962: “In a free society, there is one and only one social responsibility or business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.” With that, organizations became dominant in society. But more and more people believe that today the same organizations are causing much of society’s problems. This creates groups of activists and they start to exert pressure. A number of questions follow from this:

  • What is the stakeholder concept and how can they influence organizations?
  • What is the difference between a “transactional” and a “contextual” environment?
  • How do we evaluate the situation from the point of view of the organization?
  • How do we evaluate the situation from the point of view of the activists?

The authors provide answers to these questions in the course of a number of chapters.

The “Stakeholders” can be an extensive number of groups: consumers, customers, competitors, employees, shareholders, environmental organizations, local communities, local authorities, suppliers, special interest groups, owners, the media, the legislature, scientists and researchers, banks, … they all have an interest somewhere in the results and the operation of the organization.
These can be divided into two groups: the transactional environment and the contextual environment: the first has some professional business relationship with the organization. Normally they can negotiate with the management about the rules for the transaction. The contextual environment has no direct market or business relationships.

There are also activists: these can be loosely classified into environmental activists, health-related activists and socially motivated activists. That way they are mainly in the contextual environment. How can they influence an organization? The authors describe this with “Transmission belts”. The first is direct pressure of protest. A second is the search for associates in the transactional group, for example the customers. This impact can cause the organization a financial hangover. They can also find supporters in the contextual environment, for example with the legislator. They can best use both, since the clients can work flexibly in the short term, while the legislator works more decisively with regulations but more in the long term.

In chapter 3 the authors talk about “Corporate Early Awareness Models”. They state that the traditional model of the stakeholder analysis is outdated. After all, a number of things vary over time: the agendas of the various stakeholders, the importance and influence of different groups, how the organization behaves in the sector, and social values. The new analysis models try to make the difference between early identification versus a late intervention. One advantage on the first is that you can avoid the difficult things so that they are no longer relevant. The second means that you as an organization do not waste time and energy on what is not relevant. In addition, it is good to make a distinction between strong and weak situations. Strong situations are best identified early, while weak situations can usually be dealt with later on. The strong situations run the risk of going through the following stages:

  • “concern”
  • “issue”
  • “crisis”
  • “scandal”

Because it can become a “scandal”, it is necessary to intervene quickly. Weak situations do not usually reach this final stage.

To make a difference between a “strong” and “weak” situation in a systematic way, the tool has been proposed by the authors, from the perspective of the organization. This covers the following eight sections:

  • Are the arguments against the issue plausible?
  • Does the issue cause emotion? Is this understandable – visually and touching – to the public?
  • Is the issue media friendly?
  • Are there links with other issues of the organization or of other involved organizations or within the sector?
  • How strong is the “key” activist group?
  • How isolated is the organization?
  • How far have the dynamics of the crisis already developed?
  • How easy is it to find a solution?

To complete their “world view”, however, the organizations also need a picture of the situation through the eyes of the activists. Which factors make the situation “attractive” for them? And for which type of campaigners? For this, the authors brought the activists into four groups along two axes. First: integrating versus polarizing. Do they integrate the role of the business and the public interest in their own system of objectives or not? Integrators place a high priority on developing a productive win-win relationship with the business, while the polarizers simply push through their minds and do not cooperate with the organizations. The second axis shows whether the action group discriminates between organizations within an industry with regard to a genuine or perceived commitment of the organization to environmental issues, health issues or social issues. “Discriminators” look at the progress of the organizations with regard to benchmarks in their sector. The non-discriminators focus on the problems that the organizations and entire industries cause, without distinction between the good guys and the bad guys. These four groups have their own modus operandi.

  • Sharks arbitrarily attack organizations. They are not very organization-specific in their target and are generally harmless to individual organizations.
  • Sea lions are usually even less dangerous for organizations because they tend to only address weak situations and discussions about social values ​​in general.
  • Dolphins focus more on a single situation and work with the organizations to find a win-win solution.
  • The really dangerous activist groups are the orcas. They isolate the organization and humiliate them in public for their sins. They choose symbolic situations and use a lot of symbolism in their campaigns.

The authors’ research shows that most activist groups, but especially orcas and dolphins, have a collection of guidelines for when to engage in a situation.

When a situation meets the requirements of this or a similar list, the danger of a confrontation increases:

  • The campaign must have a clear goal.
  • The issue must be easily understood by the general public.
  • The issue has a symbolic value.
  • The issue has the potential to damage the image of the organization.
  • The opponent is strong enough (no “underdog” effect).
  • The issue can be packed in a campaign in which the public can be involved.
  • There are solutions that are confrontational, not gradual (political concepts, management concepts, product or process concepts, that are competitive in terms of price and quality).
  • There must be a drama element to the campaign to engage the media.

In chapter six the authors give a number of tips and examples of the application of these checklists. A possible template for a signal description of an upcoming issue includes a place for the following questions:

  • What is the issue?
  • Who is affected? (Internal? External?)
  • Who discovered the situation?
  • When did the signals occur?
  • Where did the signals occur?
  • What are the signals that have occurred?
  • Why can this become an issue that is relevant to the organization?

In Chapter 7, the authors present nine cases of issues that occurred, or were to act potentially in the near future at the time, arguing that the model works.

In chapter eight, the authors indicate that the organization always has the choice between two options:

  • Drop the project / action.
  • Carry out the project / action anyway.

In addition, they provide advice in both cases.

A possible template for these tools can be found in the attachment.

Firearms Acquisition By Terrorists In Europe

Research findings and policy recommendations of Project SAFTE

Authors: Nils Duquet; Kevin Goris
In this book, the authors provide an overview of the knowledge regarding the purchases of weapons in the EU by terrorists. This is a phenomenon that deserves a lot of attention because it has been shown in the recent past that this is “in our back yard”. After every terrorist act there are a multitude of questions from the population. Not only why this happened, but also how this could happen is regularly asked. This book tries to chart the share of the “arms market for terrorists” in the “how” of these questions.
In the first chapter the authors deal with legislation up to 2017. This discussion of the legislation on arms sales shows that the EU still has a lot of work to coordinate between the countries in order to remove legal loopholes concerning arms transports and arms sales.
In the second chapter, the authors discuss the illegal arms markets in Europe itself. This shows how difficult it is to have an overview of something that seems simple, namely how many illegal weapons are there in Europe? The estimate ranges between 81000 and 67000000. Difficulties in making estimates include closed markets, but also the increase in available military grade weapons on illegal markets. Include illegal production, theft and reactivation of deactivated antique weapons, and you will get an unclear picture.
In the third chapter, the authors discuss the accessibility of the arms markets for terrorists. That appears not to be that simple. The arms markets are a closed market. If you already have criminal offenses on your record, you are known and trusted. Moreover, the arms dealers are not as keen on selling weapons if they know that the aim is to commit a terrorist attack. In addition, it appears that these markets are not a single market. Procurement methods differ depending on whether they are separatists, religious terrorists, right-wing terrorist groups or left-wing terrorist groups.
In the fourth chapter, the authors provide a number of policy recommendations with regard to the countries and the EU. This includes a coherent approach to regulation. But they also provide operational advice, such as exchanging data, uniform data storage, collaborating on data analysis, monitoring the implementation of legislation, applying strict penalties … Collaboration with citizens has not been forgotten, by the possibility of them voluntarily turning in their weapons. In addition, they also have an eye for the capabilities to be built in the nations, international coordination and cooperation. Finally, they indicate the following risks to follow up:

  • The increase in available military-grade weapons,
  • The spread of firearms from legality into illegality,
  • The role of weapon collectors and enthusiasts, and handymen,
  • Arms transactions on the internet,
  • The future of 3D printing.

 

 

Action Plan against Disinformation

European Commission contribution to the European Council – December 5th 2018

The starting point of this contribution is that free speech is a core value. The citizen must be able to have verifiable information freely. They need this in order to be able to correctly inform themselves about the wide range of political issues and positions. This democratic process is threatened when disinformation mixes things up.

What is the problem?

Disinformation is understood in this document as information that can be verified as being false or misleading. It is created, presented and disseminated for economic gain, or to mislead the public intentionally, and may cause harm to that public.

This is intended to include threats to democratic processes as well as public health, public safety, the environment or public security.

The action plan responds to the European Council’s question of measures to protect the Union’s democratic systems and to defeat disinformation, including the context of the emerging European elections.

Understanding the threat.

An increase of targeted disinformation campaigns against the Union, its institutions and its policies,  is expected, in the run-up to the European elections of 2019. It uses deep-fakes (video manipulation) counterfeits of official documents, bots (automated software), trolls (false profiles on social media) and information theft. Also the traditional, classical, media continue to play a role. The tools and the techniques change quickly, therefore the response must also be done quickly.

Four pillars for ten actions by the Union in response to disinformation.

Actions against disinformation require political decision-taking and cooperation, across Governments (using counter-hybrid threat, cyber security, information and strategic communication communities, data protection, electoral, Legal and media authorities).

The Four pillars are:

  1. To improve the possibilities of the Union’s institutions to detect, analyse and denounce disinformation;
  2. Strengthen collaborative response against disinformation;
  3. Mobilising the private sector to remove disinformation;
  4. Raising awareness and improving social resilience.

Pillar 1: Improving the possibilities of the Union’s institutions to detect, analyse and denounce disinformation.

Action 1: To strengthen a number of Strategic Communication Task forces with specialized staff in data mining and analysis to process the relevant data. It considers also additional media monitoring services for the many language areas Europe has. In addition, we also need to invest in tools to process these data and conduct assessments.

Action 2: The mandates of the strategic communication Task forces for the western Balkan countries and the southern countries will be reviewed, also in order to effectively address misinformation. Member States should further enhance their national capabilities, including in terms of support for the Union with employees.

Pillar 2: Reinforcing collaborative responses against disinformation.

Action 3: A RAS (Rapid Alert System) is developed and put into use. This RAS should work closely with services from the Member States that are reachable 24/7.

Action 4: An increase in communication efforts on the values and policies of the Union, with a view to the forthcoming European elections. The Member States must also make this effort.

Action 5: The Commission and the High Representative, together with the Member States, will strengthen their strategic communications in the Union’s environment. This is done among other by sharing information, sharing in the lessons, raising awareness, proactive reporting and research to strengthen and share information.

Pillar 3: Mobilising the private sector to remove disinformation.

Action 6: The Commission monitors closely and continuously the implementation of the Code of Practice by its signatories. Where necessary, and in the light of the impending elections, the Commission will insist on a swift and effective compliant implementation. To this end an assessment will take place. If this ‘ Code of Practice ‘ proves insufficient, the Commission may propose further actions, including legal proceedings.

Pillar 4: Raising awareness and improving social resilience.

Action 7: In the longer term, targeted campaigns will be organised for the wider public, as well as training for the media and opinion-makers in the Union and its environment. This is aimed at facing the negative effect of disinformation. Efforts will be taken by independent media and quality journalism as well as the investigation of disinformation to provide a comprehensive response.

Action 8: Member States together with the Commission should provide teams of multidisciplinary independent fact-checkers and researchers with specific knowledge of local information, to detect disinformation campaigns on, among other, social networks and digital media.

Action 9: Actions will be taken on the media literacy of the public. Member states should also make rapid use of provisions of the Audio-visual Media Services Directive.

Action 10: Member states must ensure an effective follow-up of the ‘ Elections Package ‘, in particular the ‘ Recommendation ‘. The Commission will monitor this and provide support and advice where appropriate.

 

The terrorist’s son

Author: Zak Ebrahim with Jeff Giles

In this book the son talks about his father and mother, his youth, his family, and the atrocities of the world.

People are cruel and very short-sighted to each other when it comes to it, . The cultural layer on top of the short drives and instincts that distinguish man from animals is apparently very thin. Z has experienced this from different points of view: hatred of believers of another faith, hatred of children who are too young for empathy, hatred of adults for being simply connected to a “perpetrator” because of bloodlines, hatred against a system where you were received but could not live in, hatred because of greed, hatred in order to be able to respond and to “be at the other side”, but also repentance about the latter.

What Z proves is that they are all choices. Some are very influenced in this. Others are rock solid for their individuality and realize that they choose themselves. They choose despite the circumstances. And despite the circumstances, everyone is liable for his own choices. Regardless of a good lawyer. Regardless of a religious leader. Regardless of the system. Regardless of the pure fact that many can be pointed out for their share in your choice.

That is why terrorism is never OK.

That is why it is important that everyone realizes that their own choice makes a difference. That is in general the hope for this world. That is in general the message that I read in this booklet.

Z kept a TED talk about it. You can find them here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyR-K2CZIHQ

Lessons identified from this life can be:

  • People can continue to choose themselves despite the hateful circumstances.
  • Everything can be misused, also faith.
  • There are four important pillars in a person’s life:

    • family and friends,
    • work,
    • residence,
    • (psychological) health.
  • Always hope for the understanding of others, but do not expect it.
  • Always create a strong friendship with people before you allow yourself to be vulnerable to them.
  • Learn to trust again and again.