Resilience NEWS

Should we measure resilience?

I’ve been reflecting on the idea of measuring resilience since the conference in Montpellier last month where @vgalaz quipped “Resilience metrics is the new black @resilience2014”. Efforts to measure resilience are well underway while at the same time there are concerns about what exactly is being measured and whether this shift in focus misses the point of what resilience thinking has to offer. My own thinking on this is that it depends on what you are trying to achieve but a deeper understanding of both perspectives is likely to benefit both approaches in the long-term…


Record Investment in Flood and Disaster Mitigation Projects (Australia)


Giant earthen levees will rise, new drainage systems will be built and more early warning systems deployed through the Newman Government’s latest record investment in flood and disaster mitigation projects to protect Queensland families. Local Government, Community Recovery and Resilience Minister David Crisafulli said more than 40 councils would spend almost $52 million from the 2014-15 Disaster Mitigation and Resilience Funding program on more than 80 projects…


Albertans, one year after the deluge: Four stories of resilient rebuilding

It has been one year since rain pounded the foothills of the southern Alberta Rockies – heavy, relentless rain more typical of a tropical storm than a late-spring shower. In Canmore, more than 200 millimetres fell in 2 1/2 days, 10 times the amount of a typical rainfall that time of year. A torrent of floodwater from the headwaters of the Bow and Elbow rivers swept through streets and homes in such communities as Exshaw, Bragg Creek, High River and eventually through the heart of downtown Calgary and on to Medicine Hat…


Social donations spike when severe disasters occur, statistics show

The amount of social donations went up as natural disasters occurred, according to statistics released by the top civil affairs authority on Tuesday. Last year, the total amount of social donations, including cash and relief materials, was 56.6 billion yuan ($9 billion), of which 81 percent was collected from non-governmental channels. This was slightly lower than that of 2012 (57.3 billion yuan), the statistics show. Xu Jianzhong, deputy head of social welfare and donations from the ministry, said the donations went up when severe natural disasters occurred, according to a report in China Youth Daily. The statistics showed that the donations increased greatly in 2008, exceeding 74.5 billion yuan, a record high, mainly because a devastating earthquake hit Wenchuan, Sichuan province. And 2010 witnessed the second-highest donations after an earthquake hit Yushu in Gansu province…


Pet Preparation for Natural Disasters

pets and disIt’s important to remember that if the need to evacuate the home arises, often it will have to be done very quickly. Know ahead of time the necessary route to take, and identify potential shelter locations along the route. It’s important to be aware which shelters will accommodate pets, or if there are designated shelters for evacuated animals nearby…

2 thoughts on “Resilience NEWS

  1. Thanks for reading Simon. Appreciate your thoughtful response. Vital part of the whole approach to resilience building is the ability to rely on systems such as measuring any activity. best. Jelenko


  2. In response to Jelenko and this dissertation by Allyson Quinlan (, I have a number of concerns relating to the use of metrics to measure anything, which I hope can be avoided in the pursuit of resilience outcomes. Measuring anything over time in a meaningful way is difficult; particularly if the aim is to derive statistically relevant observations or to be capable of achieving robust predictions from these observations.

    Measuring things alone can be difficult enough. To then use a method to analyse the measurements, by metrics or otherwise, will unavoidably introduce a systematic error to the analysis and will create biased results, which may also differ in meaning to what is inferred by the various information consumers. It is this last point that I want to discuss further.

    My perspective comes from experience in capital markets, M&A and due diligence engagements. In this environment achieving successful outcome requires: getting good information early; feeding that information into targeted analyses; and delivering the required information to the relevant decision maker. To my mind achieving resilience, whether it be in commerce, disaster recovery, or otherwise, relies on these same requirements.

    A key problem in analysis of corporate performance and associated risks arises from different information requirements of the various information consumers. Broadly there are two groups: internal; and external. The key difference between them being that internal users have access to all the information all the time (whether they access it or not), while the external users are presented with well vetted, abbreviated, pre-analysed data delivered by the internal users. The external users have to rely on the efficacy, accuracy, and standards compliance of the information delivered to them, and make their decisions accordingly.

    For the most part this information system works well and fulfills the key requirements of the investment community. However, there have been many times when the system has failed badly and everyone pays the price. Good examples include the GFC, the collapse of HIH in Australia, and the collapse of Enron in the USA. In each of these examples, the damage done to the information users and broader community was the result of improper information being delivered to external users, and their undue reliance on it. The GFC has clearly demonstrated that all types of decision makers can make bad choices when they rely on historically relevant information (including data and metrics) that are based on underlying assumptions that no longer apply to the circumstances.

    So, should we measure resilience? Yes.

    Should we develop metrics so that information can be compiled and analysed quickly and efficiently by a range of information users? Absolutely.

    Can measurement and analyses of resilience data, through standard formats and metrics, deliver successful resilience outcomes? Maybe – but not without addressing: the issue of who needs what information when; and, the quality of data being fed in and what gets lost along the way (rubbish in = rubbish out).

    Specifically in response to Allyson Quinlan’s statement that “In resilience assessment, a main objective of the exercise is to re-conceptualize a system, place, or issue from an alternative perspective, i.e., through a resilience lens and focusing on interactions such that new insights emerge and interventions can be better informed”, I hope that the focus of the resilience community can deliver an effective method of re-evaluating underlying assumptions, continually re-invigorating the attention of information consumers, and delivering relevant and up to date information when it counts. If the information system grows and is reconciled in a manner that reflects resilience thinking, there are great prospects that it can deliver the desired outcomes.

    Simon Fifield
    Starting Block Business Consultants


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