USGS Publishes Strategic Risk Assessment Plan

two firefighters putting out large fireThe U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has released a report, Science for a Risky World: A USGS Plan for Risk Research and Applications, addressing opportunities to increase its role in risk assessment, mitigation, and crisis communication. Given the increased public demand for reliable information for planning and responding to environmental hazards, the USGS aims to highlight the importance of “empowering the Nation to prepare for and cope with hazards using scientific data and research.” The Risk Plan includes a variety of tools, such as hazard assessments, operational forecasts and warnings, vulnerability assessments, risk communications, decision-support systems, and post-event assessments.

Along with a number of thematic case studies, the Plan provides a set of specific recommendations for establishing mechanisms of risk research and applications. The key action points are the following:

  • Continue developing effective relationships with partners and other stakeholders on all stages of  scientific risk assessment and post-event evaluation;
  • Identify and prioritize risk research and applications funding through joint proposals and supplemental opportunities;
  • Create a central, Bureau-wide point of contact for risk research and applications;
  • Develop a web page or wiki to establish an online foundation for a USGS community of practice;
  • Address staffing, mentoring, and training needs;
  • Identify collaboration opportunities with other agencies and outside partners; and
  • Encourage follow-up re-evaluations and contributions to this Plan.

Significantly, the Risk Research and Applications Plan explores new opportunities for collaborations between the Bureau as well as the community at large in order to develop and deliver “actionable information to improve risk reduction.” Each listed activity ties in to the USGS Fundamental Science Practices coupled with the Nation’s most pressing environmental hazard preparedness needs. The Plan incorporates the existing data and experience while setting up a long-term agenda for identifying and responding to a variety of natural disasters.

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