Resilience for high impact low chance risks

DI Blockley, J Agarwal, PS Godfrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Complex behaviour can emerge from interactions between many simpler highly interconnected processes. There is a growing recognition of new high impact risks through interdependencies we may not fully understand. Resilience is the ability of a system to recover quickly from difficult conditions. The similarities and differences with the more usually used terms of sustainability, robustness, vulnerability within risk and disaster planning are explored. Vulnerability is susceptibility to small damage causing disproportionate consequences and is critical in dealing with high impact low chance risks. Risks that are foreseeable are a challenge but those which are difficult or even impossible to foresee (unknown-unknowns) are an even greater challenge when they arise from complex interdependent processes. It is argued that to deal with the latter we engineers need to cultivate the wisdom to admit to knowing what we genuinely do not know. However such an admission will require resilient processes to manage emerging unforeseeable consequences. A generalised vulnerability theory which can be applied to any infrastructure system is described with an example of highway traffic networks.
Translated title of the contributionResilience for high impact low chance risks
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)pages13 –19
Number of pages7
JournalICE Journal
Issue number 6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012


Dive into the research topics of 'Resilience for high impact low chance risks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this