Urban Technological Risk Characterization and Management: Towards a Better Understanding of Non-Natural Threats in Merida City, Venezuela
Disaster Risk Management Research Centre (CIGIR), Network for Social Studies on Disasters Prevention in Latin-American (LaRED), Mérida, Venezuela
The past four decades has seen an increase in the destructive impact of human-originated and natural hazard disasters in industrial facilities. This illustrates the limited capacity for comprehensively estimating and responding to technological risk scenarios at all urban scales. Accidents, such as the chemical releases at Séveso (Italy) in 1976 and Bhopal (India) in 1984 and the 1992 gas explosion in Guadalajara (Mexico), have led national legislation for implementing strategies for countering and preparing for urban technological risks. Other accidents, however, suggest the need to understand that the inherent conflict between how we occupy urban space creates new needs for technological risk management methods that can be used by city planners and disaster/emergency management planners. Information and procedural gaps also exist in terms of citizen knowledge (the right to know) and local administrative knowledge (missing expertise). This paper illustrates that technological risk does occur in many areas of the city and is not isolated in just large industrial sites. Advances and experience accumulated by the Disaster Risk Management Research Center in identifying and integrating technological risk treatment for the city ofMérida, Venezuela are presented. The application of new tools and technologies in geospatially characterizing risk scenarios are presented. Strengthening of the institutional and community aspects of local urban risk scenario management is recommended.
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