[LINK] Preparing to Prevent Disasters Online

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Wed Mar 9 13:34:38 AEDT 2011

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra where 
Apurva Sanghi, from the World Bank, is talking about their new book 
"Natural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters: The Economics of Effective 

Apurva Sanghi outlined how prevention and preparation could lower the 
overall cost and effects of disasters. However, he then played a video 
of the "SMART: Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel" project for Kuala 
Lumpur. This is a combined road tunnel and flood water channel. This 
seemed like such a spectacularly bad idea, that at first I thought it 
was a spoof. However, this appears to be a project with support of the 
World Bank which has been built and works: <http://www.smarttunnel.com.my/>.

Unfortunately the World Bank has chosen to restrict access to its 
report. This is ironic as in his presentation Apurva Sanghi urged 
governments to make publicly funded information publicly accessible. The 
World Bank is a publicly funded organisation but has chosen to use a 
copyright notice to prohibit copying of its report. It also chose to 
distribute the free online version in a very difficult to read format: 

I suggest the World Bank follow the example of the Australian Government 
and adopt a Creative Commons open access licence allowing copies of 
materials to be freely distributed 
and use accessible formats 

The World Bank could provide one web based accessible version. This 
would take a few hours work and immediately make the document available 
in most of the world's major languages via machine translation. Instead 
the World Bank with AUSAID resources is going to manually translate the 
report into other languages and produce paper copies distributed via 
governments and bookstores. This will take months or years and waste 
millions of dollars.

The Australian Prime minister is in Washington this week, talking to the 
World Bank and she might want to raise this issue.

     Description: Earthquakes, droughts, floods, and storms are natural 
hazards, but unnatural disasters are the deaths and damages that result 
from human acts of omission and commission. Every disaster is unique, 
but each exposes actions—by individuals and governments at different 
levels—that, had they been different, would have resulted in fewer 
deaths and less damage. Prevention is possible, and this book examines 
what it takes to do this cost-effectively.

     Natural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters looks at disasters primarily 
through an economic lens. Economists emphasize self-interest to explain 
how people choose the amount of prevention, insurance, and coping. But 
lenses can distort as well as sharpen images, so the book also draws 
from other disciplines: psychology to examine how people may misperceive 
risks, political science to understand voting patterns, and nutrition 
science to see how stunting in children after a disaster impairs 
cognitive abilities and productivity as adults much later. It asks not 
only the tough questions, but some unexpected ones as well: Should all 
disasters be prevented? Do disasters increase or decrease conflict? Does 
foreign aid help or hinder prevention? The answers are not obvious. 
Peering into the future, it finds that growing cities and a changing 
climate will shape the disaster prevention landscape. While it is 
cautious about the future, it is not alarmist. ...

Tom Worthington FACS CP HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, School of Computer Science, The
Australian National University http://cs.anu.edu.au/courses/COMP7310/
Visiting Scientist, CSIRO ICT Centre: http://bit.ly/csiro_ict_canberra

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