Catastrophic Impact and Loss : The Capstone of Impact Assessment book cover
1st Edition

Catastrophic Impact and Loss
The Capstone of Impact Assessment

ISBN 9781466504646
Published October 25, 2012 by CRC Press
348 Pages 51 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The author’s previous work, Managing Emerging Risk: The Capstone of Preparedness considered the notion of risk and what constitutes risk assessment. It presented scenarios to introduce readers to areas of critical thinking around probability and possibility. Six months after the book’s publication, many of the scenarios came true, and other, more menacing risks emerged. Catastrophic Impact and Loss: The Capstone of Impact Assessment is the second stone to be laid in a path toward a more mindful practice of emergency management, focusing on the impacts caused by risk and offering a complete approach to measure and manage them.

Providing a true understanding of what it is to be "in harm’s way," this essential book details the devastation and effects that both public and private enterprise must be prepared for in the event of a catastrophe. The book examines:

  • Impact assessment as an essential piece of information and the fundamental flaws that hinder the process
  • The development of the digital age and postmodernism and the five guiding principles of postmodern impact assessments
  • How to establish an impact horizon and effect a clear scope statement that includes all in-scope and out-of-scope assets and locations
  • Problems that occur when we fail to create impact assessments that align with internal organizational values, federal and state laws, or industry regulations—and how to use the guiding principles to address these problems
  • Methods for developing solid analytical models for impact assessment—exacting logical, relevant, and clear language and taxonomies
  • How to address overrides and deviations based on expert opinion, cultural needs, and the application of common sense
  • Key challenges in postmodern business impact assessment and how we can best meet those challenges by understanding the concept of the uncanny valley

Readers who master the principles in this book will better understand the link between the potential damage of an event and how information informs every decision to prepare for, respond to, mitigate, and recover.

Table of Contents

The Postmodern Impact Assessment and Problems of the Mind
Overview: Risk and Impacts
Why Risk Assessments and Impact Assessments Are Different
Approaching the Impact Assessment
The Evolution of Impacts
Susie’s Lemonade Stand
A Fundamental Flaw
A Larger Problem
Reconsidering the Impact Analysis and Problems of the Mind
Objects and Critical Thinking: Apple, Cabinets of Curiosity, and a Dark Nostalgia
Objects in the Digital Age
Objects in Japan Today: A Different Worldview
Objects in the Age of Enlightenment
Applying Seba’s Curiosities to Impact Assessments
A Dark Nostalgia
Five Guiding Principles for Postmodern Impact Assessments
Overview: A Fundamental Flaw and the Five Guiding Principles
Looking Deeper at the Evolution of Impacts
The BP Oil Spill of 2010: A Postmodern Failure
Stakeholders in an Impact Assessment
Five Guiding Principles for Postmodern Impact Assessments
Understanding the Second Phase in an Emergency Management Program: Conducting a Potential Impact Assessment
The Second Phase—Five Guiding Principles for Postmodern Impact Assessments
Summary of the Five Principles of Potential Impacts Analysis
Revisiting: Postmodernism, Revolution, and the Public Sector
The First Principle: Establish the Impact Horizon
Overview: A Fundamental Flaw and the Impact Horizon
Taking a Wide-Angle View of Potential Impacts
Impacts and Criticality
The Impact Horizon and Public Perception
The Amazon Cloud Computing Outage of 2011
The Importance of Stakeholders and Establishing the Impact Horizon
The Business Continuity Perspective
The Emergency Management Perspective
The Counterterrorism Perspective
The Public/Private Impact Horizon—Mixed Impacts from the 2008 Financial Crisis
Delivering the Impact Horizon
The Second Principle: Align Impact Measures to Core Values
Overview: An Underlying Problem and the Alignment to Core Values
Postmodern Culture and the Importance of Messaging from the Core during a Crisis
Hurricane Katrina, August 2005: Off Message and Off Mission
The Joplin, Missouri, Tornado of 2011: Off Message and Off Mission
The Oslo Terror Attacks: On Message and On Mission
In the Private Sector—Core Values and Measurable Impacts
Delivering Alignment to Core Values
Why the Second Principle Matters
The Third Principle: Consider and Align National and State Laws and Industry Regulations
Overview: Addressing Underlying Problems with Federal and State Laws and Industry Regulation
The Third Principle and the Private Sector
Standards and Regulations
In the Business Arena
In Healthcare
New Orleans, August 23, 2005—Katrina
Know the Terrain
HIPAA 5010
The Dodd-Frank Act
Deliverables in Compliance with the Third Principle
Postmodern Culture: Legal Challenges and the Regulatory Climate
About Posse Comitatus
Why the Third Principle Matters
Taking a Second Look at the Third Principle
Hurricane Irene, 2011: A Case Study in Legal Action and Regulatory Response
Hurricane Irene—On Message
The Tale of Two Hurricanes—A Critical Comparison
The Backdrop—A Nation in Conflict over Freedom and Safety
Applying Resources to Irene Based on Potential Impacts While Following the Third Principle
A Thorny Problem
A Low-Profile, Highly Tactical Response
Negative Public Perception
Changes in the Military Structure
In Summary: Irene and Other Impacts
The Fourth Principle: Apply Rigorous Data
Overview: Applying the Second and Third Principles and Creating a Range of Criticality Values Based on a Logical Order and a Common Taxonomy
The Impact Assessment as a Business Case
Establishing Ranges of Criticality Values Using Logic and the Weighted Scores
Getting Started with Data Normalization in the Weighted Criticality Score Values
The Range of Criticality Score Values and the Placement of Objects in the Range
Create a Range of Criticality
Apply the Weighted Score to Individual Objects
Applying Common Logic
Core Objects and Metadata
Applying a Common Taxonomy
A Proposed Taxonomy Framework
Using Big Data to Create Ranges of Criticality—A Better Approach
Generating the Weighted Score and Ranges of Criticality with Big Data
The Set of Objects as Big Data
What Is an Object, and How to Determine Criticality Based on the Conjunction of Expert Interviews and Big Data
Back to the Weighted Score and the Rigorous Application of Data
Creating a Range of Criticality Based on Big Data
The Fifth Principle: Document Deviations and Overrides
Overview: Documented Deviations and Overrides
Why Deviations and Overrides Occur
Personal Biases
Expert Opinion
Cultural Issues
International Law
Cultural Perspectives: India
Cultural Perspectives: Japan
Cultural Perspectives: Israel
International Finance
Into the Uncanny Valley
Overview: Potential Impact Assessments and Realism
A Larger Problem
The Clear Choice during Turbulent Times
The Choice
The Uncanny Valley
Studies in the Uncanny Valley
The Otaku’s Curation of the Uncanny
The 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake
The Unexpected Impact—A Sea of Debris
Insurrections and Earthquakes
The Ethical Choices We Must Make
Shepherding the Organization through the Uncanny Valley

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Kevin D. Burton has been an active practitioner of the business continuity and disaster recovery disciplines since 1994. As a senior consultant at one of the "big two" disaster recovery consultancies, he had the responsibility of servicing the unique needs of e-businesses and highly mature n-tiered application architecture frameworks in the late 1990s. During this period, his clients included May Company Stores, Cattelus Corporation, Sun America Financial,, Dole Foods, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), and PeopleSoft.


"The methodologies offered in this book are sound concepts based upon fundamental risk management principles expanded to take into account the evolving global interdependences of the digital age."
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