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On the Complex Quantification of Risk: Systems‐Based Perspective on Terrorism

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This article highlights the complexity of the quantification of the multidimensional risk function, develops five systems‐based premises on quantifying the risk of terrorism to a threatened system, and advocates the quantification of vulnerability and resilience through the states of the system. The five premises are: (i) There exists interdependence between a specific threat to a system by terrorist networks and the states of the targeted system, as represented through the system's vulnerability, resilience, and criticality‐impact. (ii) A specific threat, its probability, its timing, the states of the targeted system, and the probability of consequences can be interdependent. (iii) The two questions in the risk assessment process: “What is the likelihood?” and “What are the consequences?” can be interdependent. (iv) Risk management policy options can reduce both the likelihood of a threat to a targeted system and the associated likelihood of consequences by changing the states (including both vulnerability and resilience) of the system. (v) The quantification of risk to a vulnerable system from a specific threat must be built on a systemic and repeatable modeling process, by recognizing that the states of the system constitute an essential step to construct quantitative metrics of the consequences based on intelligence gathering, expert evidence, and other qualitative information. The fact that the states of all systems are functions of time (among other variables) makes the time frame pivotal in each component of the process of risk assessment, management, and communication. Thus, risk to a system, caused by an initiating event (e.g., a threat) is a multidimensional function of the specific threat, its probability and time frame, the states of the system (representing vulnerability and resilience), and the probabilistic multidimensional consequences.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-08-01

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