Evaluate & mitigate risk

Combining data with infrastructure models to assess natural & manmade threats

Map of city

Sandia is a world leader in all-hazard risk analysis. Sandia's experience in evaluating threats (such as hurricanes, floods, droughts, and terrorist attacks), vulnerabilities, and consequences, coupled with expertise in critical infrastructure, can significantly enhance a city's resilience.

Sandia also has substantial experience in designing and facilitating table-top exercises with government officials to determine optimal risk mitigation strategies.

Cities can use risk assessments to uncover and address vulnerabilities in infrastructure, economy, and citizens' wellbeing. Risk assessments can also determine the likelihood that a specific bad event will occur and the consequences associated with it. Cities should use risk assessments as tools to derive the steps necessary to achieve resilience from disasters and attacks, and to evaluate the potential benefit of protective measures in order to inform investment and policy decisions.

One of the biggest challenges for cities is identifying goals and priorities across a diverse set of risks. If a coastal city is concerned about the risks posed by hurricanes, lack of security in city schools, and aging infrastructure, it may be difficult to determine how to allocate funding and resources effectively to address these risks.

Another challenge is that risk assessments often rely on data from past events to estimate the probability of future ones. It is difficult, however, to quantify the probability of an attack—such as the U.S. Oklahoma City bombing or 9/11 attack—since it often depends on unknown terrorist or criminal motivations.

Risk analysis presents cities with the opportunity to rigorously explore all hazards and generate useful data to inform decisions and help move toward resilience. Risk analysis can be performed at a holistic city level, for specific systems or infrastructures, or on critical city functions.

Risk assessment can also be a useful mechanism to increase the transparency of a city's assumptions and decision-making processes. If city officials and civic-minded groups agree about the most critical scenarios, city planners can expect a higher likelihood of success in gaining support for specific resilience strategies.

Sandia has extensive experience analyzing the risk associated with safety and security issues.

Security risk: Sandia is a world leader in security risk analysis. The components of risk are typically evaluated separately before assessing overall risk, and Sandia has expertise in evaluating threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences, as well as integrating these components to inform decision-making processes. Sandia risk expertise includes:

  • Conditional risk assessments performed for the U.S. Government's Biowatch Program and the Chemical Security Analysis Center
  • Sandia's framework for biosecurity, which has been implemented through its international engagement programs
  • Risk-informed Management of Enterprise Security (RIMES) methods, applicable in a variety of programs for asset protection

Safety risk: Sandia has supported a number of programs geared toward improving the safety of facilities and infrastructure. Examples of Sandia safety risk assessments that have informed decision makers include:

  • Analysis of strategies to reduce the risk of accidents in transportation systems (especially related to the transportation of valuable assets)
  • Analysis to predict the risk of influenza infection as it spreads through a population
  • Analysis to evaluate the safety benefits of alternative waste processing approaches
  • Analysis of the safety risk at nuclear reactor sites

Table-top exercises: Once risk has been assessed, Sandia uses proprietary tools to model different scenarios for disruptive events to help assess vulnerabilities and ultimately determine mitigation strategies. Sandia has substantial experience in designing and running table-top exercises that help cities determine the feasibility and practicality of potential mitigation strategies.