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New technologies for risk management: a geographical perspective

The magazine Territoire en Mouvement is launching a call for articles questioning the use of new technologies for territorial risk management. More specifically, we are looking for articles that take a critical (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats), geographical (spatial and territorial consequences linked to the use of these new tools) and/or epistemological view of these innovations.

1. A paradigm shift

Risk management methods are undergoing profound change worldwide, in a context of global change (Nobert & Rebotier, 2022). The impact of climate change on the frequency and intensity of hydroclimatic hazards and the massive use of digital technologies as new modes of communication have necessitated an adaptation of the way in which risks are managed in territories. In this context, the use of new technologies has gradually emerged as a preferred solution for managers, who see it as an attempt to adapt to an increasingly uncertain environment. Here, the term "new technology" refers to any system, tool or method based on information and communication technologies, providing new skills for managing risk in a given area. These may be digital technologies (tools, sensors, applications, etc.) for measurement and/or communication purposes. They may involve new methodologies (artificial intelligence, agent-based models, neural networks, etc.) to better predict phenomena and decisions. It may also involve territorial systemic reorganizations (safe city, safe territory, citizen-sensors, early warning systems) to improve efficiency in forecasting, warning and crisis organization.

2. The benefits and limitations of new technologies for localized risk management

Numerous scientific works have studied the contributions of new technologies for risk management, particularly because they can play a role in the entire risk management cycle: monitoring, crisis management, reconstruction, prevention (Izumi et al., 2019). These technologies are plural and are characterized by their ability to detect/measure a phenomenon and/or transmit information, or even a profusion of information (Akter & Wamba, 2019). In this way, they broaden the range of ways of dealing with risks, while modernizing the way we communicate with citizens (Kaur et al., 2022).

The benefits of these tools for localized risk management are manifold, at all levels of the management cycle: 1) upstream of disasters, real-time observation tools (sensors, satellites) enable early detection of destructive phenomena and anticipation of their effects (e.g. early warning systems); 2) during the crisis, multiple communications tools enable exchange between different players (social networks, cell phone alert tools, mobile applications, internet of things, etc.); 3) in the post-disaster period, damage assessment can call on real-time visualization tools (satellites, drones, citizen sensors, etc.), and methods such as artificial intelligence can be used to assess damage. ); 3) in the post-disaster period, damage assessment can call on real-time visualization tools (satellites, drones, citizen sensors, etc.), and methods such as artificial intelligence can be mobilized to prioritize reconstruction actions; 4) beyond disasters, new tools and methods aim to reinforce risk awareness among citizens and risk stakeholders (real-time mapping, 3D simulation, augmented/virtual reality, etc.). Outside this timeframe, innovative territorial systems are also emerging. The ultimate example is the development of safe cities (Risdiana & Susanto, 2019), where citizen safety is based on an organization centered around digital information, captured by a wide variety of sensors, which emit a profusion of data (big data), the abstraction of which relies on complex processing (artificial intelligence, data mining) and visualization methods (digital twins, interactive mapping).

Engineering approaches to these innovations have led to a profusion of scientific literature emphasizing their benefits and minimizing their limitations. However, these innovations have a number of limitations. One aspect often raised is the cybersecurity aspect arising from the risk of data piracy and functional hijacking of tools (Panda & Bower, 2020). The vulnerability of these digital innovations to disasters (dependence on energy and telecommunications networks) is also mentioned. We also note the emergence of new socio-spatial inequalities in the use and benefit of these tools (Northern vs Southern, urban vs rural, integrated vs marginalized, connected vs illectronic). While many studies emphasize the participatory benefits of these digital innovations, others note that the use of these tools remains generally top-down within territories, and does not reverse hierarchies or the direction of communications (AlHinai, 2020), or even give rise to new conflicts (Beaumais, 2023). In the field of warning, innovations are no substitute for decision-making, which remains essentially human, apart from certain very specific early warning systems (Bopp, 2021). Finally, the real effectiveness of these innovations in reducing the negative consequences of disasters is questioned (Girotto et al., 2024) in response to "technological solutionism" (Sætra, 2023).

3. The geographer's interest in these innovations

Thanks to their ability to spatialize multi-dimensional issues, geographers have an interest in taking a critical and constructive look at these innovations. Firstly, these innovations are very rarely studied from a spatial angle, which leads to a lack of understanding of the spatial effects induced, particularly by the managers who use them (Bopp, 2021). For example, the spatial inequality and inaccuracy of warning technologies based on the location of individuals have been measured (Bopp et al., 2023; Bopp & Douvinet, 2020). Secondly, because of their position at the interface of multi-dimensional issues affecting territories, geographers are able to take a global view of these solutions, and their territorial, spatial, social, environmental, political, economic and other effects. In so doing, the geographer can adopt a truly critical approach to these innovations. Interdisciplinarity is also a lever for enriching this holistic and critical approach to technological innovations for risk management (Douvinet et al., 2023).

4. Clarification of expected papers

Any article studying the use of new technology for risk management will be considered. This call for papers proposes a deliberately broad definition of the term "new technologies" (cf. section 1). This is so as not to exclude solutions that are not recent innovations from a purely technical point of view, but whose recent integration into risk management policies constitutes a change in practices and therefore an innovation. There is thus a temporal plasticity to what is "new" as long as the use of the technology imposes a change in practices or even a paradigm shift. By way of example, cell broadcast for alerting populations was invented in 1998, but has only been in use in France since 2022, and thus constitutes an innovation that overturns previously established crisis management practices.

We particularly welcome articles that examine new technologies from a geographical, critical and/or epistemological perspective. There is currently a lack of hindsight on these innovations, and their analysis could involve comparative temporal (diachronic study) or spatial approaches (study territory vs. control territory). Articles can be innovation-centric, i.e. presenting the innovation, its potential, its limits and its possible integration (case study). But articles can also be focused on the territory(ies), society and risk governance, studying the ways in which one or more innovations have been integrated, the consequences (positive and negative) and the outlook (Bopp & Douvinet, 2022). This second option authorizes macro-scale studies. Articles can deal with any type of hazard (environmental, technological, health-related) in a single- or multi-hazard approach. Articles addressing the issue of new technologies for risk management from an epistemological angle will also be considered.

Calendar

Deadline for submissions: end of September 2024
Provisional publication date: 2nd half of 2025

Contact

Esteban Bopp
Maître de Conférences en géographie
Université de Lille – Cité Scientifique
ULR 4477 – Territoires, villes, environnement et société
Avenue Paul Langevin
59 655 Villeneuve d’Ascq cedex
esteban.bopp@univ-lille.fr

Bibliographie

Akter, S., & Wamba, S. F. (2019). Big data and disaster management: A systematic review and agenda for future research. Annals of Operations Research, 283(1), 939959. https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.1007/s10479-017-2584-2

AlHinai, Y. S. (2020). Disaster management digitally transformed: Exploring the impact and key determinants from the UK national disaster management experience. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 51, 101851. https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2020.101851

Beaumais, L. (2023). Les systèmes d’alerte précoce ou l’illusion de l’objectivation. Cités, 95(3), 83‑96. https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.3917/cite.095.0083

Bopp, E. (2021). Évaluation et spatialisation du potentiel offert par les moyens d’alerte centrés sur la localisation des individus. Expérimentations à différentes échelles en France. Thèses, Avignon Université. https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/tel-03266846

Bopp, E., & Douvinet, J. (2020). Spatial performance of location-based alerts in France. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 50, 101909. https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2020.101909

Bopp, E., & Douvinet, J. (2022). Alerting people prioritising territories over technologies. A design framework for local decision makers in France. Applied Geography, 146, 102769. https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.1016/j.apgeog.2022.102769

Bopp, E., Douvinet, J., Carles, N., Foulquier, P., & Péroche, M. (2023). Spatial (in)accuracy of cell broadcast alerts in urban context: Feedback from the April 2023 Cannes tsunami trial. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 107, 102055. https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.1016/j.compenvurbsys.2023.102055

Douvinet, J., Bopp, E., Vignal, M., Foulquier, P., César, A. (2023). Quand la recherche accompagne les acteurs de l’alerte institutionnelle en France : entre science, expertise et médiation. Annales de Géographie 2023/5, pp. 41-63. https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.3917/ag.753.0041

Girotto, C. D., Piadeh, F., Bkhtiari, V., Behzadian, K., Chen, A. S., Campos, L. C., & Zolgharni, M. (2024). A critical review of digital technology innovations for early warning of water-related disease outbreaks associated with climatic hazards. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 100, 104151. https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2023.104151

Izumi, T., Shaw, R., Djalante, R., Ishiwatari, M., & Komino, T. (2019). Disaster risk reduction and innovations. Progress in Disaster Science, 2, 100033. https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.1016/j.pdisas.2019.100033

Kaur, M., Kaur, P. D., & Sood, S. K. (2022). ICT in disaster management context: A descriptive and critical review. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 29(57), 8679686814. https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.1007/s11356-022-21475-5

Nobert, S., & Rebotier, J. (2022). Le risque à l’ère des changements globaux (p. 197). Presses de l’Université de Montréal. https://univ-pau.hal.science/hal-03708290

Panda, A., & Bower, A. (2020). Cyber security and the disaster resilience framework. International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, 11(4), 507518. https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.1108/IJDRBE-07-2019-0046

Risdiana, D. M., & Susanto, T. D. (2019). The Safe City: Conceptual Model Development - A Systematic Literature Review. Procedia Computer Science, 161, 291299. https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.1016/j.procs.2019.11.126

Sætra, H. S. (2023). Technology and Sustainable Development: The Promise and Pitfalls of Techno-Solutionism (1re éd.). Routledge. https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.1201/9781003325086.

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