Quantitative Risk and Transportation Asset Management


Quantitative Risk and Transportation Asset Management  

Throughout the U.S., there is an increased level of risk awareness in all aspects of decision-making. Specific to transportation asset management (TAM) practices, transportation agencies are faced with many challenges to properly account for aging assets, natural hazards, social injustice, and public safety and health to ensure that the transportation system remains resilient and supports the economy. These challenges have been magnified by recent events including the destruction from Hurricane Sandy, disruptions to the global supply because of the ongoing pandemic, and environmental and social justice cases involving our most disadvantaged populations. These events are reshaping our common understanding and thinking about how to best enhance and integrate our risk assessment practices to ensure that transportation assets are properly maintained and support the growing economy in a responsible and equitable manner. Since these risks are often hard to model and predict, additional guidance and tools are needed to support the inclusion of these considerations in transportation agency TAM practices. 

Over the past decade, there has been a concerted effort by agencies and the research community to develop techniques and methodologies for assessing different types of risk in many contexts. This includes the development of new data collection, network-level analysis, and improved dissemination of information. For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Risk Index for Natural Hazards (NRI) analyzes eighteen natural hazards (e.g., hurricanes, tornadoes, winter weather) and computes natural hazard exposure, frequency, historic loss ratio, expected annual loss, risk scores, and ratings for each hazard in each county and Census tract in the U.S. The risk methodology includes three components: a natural hazard component (expected annual loss), a consequence-enhancing component (social vulnerability), and a consequence-reduction component (community resilience). While guidance for incorporating natural hazards into transportation planning exists (e.g., NCHRP Report 931: A Guide to Emergency Management at State Transportation Agencies), specialized quantitative techniques are needed to consistently, and correctly, integrate and apply this information in concert with other important risk factors. If done correctly, this helps support the types of decisions that are most often made as part of TAM including whether to invest in preventive mitigation measures or maintenance to extend the useful life of transportation assets. 

FACTOR specializes in quantitative risk assessment and can help your organization apply and implement these techniques in your organization’s TAM processes and procedures. For more information contact FACTOR today.  

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