Exploring Issues Limiting the Use of Knowledge in Disaster Risk Reduction.

  • John Norton Development Workshop France
  • Funda Atun Politecnico of Milan, Department of Architecture and Urban Studies (DASIU)
  • Miranda Dandoulaki Harokopio University, Department of Geography
Keywords: Disaster Risk Reduction, Knowledge, Communication, Smart Cities, Civil Society.


This paper highlights issues that appear to have hampered the development and use of knowledge and discusses what these imply for applying (or not) the concept of smart cities in different contexts. The conclusions are based on the findings of four sets of work in the context of the KNOW-4-DRR project. From the findings of these activities, it emerges that although there are differences in context, risk and culture, there is a surprising degree of commonality in opinions about why there is insufficient development and application of knowledge for disaster risk reduction, despite the large volumes of information developed on this subject. As regards ICTs, findings suggest that technology, although useful, is not the sole solution for knowledge- based decision making for DRR. In this respect the benefits of smartness in cities are uncertain and depend on the context, where the employment of simpler or more traditional means can be more appropriate for enabling knowledge.  

A final conclusion is that no matter how useful, knowledge itself is not a panacea for DRR. Decision-making is invariably influenced by conflicting priorities, objectives and constraints, and not necessarily in all stakeholders’ interests or even reflecting their objectives. For example in the midst of the Greek economic crisis, disaster risk awareness and acceptability are becoming less a matter of DRR information and knowledge and must rather be addressed with a view to the new hierarchy of risks (socio-economic, health, emerging) generated by the crisis. However, acknowledging the complexity of the issue should not stand in the way of much needed efforts towards enabling knowledge for DRR with all the tools available in today’s changing world.



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Author Biographies

John Norton, Development Workshop France
President, Development Workshop France (French NGO) specialising in human settlements development problems in less developed countries; masters in Architecture (DIP.AA). Director and co-founder in 1973 of 'Human Settlements Development Workshop’. John Norton has a principle role in policy, strategy and programme development, project organisation and implementation and management of interdisciplinary teams over 40 years in SE Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Programmes include disaster risk reduction & hazard impact mitigation; environmental and energy resources management; rehabilitation and revitalization of communities, including educational facilities; rural and urban planning; income generation, particularly with women; capacity building & training at grass roots and professional levels; promotion of the use of local resources and skill development, and the strengthening of interaction between civil society and local authorities. As well as developing capacities in communities to address emerging issues and rapid changes, he has worked on EU FP7 research including the KNOW-4-DRR project, the EU/Mexico Foncicyt Risk and Vulnerability Network, and has published widely on all aspects of his work.
Funda Atun, Politecnico of Milan, Department of Architecture and Urban Studies (DASIU)
PhD in Spatial Planning and Urban Development from Politecnico di Milano (2013). She is currently a research fellow at Politecnico di Milano in a Horizon 2020 Project, named EDUCEN: European Disasters in Urban centres: a Culture Expert Network (Cities,Cultures, Catastrophes). In addition to being the author and co-author of several articles/book contributions, she is the author of the book called "Improving Societal Resilience to Disasters. A case study of London's Transportation system". Her research interest includes disaster risk management, earthquake risk assessment, flood risk assessment, land use planning, transportation systems prone to disasters and complex system approaches.
Miranda Dandoulaki, Harokopio University, Department of Geography

She is practiced in disaster risk reduction and disaster management. She has studied civil engineering (NTUA 1981). She holds an MSc in regional development (Panteion University 1988) and a PhD in urban planning (NTUA 2008), both relating with earthquake protection. She has worked for Earthquake Planning and Protection Organization of Greece (1994-2002) and has served as Vice Director of the European Centre for the Prevention and Forecasting of Earthquakes of Hazards Major Hazards Agreement of CoE. In the years 2004-2008 she was employed as a scientific officer in the Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen of EC/Joint Research Centre in the field of security of critical infrastructure. She is currently appointed by the Greek National School of Public Administration as studies and research officer. She has considerable field experience in disaster management and has acted as a consultant to local authorities. She has research experience and has published in books and scientific journals. 


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How to Cite
Norton, J., Atun, F., & Dandoulaki, M. (2015). Exploring Issues Limiting the Use of Knowledge in Disaster Risk Reduction. Tema - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 135-154. https://doi.org/10.6092/1970-9870/3032