Research profile 1: Kevin Quigley

Kevin Quigley, School of Public Administration

Understanding and improving mass evacuations

People who are responsible for mass evacuations during natural disasters are confronted with significant challenges: they must allocate and coordinate limited resources in a dynamic context, often in degraded conditions, and their decisions are consequential, time-constrained and often irreversible.

Despite the risks that underpin these decisions and the real-world experience that exists in this domain, there is a dearth of study and knowledge concerning how those responsible for mass evacuation carry out their jobs, and how it might be generalized and improved. There is reason to be concerned. The increasing frequency with which mass evacuation occurs and the human, financial and environmental costs associated with it suggest that this field requires more urgent attention. Bureaucratic constraints and competing incentives frequently prevent a broad-based, multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach to understanding and addressing these risks.

This research project brings together a group of practitioners and scholars with expertise and experience in risk and evacuation. The project will be structured according to two interdisciplinary risk frameworks to allow us to examine the interplay between social context and risk characterization to determine the combined impact the two have on government risk regulation regimes. Contextual factors include dynamics such as the role of law and insurance, media and popular opinion, and the role of organized interests. Risk characterization distinguishes between those events, which are complex, uncertain and ambiguous.

Dalhousie co-investigators: Ahsan Habib and Ronald Pelot