Disaster Management 2015

4th International Conference on Disaster Management and Human Health: Reducing Risk, Improving Outcomes


20 - 22 May 2015
Istanbul, Turkey


SAFE 2015

The fourth International Conference on Disaster Management and Human Health: Reducing Risk, Improving Outcomes, was held at the School of Architecture, Istanbul Technical University (ITU). The meeting was organised by Professors Sinan Mert Sener and Ozlem Ozcevik of ITU, and Professor Carlos A Brebbia of Wessex Institute (WIT), with the sponsorship of the Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).

Disaster Management 2015 follows the success of previous conferences, the first of them held in the New Forest, UK (home of the Wessex Institute); followed by others in the University of Central Florida, USA (2011); and La Coruña, Spain (2013). The meetings provide a forum for the interchange of knowledge and experience in how to respond to the increasing risk of natural and man-made disasters.

Current major earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and other natural phenomena have resulted in huge losses, in terms of human life and destruction of property. A new range of man-made disasters have affected humanity in modern times, terrorist activities have been added to more classical disasters, such as those due to the failure of industrial installations for instance.

It is important to understand the nature of these global risks to be able to develop strategies to prepare for those events and plan effective responses in terms of disaster management and the associated human health impacts.

 Opening of the Conference

The conference was opened by Prof Carlos A Brebbia, Director of the Wessex Institute and Co-Chair of the meeting. Carlos explained the importance of the conference series for WIT to fulfil its objective of acting as a medium for knowledge transfer. Other activities related to this aim are training, research, publications, as well as providing services to the engineering industry.

Computer codes based on WIT research advances are now regarded as design tools, particularly in mechanical, energy and aerospace engineering. The acceptability of these codes in practice validates the research work of the Institute.

Another important service provided by WIT is through the publication and dissemination of many books and journals, including the volume corresponding to this conference. This is a book of the WIT Transactions on the Built Environment (volume 150), which is widely distributed throughout the world in hard cover and digital format. All papers are also archived in the eLibrary of the Institute (www.witpress.com/elibrary) where they are easily accessible to the international community. Carlos ended his address by thanking the School of Architecture for their generosity in hosting the meeting in their beautifully restored XIX century building, originally a military establishment.

 Keynote Speakers

The keynote of the conference was given by Dr Fuad Oktay, Director of the Republic of Turkey Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).

Dr Oktay explained that “Turkey frequently faces disasters that lead to human, material, economic and environmental losses, interruption of social, economic and community life, adversely affecting development. Turkey is located in one of the most seismically active regions of the world. Besides earthquakes, all rural areas need to often consider natural hazards, mainly landslides, floods, rock falls, avalanches, that can lead to physical, social, economical and environmental vulnerabilities and turn to costly disasters.

Under these conditions, the Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) was established in 2009 as the coordinating agency to address all phases of disaster management in Turkey based on the suggestions of relevant major institutions as well as on the available scientific and practical knowledge of many years field experience, resources and technologies.

After the Van earthquake (2011,) the need for the development of an integrated natural disaster response plan became an increasingly primary item on the country’s agenda. New studies, approaches and plans on disaster management emerged, supported by advances in technology and increases in public awareness of disasters. Following detailed research on the types of events and response needs AFAD, together with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, initiated the establishment of a national disaster response plan to define basic principles of action, activities and institutional roles and responsibilities in anticipation of, during and after disasters or emergency situations. The plan was named as Turkey’s National Disaster Response Plan (TAMP) and put into effect upon official approval in 2014.

“TAMP, with its flexible, modular structure, is adaptable to all types and scales of hazards and enables effective planning of resources and the coordination of public, private institutions and non-governmental organisations in case of a disaster at local or national level to manage human and material loss.”

Dr Oktay’s remarks were very well received by the audience and set the tone for the conference.

 Invited Presentations

Other invited presentations were as follows:

“Concept of a community security center in the multi-hazard environment of a protected area in Bucharest, Romania”, by Cristina Olga Gociman, University of Architecture and Urban Design, Romania

“Seismic risk of three main health facilities in Mexico City”, by David Novelo-Casanova, Universidad Nacional de Mexico.

“Evaluating psychological preparedness for the threat and impacts of climate change disasters and its change after intervention: an integrated modelling approach”, by Yuri Pykh, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia.

 Conference Topics

The papers presented at the meeting were arranged in the following sessions:

  • Disaster analysis
  • Disaster modelling and mitigation
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Risk assessment and mitigation
  • Risk and security
  • Safety and resilience
  • Socio-economic issues
  • Case studies

 Conference Dinner

The conference banquet took place in a well-known restaurant located in an historical building, originally endowed to the poor Greek-Turkish citizens by a well-known family. It offered a series of local specialities from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds. It included a unique musical show which on this occasion consisted of a selection of Balkan songs led by a well-known singer. Some of the delegates were prepared to take the challenge and dance during the musical offerings. The drinks included some Turkish wines as well as the excellent local beers and, for those brave enough, a glass of the very strong raki. The whole evening was most friendly and gave the participants a taste of some delicious Turkish dishes.

The Scientific Advisory Committee meeting took place in a well-known restaurant. The discussion centred on the range of topics that the conference ought to cover, as well as proposing new members for the committee. The link between the conference and the International Journal of Safety and Security Engineering was also discussed and several proposals put forward. The next meeting to be held in 2017 will be in Europe and the WIT Conference Division will investigate possible locations.

A special technical visit was arranged at the end of the conference. The delegates were welcomed to the Istanbul Disaster Management Centre, part of AFAD network. A presentation was given at the Control Centre which has access to all modern communications. The whole complex has been built to be self-sufficient for at least 15 days and undertake the emergency response coordination. The complex has radio station facilities from where they can communicate with the mobiles of all parties involved, including those of the field units. An important function of the Centre is to raise the awareness of how to deal with emergencies and this is done through training programmes of different types and duration.

 Closing of the Conference

Carlos ended the conference by expressing his gratitude to the School of Architecture of Istanbul Technical University for having hosted the meetings, as well as to all participants for their support.

 Conference Proceedings

The proceedings of Disaster Management 2015 - Disaster Management and Human Health Risk IV, 360pp (Print ISBN: 978-1-84564-926-5; eISBN: 978-1-84564-927-2) are available from WIT Press. Orders can be placed on the WIT Press web site at www.witpress.com or by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., telephone: +44 (0) 238 029 3223 or fax: +44 (0) 238 029 2853.

Papers from the conference will also be hosted online at the WIT eLibrary in Volume 150 of WIT Transactions on the Built Environment (ISSN: 1746-4498 Digital ISSN: 1743-3509). For more details visit the WIT eLibrary at http://library.witpress.com

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