Risk Assessment of the California University Property

Risk assessment

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) model in risk assessment provides me with a tool for conducting a risk assessment of the property of the California University. The first step of threat assessment wherein the hazard or threat is identified, defined, and quantified i.e. rating of the threat. Threat identification step involved the use of threat or hazard vulnerability assessment which  enables me to develop a system wide Safety, Security and Anti-terrorist committee otherwise called the SSAT committee to fully assess the state of California University regarding the overall exposure to threats or hazards, security, and its ability to respond to physical threats or hazards like the human-caused tragic events, natural hazards like earthquakes, technological hazards as well as terrorism.

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With the SSAT, I therefore have the responsibility of creating a consistent as well as a comprehensive system approach framework that is geared towards the physical hazard identification.  Alongside the physical threat or hazard identification, I also find it easy to conduct the university risk assessment as well as the mitigation strategy development allowing for the California University flexibility and maintenance of its prior proper response to specific priorities and concerns.

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In order to realize the effective SSAT analysis, I facilitated a comprehensive Building Vulnerability Assessment (BVA) with a goal to conduct the University risk assessment and subsequently develop a system wide approach geared towards ranking of the risk or the threat events. Through this, I did identify the vulnerability of the university location and possible critical high valued facilities that were irreplaceable. In the BVA report, there were identified threats and hazards. Threats in this case can be explained as any evident indication, event or circumstance with a potential to be the cause or result to a damage or loss to an asset.

Hazards on the other hand are of categories; natural hazards are the natural events or circumstances such as wind, seismic disaster, flood among others. The cause of such events has to be natural. The identified natural threats subjected to the California University were catastrophic earthquakes and destructive high winds. Historical and quantitative data reveals the probabilities, durations, magnitude as well as the recurrence of these natural hazards. This makes there recurrence very predictable.  Human- caused also referred to as the manmade hazards refers to the technological hazards with terrorism inclusive in this category (Davies & Gurr, 1998). They refer to all those events that originate from human activity. Terrorism refers to the unlawful act of violence and force against individual people or properties to coerce the government to give in to selfish demands of a particular group.

The actions of terrorists include killing people or injuring their captives. In most cases they seek for publicity for their cause, political gain or even monetary gain for their destructions. California University can be a target of malicious attacks. There is however very scarce data on these possible manmade attacks. The magnitude as well as the recurrence of such malicious attacks in California University is barely predictable. California University can be subjected to domestic terrorism, which can be those domestic activities that involve dangerous acts to the students’ lives especially by bringing the university building down.

These are the activities that violate the United States laws and are geared towards the intimidation or coercion of the civilian population; the students as the staff personnel. The university can also be a subject to the domestic terrorism because of its big population especially the domestic terrorist activities with the objectives of influencing the policy of the United States government by mass destruction.

The university property building can be a subject to explosive blast weapons. The explosive design threat to a building can be defined using two distinct parameters.  The first parameter is the stand-off, which is the measure of the distance from the center of gravity to the component or property of interest. The second parameter is the weapon size; this is measured in equivalent pounds of trinitrotoluene. The building of the university should be supplied with adequate reinforcements to withstand severe damage that could lead to collapse resulting to loss of lives. United States is a nations with more than thousand annual explosions with most having weapon yields of 5 pounds or less. The smallest weapons but with greater impacts are normally subjected to the secured areas of the buildings like the university buildings.

Threat rating is done according to the likelihood of the threat occurring to the building.


Seven-level linguistic value

Numerical value

Catastrophic earth quakesMedium low4
Laboratory/ residential  building fireMedium5-6
Public health emergencyMedium high7
Crop eco- tourismMedium high7
High windsMedium low4
Truck bombMedium5-6
Sport event disturbanceMedium low4

In conducting the asset value assessment of the University building, I had to conduct a detailed and thorough planning and research to generate relevant questions that would aid the process since there was need for me to conduct an interview of the people around with relevant knowledge of the building. I did an extensive search for the inputs from the building owners, the facility staff of the building, the students residing in the building and other relevant people who proved to be of great help in assisting me identify the critically most valuable assets in the building. In my interview, I generated a list of specific areas to be covered which I prioritized prior to the interviews.

An asset requires protection since it is a resource of value. In the California universities, assets include the tangible buildings, equipment, facilities, activities as well as activities and operations.. Identifying these assets and prioritizing them provide the best mitigation measures in maximizing on their protection. The identification is done in two steps. The first step involves the definition and understanding of the building’s core processes and functions that are so basic for the building to be able to continue with its operations even after an attack. This first step will enable the design team to focus on what the building purposefully does, how it does it as well as how the various identified threats can affect the building.

The second step is the identification of the building infrastructure which involves the critical components of the building and information system and data. It also involves the security systems of the building as well as life safety systems of the building including the safe haven areas of the building. In every building, the most vital assets are the people, therefore in order to identify and assign value rank infrastructure, I had to consider the following; I had to identify the number of people who may be killed or injured during a direct terrorist attack to the building. I will find out what become of the building functions and services as well as the occupant satisfaction could a specific asset be lost or damaged? In this ill have to assess whether the primary functions will continue could a specific asset be lost or damaged, I will determine the effects or impact of asset’s lost or damage on the other building’s assets.

Finding out if any sensitive or critical information is handled or stored in the building and asses its value and whether these critical information have back-ups elsewhere is a very vital consideration. Assigning value to an asset is done after generating a list of a building’s asset requiring protection. Asset value refers to the degree or extent of debilitating impact that is most likely to be caused by the destruction or loss of the building’s asset. Assigning value requires a scale; I will use the seven-level linguistic scale supplemented by a numerical scale as it is the most commonly used by FEMA. In this type of scale, we values such as very high is assigned 10, high 8.9, medium high 7, medium 5.6, medium low 4, low and very low 1. In the California university a case whereby the loss or damage to an asset would exceptionally have grave repercussions such as a big loss of lives, extensive injuries and total loss of the building’s primary functions and processes would be valued very high.


Seven-level linguistic value

 Numeric value

Site Medium5
Electrical systemsMedium high7
Fire alarm systemsHigh8
Communication system (IT)Very high10
Mechanical systemsMedium high7
ArchitecturalMedium low4
Utility systemsMedium high7
Structural systemsVery high10
Plumbing systemMedium low4

After assigning value to the building’s asset, I did the input values to the critical site infrastructure and the functional critical site

In risk assessment, I will analyze the probability of occurrence of the threat since a risk refers to the potential for a loss or damage to an asset.Risk assessment is the analysis of the asset value and asset vulnerability to be sure of the level of the risk for each of the critical assets against each threat which is applicable. It is therefore a process that involves the preparation of the risk assessment matrices, establishment of the risk ratings and prioritizing the observations in the Building Assessment checklist. In the preparation of the risk assessment matrices, I derive the inputs from the first three steps. When estimating the risks, I will consider a number of factors like identification and rating of the threats that their occurrences can cause harm to the building and those within it, then the value asset and people that need protection. There is a need for an on-site meeting with the building’s key staff members (Hague et al 1984).

Preparing of the risk assessment matrix will involve the critical asset value of the California building. The asset value for a function in the California building will be the same for all the threats. The matrix in this case will help in identification of the functions in a quantitative form. Secondly, the critical infrastructure asset value; the asset value for a specific given infrastructure asset will be the same for all the threats. It is the economic replacement cost. This is followed by the critical threat rating, critical infrastructure threat rating, and critical vulnerability rating i.e.


Cyber attack

Suicide bomber



Threat rating8524
Vulnerability rating7898
Asset value4444
Threat rating5854
Asset value7777
Vulnerability rating6527

The next step is the determination of the risk ratings; this is done with a specific formula suggesting that to get risk, we find the product of the asset value, threat value and vulnerability rating. Getting the risk led me to the preparation of the risk estimation matrix. Which I can classify as a low 1-60, medium 61-175 and high which is any value greater than 176. Then I prepared the site functional and infrastructure pre-assessment screening matrix of the California building. With the help of the California university building’s field team I performed an on-site assessment and filled out observations in the California University building Vulnerability Assessment checklist which help me when prioritizing the observations. This is done so as to able to come up with the best mitigation measures to the building. In the checklist I had the site column, the vulnerability column, the guidance column and the observation column.

Consideration of the mitigation options, I performed the following activities; identification of the preliminary mitigation options that were geared towards reducing the risks like reinforcement of the university building with strong barriers for high winds, upholding the established building safety measures towards fire related risks. This process however, is all inclusive, the engineers, landscape architects, and other relevant technical personnel has to be included. The final decision about the kinds of mitigation measures to be implemented however resides with the building owner, the California University foundation personnel. Mitigating measures are however of different categories, there those aimed at delaying the attack, preventing and attack, mitigating the effect of an attack.

The identification of the preliminary mitigation measures of California University was best for the preventive mitigation measures. Reviewing the mitigation options it the second step. This is done from the preliminary list of mitigation options which are grouped under preventers, regulators, protection and control for the attacks to the University building (Cruden & Fell, 1997). I therefore determine among the list, the most feasible mitigation measures which I found out to be the preventative mitigation measures. For these measures to be acceptably implemented they require political and community support as well as the resources.

Therefore I must look at the political and communal implications of my established mitigation measures. For example, my proposed mitigation measures require initial construction of barriers to the most eminent attacks from high winds, a measure that would include high initial capital to realize good long term prevention effect to the attacks by strong winds as well as other natural catastrophic. Even though the finance required is high but compared to the long term benefits, it is worth it.

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