A recently released report – Resilience Sydney, identified a series of risks in two categories that may face the harbour city. Resilience was described by the City of Sydney as “urban resilience as the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks it experiences.”
Chronic stresses: weaken the fabric of a city on a day-to-day or cyclical basis. Examples include ongoing issues such as inequality, lack of social cohesion and inadequate public transport. Acute shocks: are sudden, sharp events that threaten a city. Examples include sudden incidents such as heatwaves, bushfires, floods, disease outbreaks and terror attacks.
The eight major items included on the acute list are:
1. Extreme Weather;
2. Failures of large financial institutions
3. Infrastructure Fails, especially power outages
4. Disease Pandemics
5. Water Crisis – either with too much OR too little water
6. Digital Network Failures
7. Cyber attacks
8. Terror attacks.
While chronic stresses included:
1. Increasing demand on health services
2. Diminishing social cohesion
3. Loss of housing affordability
4. Increasing chronic illnesses
5. Lack of transport diversity
6. Insufficient employment diversity
7. Increasing geographic inequity
8. Rise in drug and alcohol abuse
The stresses and scenarios took into account typography, services and specific issues that affect Sydney, but arguably some of these items identified would be applied to any major metropolitan city.
Challenges specifically facing Sydney also included the effects of climate change, where changes to the land, flood and fire could have an immediate and then lasting effect. The public interviewed as part of the study saw terror in the form of attacks and the increase in cyber attacks as a major concern in the future, and some of the chronic stresses, like social cohesion and the demand on health services, can impact on the ability for a city to be resilient in an acute situation.
When creating risk plans, consideration for the specific environment is an important control factor, the location of an event or plan for an organisation might need to consider the access to services, and possibility of attacks or failures that are specific to the location.