Transdisciplinary Platform for Risk Knowledge (TPRK) and Its Deployment Strategies - Towards Structuralization of Common Knowledge in the Risk Society -/CRDS-FY2013-SP-02
Executive Summary

This proposal addresses the development of an interdisciplinary common format for the potential and combined risks that might have a serious impact on society; in general, we call them “systemic risks.” The proposal also discusses a knowledge platform and its management system for the integration of the knowledge of risk.

Currently, people are exposed to various risks, including natural disasters, accidents, pandemics, financial crisis, and cyber attacks. For each individual risk, the possibility, reason for the incident, impact induced, and the measures for prevention thereof are studied in each specific field. Actually, however, the situations where the measures become one step behind, despite the various disasters that occur frequently, are repeated. In the 4th Science and Technology Basic Plan in FY 2011, they pointed out the flaws inherent in the risk management and crisis management in Japan. Neverheless, compared with major foreign countries, there are no unified organizations to manage and control systemic risks hard to prior investigations in Japan.
Mutual connections and causal relationships exist among various risks. If we successfully extract underlying common structures from them and establish general methodologies for dealing with risks, we are also able to deal with potential risks by using such general methodologies. For this purpose, it is necessary to grasp each specific risk study as a system component and to understand the overall structure of combined individual risks as a total system. As a start point, technical terms used in risk studies must be commonly unified, integrated risk khowledge bases are developed, then a risk management institution must be established.

The concept of risk is defined, in general, by the combination of the likelihood of occurrence and its negative effect. Regarding the systemic risk that has a significant impact on socio-economic systems, it is difficult to accurately estimate the likelihood and to fairly evaluate the negative effects due to the human cognitive bias. This point gives rise to obstacles in dealing with risks. In addition, since it is not possible to see through the systemic risk with an independent single principle, measures will be required where complicated interactions among various fields are taken into consideration.

On the other hand, Japanese academic societies have accumulated a vast number of risk studies, including the environment, medical care, finance, and networking. However, owing to the different meanings of the major concepts in each field, the outcomes in those studies have not been utilized in an effective way. We must build a system, which 1) puts the risk concepts in each field in a common way, 2) deals with the practical risks in a society, and 3) translates data and knowledge among the fields. Furthermore, we also must disseminate the products of the latest studies in reliability engineering, risk sciences, and resilience engineering to the other research fields.

Therefore, the problems to be solved in recent research and development on risks are summarized in the following three items:
1) Individual risk studies are isolated and have no relationship to each other;
2) Risk studies require new methodologies to analyze potential or implicit risks;
3) A total support scheme must be established to collect, maintain, and manage the information on systemic risks.

Regarding Item 1), the information systems usable by experts in the respective fields are required; regarding Item 2), a platform for transdisciplinary studies are required; and regarding Item 3), an integrative risk management organization is required.

We propose in this report “Transdisciplinary Platform for Risk Knowledge; TPRK” shown in Figure 1. The development of TPRK requires the following three phases. Phase 1: Build the platform as a total information system; phase 2: Store and link together the results of each research field; and phase 3: Keep TPRK operational and manageable for a long time. In addition, an authorized organization must manage the risk concepts and analyze the scenarios regarding the potential and combined risks on the platform. For details of the above-stated three phases on the TPRK development, refer to the progress report CRDS-FY2013-XR-03.

The social effects of the use of TPRK will include the following five points:
1) Identification of relationships of potential and combined risks in the preparation of science and technology policy related to risk management and crisis management, as well as scenario analysis for preventing the expansion of risk;
2) Measurement of transdisciplinary risks and prediction of the range of propagation of risk events;
3) Support for risk assessment activities based on scientific evidences in each field and the provision of risk information;
4) Dissemination of literacy related to potential and combined risks among citizens; and
5) Establishment of risk management policies in Japan by the risk management organization.