Measuring losses

We study new ways to measure losses.

Satellite view of bright green Mississippi river and brown, blocky landscape
Mississippi River. Photo: USGS, Unsplash

The life-years index

The damages caused by disasters are typically measured by separately calculating the number of people killed, injured, or otherwise affected, along with the cost of associated material damage.

With the life-years index, we propose a new way to aggregate these measures of disaster impact together. This index is similar to the WHO’s calculation of Disability-Adjusted Life Years lost by disease. Our index includes an accounting of the human consequences of the destruction of infrastructure and other capital assets. We argue that, ethically, the value of human life should be considered as equal everywhere, whereas the value of monetary damages is not.

Find out more about our research on the life-years index.

A commercial building database

Through QuakeCoRE, our team is helping to create a new technology platform for information about commercial building in urban city centres. The work began in Wellington; the team is now expanding its work to include Palmerston North and Dunedin.

A national disaster loss database

With the Whakahura programme, the team is collecting comprehensive information on damages from historical disasters in New Zealand. We are collaborating with meteorology experts and with consideration for Vision Mātauranga.

Measurement of disaster risks internationally

In one project, our team focused on the measurement of tropical cyclone risk in the Philippines; in another, on storm surge risk in the small atoll island nation of Tuvalu.