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Uncovering unlikely scenarios that have a potentially devastating effect on cities will be critical in developing effective mitigation strategies. Through the Dynamic Risk Assessment, we identified these ‘black swan’ events.

A rare combination of unexpected events

While strong linkages can help identify the likelihood of risks coming to fruition, weak links can help uncover scenarios which are unlikely to occur but pose disastrous consequences. These events are commonly referred to as ‘black swan’ events.

‘Black swan’ events include a rare combination of unexpected events or risks that can cause unprecedented adverse effects. Unfortunately, traditional risk identification models have not shown to be effective in determining these events due to their dependency on historic data and trend analysis. This gap poses a significant challenge in developing effective mitigation strategies, as ‘black swan’ scenarios require diligent mitigation strategies and monitoring.

Seven clusters and three new risks were identified as ‘black swan’ events for cities – failures in the pandemic health response; breakdown in critical supply chains; and acceleration of wider health concerns. While we have seen each of these risks play out across the globe in varying degrees, when one of these three risks join up with the clusters previously identified they significantly exacerbated the impact.

While understanding the collective impact of the clusters is critical, so is understanding which risks are most susceptive to being activated by changes occurring within the network. Find out which risks facing cities are most susceptible to being triggered as a result of COVID-19. Read the following article from this series: Which risks are cities most susceptible to?

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