Artificial neural networks for risk decision support in natural hazards: a case study of assessing the probability of house survival from bushfires

Keping Chen, Carol Jacobson, Russell Blong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Risk decision-making in natural hazards encompasses a plethora of environmental, socio-economic and management-related factors, and benefits greatly from exploring possible patterns and relations among these multivariate factors. Artificial neural networks, capable of general pattern classifications, are potentially well suited for risk decision support in natural hazards. This paper reports an example that assesses the risk patterns or probabilities of house survival from bushfires using artificial neural networks, with a simulation data set based on the empirical study by Wilson and Ferguson (Predicting the probability of house survival during bushfires, Journal of Environmental Management 23 (1986) 259-270). The aim of this study was to re-model and predict the relationship between risk patterns of house survival and a series of independent variables. Various configurations for input and output variables were tested using neural networks. An approach for converting linguistic terms into crisp numbers was used to incorporate linguistic variables into the quantitative neural network analysis. After a series of tests, results show that neural networks are capable of predicting risk patterns under all tested configurations of input and output variables, with a great deal of flexibility. Risk-based mathematical functions, be they linear or non-linear, can be re-modelled using neural networks. Finally, the paper concludes that the artificial neural networks serve as a promising risk decision support tool in natural hazards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-199
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Modeling and Assessment
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2004

Keywords

  • artificial neutral networks
  • natural hazards
  • r isk decision-making
  • bushfire
  • linguistic terms

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