UBC Graduate Research

Vulnerable Populations: A Spatial Assessment Of Social Vulnerability to Earthquakes In Vancouver, British Columbia Fox, Jana Christine


Spatial assessment of social vulnerability is an expanding research area in the disaster and risk management field. Social vulnerability is an important factor in understanding and effectively planning for disaster events. Physical risk, another key component of vulnerability, has been extensively studied and in many cases is well understood by planners and emergency management personnel. While the physical components of disasters are fairly well understood, the knowledge of social vulnerability is lacking in many areas. This study works to understand and assess social vulnerability to earthquakes of Vancouver, British Columbia using two existing social vulnerability indexing models, the SoVI model developed by Susan Cutter (Cutter et al. 2003) and the Pareto Ranking model developed by Lisa Rygel (Rygel et al. 2006). Both methods will be used to analyze social vulnerability in Vancouver and the results compared and explained between the two models in order to create a more complete understanding of social vulnerability. This study reviews the relevant literature on social vulnerability indexes, specifically to define social vulnerability, review models, and identify social vulnerability indicators. The two chosen social vulnerability index models are then fully explained and used to analyze a set of base indicator data derived from the 2001 Census of Canada. The social vulnerability scores for each model are mapped at the census tract level. The resulting maps are then analyzed for significant differences between census tract scores from each method. Significant differences are then explained by looking at the underlying factors of vulnerability for that census tract. Potential planning uses of the data and further research possibilities are also discussed.

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