How to protect your assets against acts of nature and terrorism

Chris Poland (President and CEO of Degenkolb Engineers, co‐Chair of National Earthquake Hazards Reduction, in Washington, DC, and a member of the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California, College of Fellows, 2003, the Seismological Society of America, and American Institute of Architects.)

Handbook of Business Strategy

ISSN: 1077-5730

Publication date: 1 December 2005


Millions of earthquakes occur each year throughout the world, according to The National Earthquake Information Center in the USA and its cooperators around the globe. Fortunately, most of them happen far away from highly industrialized population centers and cause little damage or disruption. But when they do occur in densely populated areas, the loss of human lives, destroyed buildings and infrastructures, and the interruption of normal life and commerce can be devastating to individuals, families, communities, businesses and governments. Companies now also need to consider, and plan for, the risk of damage to employees and property that may be caused by non‐natural causes, such as terrorist bombs. While there has been much talk about bio‐ and chemical‐terrorism, the fact remains that bombs are still the most commonly used weapon of terror worldwide. According to a US government report, entitled “Protecting Buildings from Bomb Damage,” nearly half of all international terrorist attacks are bombings. Few corporations are without risk these days just as few countries are free from random acts of terrorists’ violence. The threat of bombings is one more concern for corporations and building owners to factor into their analysis, assessment and planning for protecting their investment and building occupants. While designing a terrorist‐proof building is impossible, designing a building that will not progressively collapse when attacked, and will allow emergency workers quick access to survivors, is not. It’s a matter of designing and constructing buildings that will display predictable performance. The article discusses how building owners, corporate project teams and architects and engineers all can take measures to improve safety of occupants and contents of a building against potential blasts or explosions. There are three broad categories of countermeasures: deterrence, set back, and hardening.



Poland, C. (2005), "How to protect your assets against acts of nature and terrorism", Handbook of Business Strategy, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 31-34.

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