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EconoMe online risk assessment tool


The greater the extent of human activity in the Alps, the louder the call for protective action against natural hazards, such as avalanches and rockfalls. Absolute protection can never be afforded, however, not least because resources are limited. Planners must therefore seek to protect human life and property by making the best possible use of the available financial and personnel resources. In recent years, the SLF has contributed to the development of various online risk assessment tools. They facilitate an assessment of the risk posed by natural hazards and help to examine the effectiveness and economy of different protective measures. Jointly developed by a consortium consisting of GEOTEST AG, geoformer igp AG, Gutwein IT-Services and the SLF, these tools are based on the methodology that underpins the Swiss National Risk Concept for Natural Hazards (RIKO).


The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) engaged the forenamed consortium to develop the EconoMe tool. FOEN now uses the assessment tool to design appropriate protection projects where action needs to be taken against gravitational processes, including avalanches, debris flows and rockfalls. By analysing the balance between the costs and benefits of various protective measures, EconoMe facilitates an assessment of both their effectiveness (in reducing risk) and economy. Since 2008, the use of EconoMe to evaluate protection projects has been obligatory. One of the EconoMe development objectives was to originate a tool that was capable of comparing the projects it was assessing. The software therefore employs standardised scenarios and calculation factors that cannot be edited by the user. Access to EconoMe is restricted to authorised persons and institutions. This group of users can install an offline version on their own computers for practice purposes. The SLF assumed responsibility for the project's further development in 2013 and in 2015 the tool EconoMe-Railway was integrated into EconoMe.

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Unlike EconoMe, the EconoMe-Develop version gives the user the freedom to modify the assumptions and calculation factors of the risk assessment according to the circumstances that apply to a specific case. EconoMe-Develop is intended to support research and development activities. It was produced on behalf of PLANAT, the National Platform for Natural Hazards, as a software tool to accompany the RIKO code of practice. EconoMe-Develop provides several interfaces for importing and exporting data from and to external sources, e.g. geographic information systems. FOEN welcomes inquiries from individuals and institutions that wish to use this tool.

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EconoMe-Railway was developed specifically for the needs of railway operators. It enables them to analyse loss events that are typical for their industry. This online tool can also give consideration to the operating cost implications in the event of a line being closed, for example. EconoMe-Railway was developed on behalf of the national railway operator SBB, Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon-Bahn, Zentralbahn, Berner-Oberland-Bahn, Rhätische Bahn, Matterhorn-Gotthard-Bahn, FOEN and the Swiss Federal Office of Transport. Access is reserved for authorised persons and institutions.

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The Swiss Federal Roads Office commissioned the forenamed consortium to develop RoadRisk for the risks encountered on the national road network. Like the other EconoMe variants, RoadRisk is an online tool. It facilitates an evaluation of the risks that exist on defined sections of the road network and its infrastructure. RoadRisk provides interfaces for importing and exporting data from and to geographic information systems. Access is restricted to authorised persons and institutions.


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