Man-made Hazards

Within the project "CEDIM – Risk Map Germany – Man-made Hazards", it is intended to develop methods for assessing and mapping the risk due to different human-induced hazards of which two general types can be distinguished:

1. Accidental hazards stemming from technical, human or organisational failures,
2. Malicious, hence hardly predictable acts of (groups of) persons, especially terrorism.

Regarding the results published, a focus has been set on the risk of human life and health due to nuclear power plants, air traffic and terrorism events at mass gatherings.

Terrorist attacks, Madrid 2004

Project description

Research Team

The Man-Made Hazards research group is a multidisciplinary team with scientific backgrounds in business management (especially risk management and insurance), economical engineering, geographics, informatics and mathematics. Students of economical engineering are invited to contribute to the research during project-related seminars.

Types of Hazards Investigated

Two types of Man-Made Hazards can be differentiated:

  1. Accidents (which are) induced by technical, human or organisational failures.
  2. Malicious actions of persons or groups. Terrorist acts are the main research focus. 

As these two general forms are very different, methodologies for risk assessment and mapping have to be distinguished accordingly.

Accidental hazards

The methodology consists of the following work packages:

  • Statistical analysis of past accidents as a basis for probabilistic risk assessment

Incident statistics of German nuclear power plants

  • Evaluation of historical case studies and self-generated scenarios used as a supplementary deterministic approach (of risk assessment)
  • Definition of appropriate intensity parameters and vulnerability indicators for each singular peril
  • Development of an inventory of Critical Infrastructures as sources of risk (geographical location, hazard potential)

Inventory of Critical Infrastructure – air traffic

  • Integrated risk assessment by overlaying the information on Critical Infrastructures with information on exposed persons/asset values and their vulnerabilities

Risk assessment for nuclear power plants Neckarwestheim, Obrigheim

Hazards considered so far include traffic disasters of railroad, road and air traffic as well as industrial accidents with releases of hazardous materials and explosions in process industries and nuclear power plants.

Malicious actions

Work packages:

  • Statistical analysis using data bases of terrorist attacks
  • Threat analysis with respect to different types of terrorist perpetrators

Terrorism – threat analysis und scenario building for attacks

  • Expert appraisal of attack scenarios including the detailed estimation of damaging effects of singular scenarios with high statistical probability
  • Building up an inventory of Critical infrastructure as potential targets of attacks (geographical location, structural vulnerability as well as terrorist attraction)

Embassies at Berlin as potential terrorist targets

  • Integrated risk assessment by overlaying information on Critical Infrastructure with information on damaging effects of attack scenarios on exposed people/assets nearby.

The research focuses both on conventional terrorism like attacks on embassies and the “new” kind of terrorism including soft targets like mass gatherings as, for instance, FIFA World Cups like the 2006 event in Germany.

A detailed description of the methodology used and partial results of this research (on the risk of air traffic, nuclear power plants and terrorist attacks at mass gatherings) can be found in Borst et al., 2006 (


  • Thomann, C. (2003): Pool Re: Versicherung von Terrorrisiken in Großbritannien, Band 20 Hannoveraner Reihe, Karlsruhe.
  • Benzin, A. (2005): Versicherungstechnische Bewertung unterschiedlicher Deckungskonzepte für Terrorismusrisiken, Karlsruher Reihe II - Risikoforschung und Versicherungsmanagement Band 4, Karlsruhe.


D. Borst, D. Jung, S. M. Murshed, and U. Werner (2006)   Development of a methodology to assess man-made risks in Germany   Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 6(5): 779-802.   » Link

Werner, U., Lechtenbörger, Ch. & D. Borst (2004)   Project Man-Made Hazards (CEDIM) - First Results.   In: Malzahn and Plapp (eds.): Disasters and Society - From Hazard Assessment to Risk Reduction, Berlin, S. 399-406.

Werner, U., Lechtenbörger, Ch. (2004)   Phänomen Terrorismus. Die institutionelle Bearbeitung dieser Bedrohung in Deutschland.   Homeland Security, 1 (2):16-22.