Terrorism, climate change, cyber attacks atop official Amsterdam risk assessment list

Terrorism, cyber attacks and climate change are new concerns on top of the official risk assessment for Amsterdam and its surrounding municipalities. Since the previous risk assessment in 2012, safety office Veiligheidsregio Amsterdam-Amstelland dropped a number of older concerns to make room for new risks like the consequences of a terrorist attacks, increasingly dangerous storms due to climate change and the internet falling out due to a cyber attack, Het Parool reports.

Terrorism is on top of the safety office's new risk assessment. "Preparing for this type of incident is important, especially considering the attractiveness of Amsterdam as a target", the assessment says, according to the newspaper. In addition to the physical consequences of a terrorist attack, the assessment also takes note of the uncertainty an attack creates among residents. A terrorist attack seriously affects the ultimate sense of security, and the safety office sees this as a serious concern. 

The risk analysis does not mention any concrete threats for a terrorist attack. For that the municipality and emergency services are in constant contact with the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security. 

Climate change is also an increasing risk. Storms and extreme rainfall due to climate change are a phenomenon that, according to the safety office, can not be denied and can not be ignored. Storms pose a significant risk because they are not preventable, and there is relatively short time before a storm hits to try and prepare for it.

The failure of the internet, data and IT systems climbed rapidly on the risk assessment, compared to 2012. Where the previous risk assessment only took account of these systems failing due to a fault, the new assessment also takes cyber attacks into account. According to the assessment, internet failure could cause large-scale disruptions to society. 

An additional problem related to internet failure, is that the emergency service can't solve the problem, unlike with an accident or fire. Internet problems must firstly be solved by the provider, but people still tend to call the emergency number 112 when the internet fails. "In such incidents, traditional emergency services are not the designated 'first responders', this role lies more with the managers of the vital infrastructure. But traditional emergency services can be confronted with the social impact", the safety office warns. 

Another new, but smaller risk on the assessment comes from the reduction in the number of nursing homes in the region. Older people now live longer in their own homes, which have less stringent fire safety requirements than nursing homes. And since elderly people find it harder to run out of the house, the risk of victims in a fire increases.

Other problems disappeared from the list. In 2012 building foundations sinking due to construction works, such as the construction of the Noord-Zuid subway line, was a real problem. In 2017 it does not appear on the assessment. And in that year the outbreak of an infectious disease was more threatening, with the Mexican flu outbreak of five years ago still fresh in everyone's memory. But since then the problem was given a great deal of attention, and thereby the risk reduced.