The Science Application for Risk Reduction (SAFRR) Scenario Retrospective 2006–21

Scientific Investigations Report 2023-5011
By:  and 



The U.S. Geological Survey Science Application for Risk Reduction (SAFRR) Project has created four major hazard scenarios—ShakeOut, ARkStorm, Tsunami Scenario, and HayWired—with multidisciplinary teams of scientists, academics, and practitioners. By presenting a clear and highly detailed narrative of potential damage from earthquakes, tsunamis, and winter storms, the scenarios are intended to foster science-based preparedness strategies and disaster risk reduction innovations.

This evaluation explores the presence of these scenarios in cultures of preparedness and their role in disaster risk reduction, and reports barriers and enablers to creating and using these scenarios. To do this, the evaluation team developed a mixed-methods study that includes background research for each scenario, qualitative interviews, data collection of media and academic engagement, and examples of SAFRR scenario use in hazard planning. The data collection led to the development of a hazard scenario evaluation tool that combines theories from multiple disciplines to create a best practice set of categories that aid in scenario use and efficacy. The evaluation tool categories—actionable, longitudinal, educational, relevant, and thorough—are organized as a series of checklists that are used to determine how the scenario planners prioritized different aspects of the scenarios to achieve their goals. The tool could also be used to aid scenario planning for other regional disaster risk reduction scenarios of a similar scope.

Findings from this evaluation include detailed narratives of scenario use over time, demonstrating that the scenarios have continued to be useful in hazard planning and preparedness across the globe. Examples of use include using the scenarios to advocate for resilient building and development policy, to promote hazard response exercises, and as source data for the development of new hazard models and science. The scenarios themselves are innovative, both in the hazard science created for scenario development and in their branding and public engagement as U.S. Geological Survey products. This SAFFR retrospective is a descriptive evaluation and does not formally address the effects of the scenarios. Nevertheless, this report does include evidence of scenario affects as discovered through qualitative interviews and research, which is presented to explore how the SAFRR scenarios have been received by cultures of preparedness.

Suggested Citation

Smithhisler, N., and Burkardt, N., 2023, The Science Application for Risk Reduction (SAFRR) Scenario Retrospective 2006–21: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2023–5011, 116 p.,

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Introduction to the Science Application for Risk Reduction Scenarios
  • Evaluation Methods
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • Glossary
  • Appendix 1. Evaluation Methodology
  • Appendix 2. Retrospective of Science Application for Risk Reduction (SAFRR) Scenarios Use and Development
  • Appendix 3. Supplementary Findings
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title The Science Application for Risk Reduction (SAFRR) Scenario Retrospective 2006–21
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2023-5011
DOI 10.3133/sir20235011
Year Published 2023
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston VA
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description Report: viii, 116 p.; Program Agenda
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details