How can decision makers in the development plan process better understand and address different risks and concerns?

Anna Ståhle Bofjäll, Greater Stockholms Fire and Rescue Service
Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety,  Faculty of Engineering, Lund University


Through good community planning we can prevent certain accidents entirely and increase the possibilities of managing the accidents that do happen. When designing detailed development plans, conditions are put in place for the building and these conditions can be the difference between a catastrophe or a successful rescue operation. When the municipal authority produces a detailed development plan they must take into consideration a number of different types of risks such as, flooding, the transport of dangerous goods, landslides, antagonistic threats, the handling of dangerous goods and the threat to critical infrastructure. The risks often have different characteristics, they are reviewed separately by different governing bodies and it is no easy task to decide how they should be managed or at what point the detailed development plan can be deemed as being ‘safe enough’. Furthermore, in many cases, the risks, or the measures which should reduce the risks, influence each other. These matters are of great importance to our society and the costs of bad risk management can be devastating, both in terms of people’s lives and money. 

What is the research about?

I want to study how the decision-makers in the development plan process can understand and manage the risks of a suggested detailed development plan when there are several different types of risks and concerns. The overall aim is to develop a method for the decision-makers and in doing so increase the possibilities of making well-balanced and conscious decisions. How can we continually work with risk management in mind throughout the whole planning process? And when all the expert opinions have been received, what should we then do with them?

Examples of research questions:

  • What does the decision-making situation look like? What problems and challenges does the decision-maker experience with regards to risk management?
  • How can the decision-maker manage the fact that different options and risk-reducing measures can influence each other negatively?
  • How can the decision-maker monitor the sometimes conflicting requirements?

About Me

I am a Fire Engineer for Greater Stockholm’s Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) and a postgraduate student at Lund University. Before I came to SFRS I worked with the Country Administrative Board in Stockholm, principally examining different types of risk analyses, and before this I was a Fire and Risk Consultant conducting risk analyses myself. The experience I have  gained from these different roles has meant that I have seen the challenges from several perspectives and this has given me a good understanding, as well as much frustration, with regards to how risk management in the planning process works in practice. The research school offers me a unique opportunity to combine research and practical work within the fire and rescue service, which is fantastic!

Do you want to know more? Or maybe get involved? Please email me at