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'OFF TOPIC!!! RE: Reliability thinking and risk ass'
1997\08\13@105805 by Glenn Johansson

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How does a person in power decide how much money to set aside for improved fire safety that could save lifes and equipment in a fire, how much money to set aside for additional robbery prevention that could save lifes and money in the event of a robbery, and how much money to set aside for non-safety related things like marketing campaigns, etc? Regardless of how much you have spent on safety you can always buy more safety if you spend more money, so you have to put the limit somewhere and say "in this hallway we need fire extinguishers every 49 meters, but every 48 meters would be unnecessary". Or do you mean that all budgets should always spend 100% of the money on safety? What is it that you want to achieve with this - maximum human life on earth, instead of the more common objective maximum human happiness (in Governments and in personal life) or maximum company profit (in company management)? Sure, an airline company can have a crew of 200 people radio-xraying all metal components before takeoff to minimize metal fatigue-caused plane crashes and install airbags in all seats to minimize injuries in the event of a crash etc. As you understand this would be possible but incredibly expensive. Do you find this cost acceptable just because it would probably save some lives over a long period of time? If you don't want to keep the formula I mentioned in the back of your head, then what is it that you as a person in power would base your decisions on? Is it media campaigns, saying "cute kid drowned in deep black well - now we must rebuild all wells and make them safer so it never happens again", or a calculation (using a scientific risk analysis concept) of which safety measures can save more lives? Maybe you can save twice as many lifes per year with the same money, if you instead spend it on improving safety at railway crossings, or by implementing anti-smoke campaigns. Or maybe you will find that too much money is already spent on all types of safety. Or too little. You can't just close your eyes to science and say "the dead kid's parents have such a terrible time right now, that I don't want to seem cynical by looking at statistics, therefore I as the President will spend all the Government's budget to rebuild all the wells in the country. I will not do anything about railroad x-ing safety because no cute kids have been killed in such accidents for a while now. However, I will make it mandatory for all citizens to wear helmets at all times (even at home) since this would have saved about 20 lives over the last two years".

Studies has been made, investigating how different politicians value different lifes. In Sweden, politicians spend 30 million kronor on measures to prevent kids from drowning in wells (split across how many less kids died after the measures were implemented). 24 million kronor per saved life was spent on saving lives at railroad crossings, and 6000 kronor was the value of a life of a smoker according to how much the Government budget spent on anti-smoke campaigns. If we compare different countries, Porgugal valued railway crossers' lives 15 times less valuable than Sweden did. And USA of course (as the most hysterical safety nation) valued their lives twice as much as Sweden did. If the politicans acted on risk management analysis rather than being dependant on things that the voters understand (such as avoiding divorces and sex scandals), many more lives would have been saved on a more even budget of the same size.

>How do you quantify HARM ?
>
>Is it a number, can you put a number to the pain of a burn across your
>face for 20 years - who do you think you are ?

Of course it could be difficult to say "I value this burn mark to 124323 dollars" or "I would pay 5218.12 dollars to have 5 toes just as everyone else" because it's hard to analyse feelings! This is a problem courts face each day when they are to decide how much settlements should be. Sure it's cynical of them to say "you get 10 000 dollars for a whiplash and 2000 dollars for a broken leg", but still they HAVE to convert the emotional harm to some type of value between 0 and 999999999999999 dollars.
The fact that this, artistically, is very cynical, is doesn't mean that risk management is a science that should be ignored. On the contrary! To be able to save as many lives as possible for the money available, you need to be scientific.

You still haven't explained exactly how YOU manage risks. Do you split potential dangers of different magnitude into two groups which you call "not dangerous" and "dangerous", and spend anything to make the dangerous things less dangerous and do nothing about the dangers which have been ranked "not dangerous"? Or do you simply go by intuition and hunches?

>In the context of the clock radio how do you decide from the number you
>get from your 'formula' whether you should make a mental note about its
>contstruction - as this might be useful when filling in an insurance
>application - Eh ?

If you think it is going to take 15 minutes to analyze the fire safety of a clock radio, it is going to mean it costs you 12.50 dollars if your salary is 50 dollars per hour. (If it's your spare time, your time is still about as valuable - slightly LESS if you really wanted to work longer than what you do, and slightly MORE if you really wanted to work fewer hours per day). If the estimtated probability that what you will learn from the investigation of the clock radio is about 5% that it is built in a way you appreciate it is 2% likely to cause a fire, which will cause predicted damages of an average 2000 dollars, then the threat has a value of 2 dollars (0.02*0.05*2000), which means you overreacted by 625% (12.5 / 2) on this threat.

This is somewhat simplified, but I could make it more advanced and take into consideration many more factors (especially the value of what a fire would damage), and the result would still be about the same.

Glenn
Sweden

1997\08\13@115519 by Rob

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On Wed, 13 Aug 1997, Glenn Johansson wrote:

> >Would you ever quote this formula to the parent of a child killed in
> >a plane crash - Eh ?
>
> How does a person in power decide how much money to set aside for
> improved fire safety that could save lifes and equipment in a fire, how
> much money to set aside for additional robbery prevention that could
> save lifes and money in the event of a robbery, and how much money to
> set aside for non-safety related things like marketing campaigns, etc?


I think the point of the original poster was that brain power, common
sense, and engineering principals should be used to determine if there is
a realistic potential of harm to a user.

The whole idea of attaching a formula to safety or threat is just a
feel-good measurement.  The number you calculate is only a
guideline, nothing more.

An analogy: There are plenty of books and academic studies on reliability.
Calculations can be done on MTBF and so forth, but there's more to
reliabilty than just numbers.  Assesing criticality and providing
redundancy are part of the process, as well as making sure parts come
from reliable vendors and manufacturing of product is done in a careful
manner.  I can sit and apply a calculation of MTBF on a box of parts, but
if they aren't designed properly or manufactured well, it doesn't mean
much.

> it that you as a person in power would base your decisions on? Is it
> media campaigns, saying "cute kid drowned in deep black well - now we
> must rebuild all wells and make them safer so it never happens again",
> or a calculation (using a scientific risk analysis concept) of which
> safety measures can save more lives?


As with this hole risk assesment thing, there is no calculation that can
determine the number of lives saved by doing certain things.  A
calculation is only a guideline.

{Quote hidden}

I could look at it another way.  By spending 12.50 and saving 2000 in
damages, I have saved a lot of money.  2000-12.50 = 1987.5.  But the 2000
number is hypothetical.  The fire could cause enough damage to just
destroy the clock, OR burn down a house and kill a family.  A lot of
variation in that Harm portion of the equation.  What Harm # would you
apply in this case?

>
> Glenn
> Sweden
>

I don't mean to jump on anybody's back about this.  I just felt i wanted
to give my humble opinion :)

Rob

1997\08\13@125212 by Mike

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At 11:55 AM 8/13/97 -0400, you wrote:

{Quote hidden}

Very well said Rob,

Succint and to the point, good commonsense *and* redundancy...

You beat me to it, I'll send a private email to Glenn when I have the time,

Regards

Mike
Perth, Western Australia

1997\08\14@235341 by blunn

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Bob Lunn
08/15/97 11:10 AM


>> If the estimtated probability that what you will
>> learn from the investigation of the clock radio is about 5% that it is
>> built in a way you appreciate it is 2% likely to cause a fire, which
>> will cause predicted damages of an average 2000 dollars, then the threat
>> has a value of 2 dollars (0.02*0.05*2000), which means you overreacted
>> by 625% (12.5 / 2) on this threat.
>
> I could look at it another way.  By spending 12.50 and saving 2000 in
> damages, I have saved a lot of money.  2000-12.50 = 1987.5.

    You _could_ look at it this way, but you would be wrong.  You are
    saying that I should spend all my salary this week on lottery tickets,
    because I will make a lot of money.

> But the 2000 number is hypothetical.  The fire could cause enough damage
> to just destroy the clock, OR burn down a house and kill a family.  A lot
> of variation in that Harm portion of the equation.  What Harm # would you
> apply in this case?

    The number 2000 is an hypothesised AVERAGE.  It therefore incorporates
    the variation to which you refer, and the estimated threat is valid.
    In any case, the words 'boundary analysis' come to mind.

    You cannot replace quantification and analysis of risk and harm with
    seat-of-the-pants guesswork.

___Bob

1997\08\15@005434 by blunn

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Bob Lunn
08/15/97 02:25 PM


>> If the estimtated probability that what you will
>> learn from the investigation of the clock radio is about 5% that it is
>> built in a way you appreciate it is 2% likely to cause a fire, which
>> will cause predicted damages of an average 2000 dollars, then the threat
>> has a value of 2 dollars (0.02*0.05*2000), which means you overreacted
>> by 625% (12.5 / 2) on this threat.
>
> I could look at it another way.  By spending 12.50 and saving 2000 in
> damages, I have saved a lot of money.  2000-12.50 = 1987.5.

    You _could_ look at it this way, but you would be wrong.  You are
    saying that I should spend all my salary this week on lottery tickets,
    because I will make a lot of money.

> But the 2000 number is hypothetical.  The fire could cause enough damage
> to just destroy the clock, OR burn down a house and kill a family.  A lot
> of variation in that Harm portion of the equation.  What Harm # would you
> apply in this case?

    The number 2000 is an hypothesised AVERAGE.  It therefore incorporates
    the variation to which you refer, and the estimated threat is valid.
    In any case, the words 'boundary analysis' come to mind.

    You cannot replace quantification and analysis of risk and harm with
    seat-of-the-pants guesswork.

___Bob

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