RTC Dinner on Managing Catastrophes (16 December 2014)

A Computer Platform for Managing Catastrophes

We live on a planet prone to catastrophes. Natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods and volcanic eruptions are a persistent threat to the lives and livelihoods of people across the globe. Beyond the force of Nature, other catastrophic events such as pandemics, acts of political violence, and industrial disasters blight the human environment. The massive scale of catastrophes, both natural and man-made, made risk management very difficult before the computer desktop revolution. Since then, quantitative catastrophe models have been constructed to assist insurers and government agencies in managing the extreme risks to which they are exposed. A quarter of a century after catastrophe risk modelling began, a new revolution beckons with the development of an integrated cloud-based computer platform for running all catastrophe models.

Gordon Woo

Dr Gordon Woo is a Catastrophist at Risk Management Solutions (RMS), specializing in the quantitative analysis of a broad spectrum of catastrophe risks, both natural and man-made. In his fourteen years at RMS, he has designed computer models for numerous catastrophes, including terrorism and pandemics. For his work on catastrophe insurance, he was named by Treasury and Risk magazine as one of the hundred most influential people in finance. As a noted expert in many fields of disaster management, he has served on the Blackett Committee reviewing extreme events for the UK government chief scientist.

He is the author of the two books, ‘The Mathematics of Natural Catastrophes’, published by Imperial College Press in 1999, and ‘Calculating Catastrophe’, published also by Imperial College Press in 2011. Dr. Woo graduated as the best mathematician of his year at Cambridge University, completed his PhD at MIT as a Kennedy Scholar, and was a member of the Harvard Society of Fellows. He is a visiting professor at University College London, and an adjunct professor at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.