2. Definitions

In this manual, the terminology layer, project, and project definition are used ubiquitously, and it is important to explain what the terminology means as well as its use. In QGIS, a project or project file is a kind of container that acts like a folder storing information on file locations of layers and how these layers are displayed in a map. It is the main QGIS datafile. A layer is the mechanism used to display geographic datasets in the QGIS software, and layers provide the data that is manipulated within the IRMT. Each layer references a specific dataset and specifies how that dataset is portrayed within the map. The standard layer format for the IRMT is the ESRI Shapefile [ESRI98] that can be imported within the QGIS software using the default add data functionality, or layers may be created on-the-fly within the IRMT using GEM’s socio-economic databases. A QGIS project can include multiple layers that can be utilized to provide the variables and maps necessary for an integrated risk assessment. For each layer, multiple project definitions can be saved. A project definition is a set of parameters that are defined within the IRMT to define the integrated risk assessment’s workflow. It allows users to create, edit, and manage the workflow needed to systematically develop integrated risk models using layers. The project definition:

  • distinguishes which variables within a dataset are to be combined together to obtain a composite indicator;
  • defines how variables are grouped together by supporting: 1) deductive models that typically contain fewer than ten indicators that are normalized and aggregated to create the index; and 2) hierarchical models that employ roughly ten to twenty indicators that are separated into groups (sub-indices) that share the same underlying dimension (such as economy and infrastructure) in a manner in which individual indicators are aggregated into sub-indices, and the subindices are aggregated to create the index;
  • describes the type of aggregation method including additive modelling, weighted aggregation, and geometric aggregation that can be utilized by users to combine variables;
  • establishes the application of weights (if desired) to individual variables or sub-indices; and
  • delimits the directionality of variables when the intent is to consider that some variables may add to an index outcome; whereas some variables may need to detract from it. When considering the social vulnerability of populations, a socio-economic status indicator such as the percentage of population with a college education provides an example of a characteristic that may detract from social vulnerability, thereby warranting a negative directionality within an index.
[ESRI98]ESRI Shapefile Technical Description, Environmental Systems Research Institute, Redlands, C.A.