⛪️ 🛣  Abbey Road Edition 
Welcome back to your Human Risk Newsletter filled with more lovingly-curated Behavioural Science (BeSci) inspired content. 
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Coming up in this edition
1. A burst water pipe in New Orleans illustrates Human Risk in action;
2. A BeSci Intervention that re-works a classic album cover shows how easily our attention can be diverted away from one thing onto another;

3. A blog that explores maps is Something that made me think; and

4. A book that explores bias in datasets is my Something for the weekend recommendation.

Human Risk in action

A water pipe in New Orleans illustrates two aspects of Human Risk.
Burst water mains are an all-too-common occurrence, so it might surprise you to learn that I'm featuring one in the newsletter.  

In this case in New Orleans, a 111-year-old water pipe burst, causing large-scale flooding. Workers sent to repair the pipe, appear to have then inadvertently made the situation worse, by opening a valve too quickly, risking potential water supply contamination.

I'm featuring the story because it illustrates an essential aspect of Human Risk; even when people aren't the root cause of a problem, they can often make it worse by the way they respond to it. People can amplify problems that aren't of human-making as well as create new ones.

Also of interest was the response from the New Orleans Sewage & Water Board:

"The fact is that we may have opened the valve, filled that main a little bit too fast, caused a drop in pressure in the rest of the was an unfortunate incident, but we wanted to own it, much like we want to continue being transparent and own anything that we do, the good and the bad, and this was somewhat of a blemish, unfortunately”.

On the one hand, this is a useful reminder that acknowledging that Human Risk will occur is a good approach to risk management and an effective way of providing psychological safety to employees.

On the other hand, note the caveated language used to describe the incident which detracts (just a little) from real ownership of the problem: "we may have" and "a little bit too fast".     

To see a news report on the story, click here.
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A BeSci Intervention

A re-working of a classic album cover shows how easily our attention can diverted.
50 years ago The Beatles released their 11th album, Abbey Road. Named after the location of the EMI studios in which it was recorded, the cover featured this iconic image. 
The focus of the picture is clearly on the four band members.  What you might not have noticed is the fifth Beatle in the picture. No, not the mystery man on the right whose identity you can read about here, but rather the VW Beatle 😉 parked on the left! 

You'll notice that the car is inappropriately (under present law, illegally) parked on the pavement. Sensing a marketing opportunity, Volkswagen recently released what they called a re-parked version of the cover which they sold in album cover size in aid of a charity. 
The Human Risk lesson here is that once you've seen the new version, you're more likely to notice the car than the band when looking again at the original.  

Readers planning on visiting the crossing should mitigate their own Human Risk by taking note of two things.  Firstly the location: it is nowhere near Abbey Road station. As Transport for London helpfully explains to those who go there looking for it:
Secondly, be aware that your exploits will be caught on camera thanks to a 24/7 webcam filming the crossing, which makes for surprisingly addictive viewing.

For more Abbey Road album trivia, I recommend this article.
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Something that made me think

A blog that illustrates quite how inaccurate maps are in reality is a useful reminder that the models we sometimes use to make sense of the world, aren't always correct.
We all intuitively know that maps aren't an accurate representation of the real world.    

One of the main reasons is because of something called The Mercator Projection which is beautifully explained here by friend of the newsletter, Sketchplanator Jono Hey.
If you're not already a Sketchplanations subscriber, then do sign up here for a weekly dose of the complex made simple.

I mention the Mercator Projection because I recently came across this site that uses GIFs like this to show quite how significant the distortions it causes are:
You might not immediately think of maps as being sources of Human Risk. But as these recent headlines illustrate, they shape human decision-making in lots of ways. 
The good news is that digital mapping is slowly moving away from the Mercator Projection: Google Maps on desktop (but not yet mobile) now opens by depicting the world as round.

As well as GIFs like the one above, the site also contains several interesting links to other map resources.
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Something for the weekend

A book that explores biases in our existing data sets, is not only a fascinating read but highlights a critical driver of Human Risk.
To research Human Risk topics, I read a lot of books and one, in particular, has had a fundamental impact on how I look at the world. Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez is an award-winning book that highlights quite how much of the data we use to make decisions, is biased.
For reasons Criado Perez explains in the book, this means that we're often designing environments in which 50 per cent of the population is both disadvantaged and at higher risk.

While it makes a very serious point, this is a readable, thought-provoking study that I thoroughly recommend. 
Here are just a few of the biases that the book explores:
The dynamics described in Invisible Women are starkly illustrated by Melovaz, a recently launched Iranian music streaming site. While it does feature work by female artists in its library, the album artworks are subject to some astonishing censorship. More examples here.
Finally, I was also intrigued by Removed; photographs showing the poses we adopt when using mobile devices, but where the devices themselves have been...removed. Like this:
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Coming soon...

On 12 November, I'm speaking at this EY event on ethical decision making in Geneva. Readers interested in attending can register for a free place here:

Incase you missed it...

I recently presented a session on Human Risk as part of Risk Awareness Week.  If you missed it, you can watch a free replay here.  Readers who don't have the time to watch it can read this summary of it in Strategic Risk Europe.
As well as the recently launched Human Risk podcast (new episode I'm very excited about, due shortly), do make sure you check out the Human Risk YouTube channel.   To see what you'll get by subscribing, check out the latest additions below:

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