Rapid Impact Assessment

Rapid Damage Assessment is the first element of AMAL’s mobile and web application. It was considered the most important initial step in the program because a timely response to disaster can reduce the degree and extent of damage and prevent the permanent loss of cultural heritage. Furthermore, only with a proper emergency response can the crucial phases of recovery and reconstruction begin.

Main objective

Emergency Response
To stabilize and secure damaged cultural heritage assets and prevent further damage or loss until the recovery phase can start. In contrast with emergency recovery, emergency response is a temporary solution to forestall further damage to cultural heritage following a disaster of natural or human origin.

What Is Rapid Impact or Damage Assessment?

The objective of a rapid damage assessment is to identify the extent and impact of the damage caused by the disaster and to identify priorities for intervention. It should help conservators and interested laypeople understand the problem(s), the source of the problem(s), and the consequence(s) of the problem(s). Its ultimate aim is to identify whether intervention is needed for the heritage asset or not. A rapid damage assessment could be followed by a more detailed assessment when more information is needed and if the situation permits.

How it helps

  1. Prioritize emergency response and identify cultural heritage assets (building, site, collection, etc.) that need further assessment
  2. Identify the type and nature of the required interventions based on the type and degree of damage
  3. Identify humane and financial resources for emergency intervention
  4. Identify where permission or mutual agreement for intervention is required

When Should I Do a Rapid Impact Assessment?

The first hours after a disaster are critical for saving lives and infrastructure, a fact that is also true for cultural heritage. Although time is always of the essence, rapid response to cultural crises must begin after the initial humanitarian relief mission is accomplished. Furthermore, during an ongoing threat or security situation, an emergency response to damaged cultural heritage assets must be delayed until the safety and security of personnel can be assured.


Coordination and Permission

The emergency response and rapid impact assessment following a disaster or incident should be done only in coordination with competent, relevant local or national authorities and humanitarian agencies.

If the cultural property or the impacted area is under the control of army, police, or other authorities or relief agencies, the cultural heritage damage assessors should obtain the needed permissions or agreements before beginning work on the site.

Who Should Conduct Rapid Damage Assessments for Cultural Heritage?

Ideally, trained cultural heritage professionals with experience in disaster risk management and impact assessment should lead missions for the damage assessment of monuments, sites, historic cities, collections, and museums.

However, in an emergency situation, when an extensive area is impacted and there is neither enough time nor enough resources, collaboration between heritage professionals and other relevant groups is warranted. Police, army, humanitarian first responders, students, and community volunteers are encouraged to join the damage assessment groups under the leadership of a trained heritage professional.

Personal Safety First!

A disaster-impacted area or a damaged building or site is usually an unsafe environment for first responders. Therefore, before starting any on-site surveys or assessments the safety and security of the site must be ascertained. During the course of their work, the members of a damage assessment team may be exposed to potentially life-threatening hazards from broken, damaged, and unstable structures; contaminated materials and hazardous waste; electrical systems; and – in war zones – unexploded ordnance.

Because of these omnipresent dangers, the damage assessment teams should wear appropriate protective clothing, including a hard hat or helmet, safe shoes, protective gloves, and facemasks to protect themselves from dust, asbestos, and other pollutant inhalation. They should also carry first aid kits.

Different Levels of Rapid Damage Assessment

The Rapid Impact Assessment consists of four levels of assessment.
  • Level 1

    region, city, or area.
    This level of assessment should provide an overview of the incident and its impact on the cultural heritage assets. The information collected and visualized on the map is:
    • Description of the incident
    • Primary source of damage
      • Natural Hazards
      • Human-made hazards
    • Number of sites/institutions/buildings damaged
      • Type of heritage affected
      • Degree of damage
  • Level 2

    site, building, ensemble, or complex.
    At this level, the following information should be collected.
    • Name of Site
    • Location of site with coordinates
    • Key site map with location of components
    • Level of Protection (international/national/local/unprotected)
    • Degree of Damage
    • Uploading of photos and individual forms of components
  • Level 3

    Impact details
    Level 3 is assessment at a more detailed level, with further information gathered on the impacted building or collection (museum, library, archive):
    • Name of the building/collection
    • Coordinates
    • Building/collection ownership
    • Building use
    • Upload: Map, photos, drawings, and sketches of the building
    • Existing Inventory Number
    • New Reference Number
    • Level of Protection (international/national/local/unprotected)
    • Secondary Hazard(s)
    • Material and construction system (of wall, roof and flooring and structural member)
    • Type of Damage of building’s structure, wall, roof, foundation
  • Level 4

    Heritage asset, object or collection of objects
    • Location of Objects/Collections
    • General Information about the Collection
    • Type(s) of Object(s)
    • Type(s) of Material
    • Estimated Number of Objects
    • Type of Damage
    • Level of Damage

©2023 Amal in Heritage™

Program managed by Global Heritage Fund
a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.