Life on the edge (of the Pacific Ring of Fire): Risk and Resilience data for its 504 hotspot Shared Service Centres

As a resident of Singapore, it feels pretty fraudulent to claim any real proximity to the increasing frequency and scale of natural disasters occurring within the Pacific Ring of Fire (PRoF). Despite South East Asia sitting on the circle of activity, technically-speaking (or rather plate-tectonically speaking), Singapore sits on a different plate altogether (Eurasian) and therefore the 5m of us populating this tiny island, live in blissful ignorance of natural disaster on a daily basis. I’d even go so far as to say, nothing even remotely dangerous ever seems to happen here… period. (You could think of it as the Southern Hemisphere’s equivalent to Lincoln Boulevard*). 

Before naysayers point out the obvious, I’m very aware this is a highly subjective perspective of Singapore I’m painting here. In my defence, it does however, appear to be entirely validated by the very objective, historical natural disaster data patterns displayed in SSON Analytics’ City Cube, which rates Singapore as a big fat ZERO on Risk Probability Index™. A sound reason to live and work here you might add (1m ex-pats evidently agree), and even more so to set up a Shared Services Delivery Centre here (as 134 organisations have also concluded for themselves by doing just that).

Sadly, the same low-risk status cannot be enjoyed by many of Singapore’s neighbouring countries also sitting West of the Pacific ocean. The Philippines, Indonesia, Japan and New Zealand have all had their very fair share of PRoF-related disasters of late, and most worryingly, the rate of these occurrences only seems to be growing. Earthquakes, typhoons, hurricanes and volcanic eruptions have scarily become all-to-normal newspaper headlines we all read about every month (even close to weekly since July 2017). But what does all this increased activity and risk really mean for Shared Service Centres situated on the PRoF? And for those contemplating setting up there?

SSON analysts took a closer look at the size and scope of the threat in their latest risk report where a total of 504 Shared Service Centres (SSCs) from 32 different cities were identified as sitting within the Pacific basin and “zone” of PRoF activity. A quick glance at the most popular SSC Cities on the PRoF reveals the West side bears the lion share of risk, with 3 of the top 5 cities based there: Makati City (12% SSCs), Jakarta (9%) and Taguig City (9%). From a country-level, The Philippines, being home to two of those SSC-dense locations, is home to the highest number of SSCs in the PRoF, and therefore is the country at highest risk.

That said, East of Pacific, things aren’t looking much rosier for other PRoF hotspots. Mexico City and Costa Rica both also feature in the top 5 for SSC popularity and San Francisco alone houses 5% of the PRoF SSCs. However, the US West Coast Shared Service landscape is less at risk on the whole, as staggeringly the number of SSC numbers based there are less than half the total number of SSCs in just the Philippines alone. 

I recognise this isn’t reading like a good news story, and it clearly doesn’t have a happy ending for the many millions affected by PRoF disasters each year (both in and outside of the SSO Industry). But given we cannot change the weather and the planet will always have a mind of its own, perhaps more comfortingly, we can turn our minds to disaster recovery and what the numbers tell us about where business continuity planning stands its very best chance against the forces of nature.

Here’s where SSON Analytics’ Natural Disaster Risk Resilience Index™ comes into its own. Its built on ridiculously large local infrastructure datasets (e.g. road networks, number of hospitals, fire stations and emergency services etc) and essentially tells us how long it will take for any given city to get back on it’s feet were the worst to happen (pre-disaster economic state). Being a self-confessed control freak, I like this analytics tool a lot. The concept really appeals to me that we can more be than fore-warned of danger, but to a degree, also fore-warned of its consequences too. Playing with the data inside is pretty eye-opening – it’s remarkable how much post-disaster resilience really does vary from city to city, and even inside the same country in some cases.  

So what does it tell us about resilience in the PRoF? (You can drill down by region, and by each type of disaster, inside the report for the full view, but headlines are pretty insightful too.) Fun-facts include Peru facing less risk probability than both Chile and Ecuador, whilst having higher risk resilience than both. My recommendation is, if you’re one of the 504 centres already based there, or thinking about joining the PRoF SSC club anytime soon, it’s well worth a 5 min read over your morning espresso. It might just help you uncover some SSC location opportunities to try and limit your overall PRoF risk. 

For more information, please read the report:

*Home Alone 1991. Referencing the McCallister Home on Lincoln Boulevard. “The most boring street in America. Where nothing even remotely dangerous will ever happen, period”. 

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