P&C the September 2023 issue

Global Earthquake Model’s Framework in Action

Examples of collaboration, regulatory reforms, risk reduction strategies and more.
By Gordon Feller Posted on August 30, 2023

Hazard Models: Collaborating with local scientists, engineers and practitioners in seismic design codes for the Philippines and Albania.

In 2018, as part of the effort to achieve global coverage of probabilistic seismic hazard models, a partnership emerged between GEM and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, a national institution that focuses on earthquake science and information, among other perils. Together, GEM and the institute developed the national probabilistic seismic hazard model that underlies the maps in the Philippine Earthquake Model Atlas, which the Association of Structural Engineers of the Philippines used to define the National Structural Code of the Philippines.

This year GEM and the Institute of GeoSciences Albania (IGEO) began a collaboration to update the country’s national seismic hazard map, the first update to Albania’s building code since 1989. In addition to developing the hazard model, this collaboration has a significant training component to enhance the IGEO’s capacity for any future development, update or revision of the seismic hazard model using GEM’s OpenQuake Engine.

Exposure and Vulnerability: Providing scientific inputs for enacting regulatory and institutional reforms to reduce seismic risk in Turkey.

Exposure, structural vulnerability, and seismic risk information for Turkey provided by the GEM Foundation to the World Bank was used in the appraisal of the $265 million loan for the Seismic Resilience and Energy Efficiency in Public Buildings Project in May 2021. The risk information provided by GEM also helped narrow the focus of the project to pre-2007 buildings, with a higher priority placed on reinforced concrete buildings constructed prior to 2000. Those buildings were estimated to have double the chance of collapse in an earthquake and a 2.5 times greater probability of fatalities compared to post-2000 code-conformant construction.

In September 2022, the World Bank approved $512.2 million in financing for Turkey to expand access to housing and infrastructure that is resilient to climate and natural hazards, with the goal of saving lives and supporting the country’s economic development.

Seismic Risk: Informing seismic risk reduction policies at the municipality level through local collaboration and capacity development.

GEM’s recently concluded project—Training and Communication for Earthquake Risk Assessment, or TREQ, funded by the United States Agency for International Development—demonstrated that working with local partners in assessing earthquake risk in Quito, Ecuador; Cali, Colombia; and Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, would help local governments put in place mitigation measures.

The mayor of Quito, Santiago Mauricio Guarderas, indicated that TREQ outcomes are an important step in improving the understanding of the phenomenon and in reducing urban earthquake disasters, in accordance with national public policies and international instruments such as the Sendai Framework 2015-2030, the Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda) and the New Urban Agenda.

In Quito, TREQ outputs will be used to adjust the seismic risk reduction strategy with measures and actions applicable to the actual attributes of the city. The seismic risk scenarios developed in the project will also be used for the improvement of the Emergency and Disaster Response Plan of the Metropolitan District of Quito.

“The models and results of the TREQ project represent a fundamental input for the characterization of seismic risk scenarios for the Santiago de Cali Risk Management Plan (PGRD), which is currently being updated,” says Rodrigo Zamorano Sanclemente, the secretary of disaster risk management in the mayor’s office of Cali, Colombia.

In Santiago de los Caballeros, in the Dominican Republic, Marco Antonio Gómez, the executive director of the municipal directorate of territorial planning, calls the results of the TREQ project “very valuable for the formulation of the new municipal public policy guidelines for the management of urban land use and buildability.”

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