Since the early 1990s, when Hazus development was initiated, there has been considerable interest within the international community in the application of the Hazus loss estimation methodology and software application for international use. The National Institute for Building Sciences (NIBS) has led efforts on behalf of FEMA to evaluate steps that need to be taken to develop an internationally applicable version of Hazus. There are several steps that interested nations would have to take as part of a feasibility study for the international application of Hazus:
One of the first steps is to determine the feasibility of creating study regions within Hazus for other countries. A "study region" is the basic geographic area that is used by Hazus for loss estimation. Developing Hazus for other countries requires investigating data that can be used to populate data layers in Hazus for provincial boundaries and other jurisdictional boundaries.
A second step is to determine data and methods to characterize earthquake, flood, cyclone, and other hazards. For example, developing a Hazus Earthquake Model for another country requires preparing ground shaking maps for that country for the earthquake loss analysis. For flooding, in-country topographic and hydrologic data are required. Cyclone characterization requires models for countries that border the Caribbean, Indian, and western Pacific Oceans.
International users will also have to develop an inventory database that is compatible with Hazus. Data in the following categories will need to be investigated:
- Building stock
- Essential facilities (hospitals, police, fire, schools)
- High hazard facilities (dams, nuclear plants)
- Transportation and utility lifelines
- Building and other valuations
Damage and Loss Parameters
Another consideration for the international user is how to modify the model parameters in Hazus, such as the damage functions, restoration functions, damage ratios, and economic replacement values to reflect the behavior of the buildings and lifeline systems in other countries. Data for numbers and types of casualties and shelter requirements from recent events will need to be assessed to form a basis for modifying Hazus parameters.
Software considerations include the implementation of software modifications, including recoding to accommodate new configurations for study regions, hazard characterization, inventory data, damage and loss functions and parameter modifications. Internet applications will need to be investigated based on the capabilities of GIS platforms.
It is anticipated that several international users will want to use Hazus to support post-disaster decision-making, therefore it is important to develop near real-time capability based on systems that produce rapid loss estimation reports either before (cyclone) or following (earthquake) a hazard event.
A final task for international users of Hazus is the preparation of supporting manuals to guide users, including technical manuals and user manuals.