Hazus provides three levels of analysis based on the level of effort and expertise employed by the user. Users can improve the accuracy of Hazus loss estimates by furnishing more detailed data about their community, or engineering expertise on the building inventory. The following describes the information and expertise needed for each level:
A basic estimate of earthquake, flood and hurricane wind losses is produced based on national databases and expert-based analysis parameters included in the Hazus software. This is commonly referred to as an "out-of-the-box" or "default" loss estimate. FEMA's Basic HAZUS-Multi Hazard (Hazus-MH) course (E313) enables a user to run Level 1 loss estimation. There may be exceptions for what is considered Level 1 based on unique conditions for your study region. For example, soils maps, if available in Hazus-compatible format, can play a significant role in enhancing the quality of an earthquake loss estimate in your region.
More accurate loss estimates are produced by including detailed information on local hazard conditions and/or by replacing the national default inventories with more accurate local inventories of buildings, essential facilities and other infrastructure. Although there is no standard way to perform a Level 2 study, priority should be given to information that better defines the hazard. Sensitivity studies can guide the user in focusing time and resources on the type of information that will most improve the loss estimate for their study region. There are many professionals that can assist with a Level 2 analysis. These include geologists and hydrologists for improving hazard map data, GIS professionals for improving the national default inventories, and engineers to improve upon the classifications of building types and vulnerability. Some background in loss estimation and experience in using Hazus will normally be required for a Level 2 analysis.
These state-of-the-art loss estimates include all the hazard and inventory improvements in a Level 2 study in addition to expert adjustment of analysis parameters and use of advanced Hazus capabilities such as the Advanced Engineering Building Module (AEBM) and the Potable Water System Analysis Model (POWSAM). A Level 3 effort requires participation by earth scientists, structural engineers, land use planners and/or emergency managers to provide an accurate inventory and assessment of community vulnerability, as well as, a high degree of expertise in Hazus' architecture and file structure.