The first Hazus-MH Users Conference on June 19-21, 2007, hosted by ESRI, brought together over 400 Hazus-MH users from 19 nations to discuss a wide range of topics related to the Hazus-MH model development and applications for risk assessment, planning and preparedness. The following themes were reinforced during the two day conference:
- As a regional loss estimation tool, Hazus-MH has a unique and valuable role in our nation’s intergovernmental approach to geospatial preparedness.
- Hazus-MH MR3 and the Comprehensive Data Management System (CDMS) will greatly facilitate and improve data management under Hazus-MH.
- There continues to be significant interest internationally in loss estimation methodologies and specifically in Hazus-MH.
- Damage functions are what make Hazus-MH unique; emphasis should continue to be given to refining these attributes through model validation.
- Hazus-MH will continue to be used for catastrophic planning; however, it is critical that users understand the uncertainties associated with the model.
- Non-traditional uses of Hazus-MH are receiving greater attention (e.g., adaptation of model for tsunami analysis).
- Post-disaster clearinghouses, such as the one established following Hurricane Katrina, will continue to play an important role in post-event data collection and analysis. Hazus-MH will play a central role in these clearinghouses.
- Case studies continue to emerge that showcase new and innovative uses of Hazus-MH for risk assessment and mitigation, the “core” capability of the model.
- Hazus-MH complements and supports the analysis underway through Map Modernization Program.
Opening Session - Role of Hazus-MH in Geospatial Preparedness
The opening session highlighted the role of Hazus-MH in geospatial preparedness - defined as the application of geospatial information and technology to support emergency management. Dan Cotter, Chief Technology Officer for the Department of Homeland Security, shared his vision of the application of HAZUS-MH in concert with other technologies to meet the challenges of managing future disaster operations. Richard K. Eisner, the Fritz Institute, drew on his experience as the former Regional Administrator of the California Office of Emergency Services to highlight the use of Hazus-MH as a real-time tool for estimating the impacts of damaging earthquakes.
Use of Hazus-MH for Risk Assessment and Mitigation
Since the enactment of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, Hazus-MH has become an important tool in risk assessment and mitigation planning at the state and community level. This session described two innovative approaches to the use of Hazus-MH for mitigation planning. In Indiana, The Polis Center continues to focus on collection of parcel data in developing a robust Hazus-MH inventory to support mitigation planning in 30 Indiana counties. In Harris County, Texas, local officials turned to CivilTech to prepare a risk assessment, among the largest studies of its kind in the United States. Annie Ding's presentation highlighted the use of Hazus-MH to support decision-making in Harris County in response to Hurricane Rita.
Outreach and Support: What Tools are Available?
As the use of Hazus-MH becomes more widespread, new and innovative outreach strategies are emerging. This session examined key strategies and tools that are in use, their effectiveness, and the role of Hazus-MH User Groups in promoting outreach and constituency building.
What's New with MR3: Enhancements and CDMS
This session featured Hazus-MH model developers who highlighted the new advances in Hazus-MH MR3, due to be released in September, 2007. Important enhancements in MR3 include the Comprehensive Data Management System (CDMS), which will allow users to manage statewide geodatabases to support Hazus-MH analyses. This session will also highlighted an innovative pilot project to develop a Hazus-MH Web-Based Portal in South Carolina.
The Use of Hazus-MH for Managing Hurricane Disaster Operations
Since Hurricane Isabel in 2003, FEMA and several states have used Hazus-MH to support decision-making in a hurricane operation. Since that time, FEMA has led efforts to standardize Hazus-MH “templates” and operating procedures to ensure that the model outputs are used effectively and responsibly. This session examined the roles of FEMA, states and local governments in the use of Hazus-MH in managing hurricane operations, including lessons learned and guidance for other users.
Non-Traditional Uses of Hazus-MH
The versatility of Hazus-MH was demonstrated in this session. Doug Huls (California Office of Emergency Services) demonstrated the use of Google Earth for displaying Hazus-MH results, while the use of Hazus-MH to assess the tsunami hazard was the focus of a presentation by Bill Bohn. The third presentation showed how Hazus-MH has been used to support business continuity planning and disaster preparedness for the U.S. Postal Service. The final session will highlight the approach used by the Small Business Administration in the use of Hazus-MH to support that agency's approach to planning for long-term recovery.
Hazus-MH Applications for Research
This session highlighted the role of Hazus-MH in support of hazards and social research, and the applications of this research to support emergency management decision-making. Topics that were addressed included the role of Hazus-MH in the Hurricane Katrina and Rita GIS Clearinghouse, the use of Hazus-MH to support measurement of social vulnerability, and the role of Hazus-MH in supporting seismic research.
Hazus-MH Model Development: Next Steps
This session provided an overview of ongoing developments in Hazus-MH MR3, including CDMS. Participants were provided an opportunity to pose technical questions to the model developers, who led this session.
Use of Hazus-MH for Catastrophic Planning
Hazus-MH continues to play an important role in advancing one of FEMA's priorities in 2007 - planning for catastrophic earthquakes and hurricanes in the United States. This session went into considerable detail on the use of Hazus-MH for scenario development for a catastrophic earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, and the role of Hazus-MH and other tools at FEMA Headquarters for supporting impact assessments. The use of Hazus-MH for catastrophic planning for hurricanes was also examined.
The Role of Hazus-MH in Comprehensive Planning
Best practices in the use of Hazus-MH for risk assessment and comprehensive planning were among the topics addressed in this session. As Hazus-MH becomes more widely used as a tool for comprehensive planning, best practices are emerging and are being documented. Hillsborough County, Florida, is among the growing number of local jurisdictions that is using Hazus-MH to support risk assessment and comprehensive planning, which will be highlighted in this session.
Optimizing Your Use of Hazus-MH through HUGs and HAZUS.org
HAZUS-MH User Groups (HUGs) have played a pivotal role in Hazus-MH outreach, constituency building, and applications of analysis for risk assessments, mitigation and preparedness planning. This session highlighted the approaches of active and successful HUGs and identified the keys to their success.
Role of Data in Use of Hazus-MH for Risk Assessment and Preparedness
Acknowledging that inventory data is critical to accurate Hazus-MH analyses, FEMA has developed and led several initiatives to improve inventory data and use of the data for risk assessments, mitigation and preparedness planning. In this technical session, presenters highlighted the role of FEMA Region X in a proactive approach to geospatial preparedness and state support, and the role of the Florida HUG in coordinating a statewide project to enhance the state's inventory of essential facilities.
During the Hazus-MH Users Conference, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and its partners recognized exemplary Hazus-MH practices, organized into six categories. The links below provide details of the award recipient accomplishments.
- HUG Innovation: Training and Outreach -- Central U.S. HAZUS User Group (HUG)
- HUG Innovation: Organization and Data Management -- Florida HUG
- Hazus-MH Best Practices: Flood Analysis -- Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA)
- Hazus-MH Best Practices: Hurricane Analysis -- National Hurricane Center
- Hazus-MH Best Practices: Earthquake Analysis -- Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology
- Hazus-MH Lifetime Acheivement -- Richard K. Eisner, Fritz Institute [formerly with California Office of Emergency Services (OES)]