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M7 is quite survivable - just look at the 4 Septem...

M7 is quite survivable - just look at the 4 September 2010 M7.1 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. There are probably two key factors that resulted in no loss of life in my home town - one pure luck, the other good mitigation. We were so lucky that it occurred at 435am local time. Nearly everyone was in bed and the streets were about as clear as they would ever be. Fortunately, for many many years now, we have recognised our earthquake risk and have a strong building code designed to withstand a considerable amount of ground acceleration caused by an earthquake.<br /><br />So, I'd suggest that the quality of the building code and how it has been designed to factor in earthquakes will probably be a significant factor in determining how heavily a New Madrid earthquake impacts the surrounding regions.<br /><br />If the building code is poor, then you'll have to do a heck of a lot more planning, training and exercising because the impact will be significantly greater, and it will take a lot longer to recover.<br /><br />One aspect of planning I'm interested in, is that of rapid building safety evaluation following an earthquake. In the US, this is done under the ATC-20 guideline. In New Zealand, we have a very similar guideline that is based on ATC-20 but has been refined by the NZ Society for Earthquake Engineering. Following our earthquake in September, some colleagues and I were responsible for helping to set up the process for assessing buildings. Whilst this went pretty well, one huge gap is the lack of an information system designed to support the rapid collection and reporting of building damage assessments, and scale to potentially hundreds of thousands of buildings. This is an area that I am very interested in seeing a free and open source software toolset developed to enable the management of building information following an earthquake (and indeed other events).<br /><br />I believe that the collection and management of building assessments, based on our experiences in Christchurch over the past few months, is an area that globally we are not as prepared as we could be, and is an area where we can perhaps collaborate (maybe with the new US+NZ emergency management relationship) to build a free software tool to manage post-disaster building damage assessment.<br /><br />I'm slowly capturing my observations on the building safety evaluation process on my blog. This is a link that provides an overview of my observations and experiences to date. I've still got quite a bit to add, and will be doing this over the Christmas/New Year break.<br /><br />http://www.rediguana.co.nz/gav/2010/09/04/canterbury-earthquake-2010/<br /><br />Cheers Gav