A new executive order calls for resiliency, earthquake proof buildings and updated building codes
Each year, the world experiences several millions of earthquakes. The National Earthquake Information Center locates roughly 50 each day. According to some scientists, this aspect of our national security could be drastically shaken up by climate change.
A bone-chilling reality was unearthed from the wake of the deadly quake in Nepal of April 2015: changing weather patterns like increased rainfall was directly applying pressure throughout the river deltas of India and Bangladesh and affecting the region’s seismic activity.
As our understanding of how climate change can affect the Earth’s tectonic plates evolves, federal infrastructure, policy, and technology must rise the to challenge.
Earlier this month, President Obama announced a new executive order establishing federal earthquake risk management standards. These new standards bring about improvements to contemporary building codes for new buildings and renovations, including earthquake-resistant designs. Durability of our national structures is essential, but the hope here is to ring in a new era of resiliency when facing the unpredictable.
The Building Seismic Safety Council (BSSC) was established back in 1979 to manage the technical, regulatory, social, and economic intricacies involved with national risk reduction provisions. This came after the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977 was passed and four agencies we designated to address seismic challenges: the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
These fundamental agencies are all key ingredients to the sea change of modernizing the U.S infrastructure and how the country designs seismic design principles and addresses public safety in the future. Federal agencies will now be obligated to use building codes’ most current earthquake-resistant designs if erecting new structures or renovating any buildings from now on.
By honing in on long-term durability, future risks can be minimized and disaster recovery time and associated costs can be cut. From here, resiliency not only will be built into U.S. infrastructure, but implemented throughout the nation’s culture of earthquake awareness.
Additionally, thanks to UC Berkeley’s Seismological Laboratory, Americans can now take seismic activity into their own hands, literally.
MyShake is a newly-released mobile application that uses smartphones’ sensors to record earthquake shakes in an attempt to build a vast network that could one day offer warnings prior to earthquake events.
“There are much more smartphones these days than the seismic stations. The large number will compensate the relatively low quality in some ways,” explained Qinkai Kong, the designer of the algorithm for the app and UC Berkeley graduate student.