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impact | 05 Mar 2016

February 2016: What is the most significant change arising out of your work for GEM in the past month?

~ some interesting insights on GEM’s impact and achievement from the perspective of our hardworking staff.

"We can now run the hazard calculation for all of South America in under 24 hours" ~ Michele Simionato

As a Software Engineer, my work has been leading to the release of version 1.8 of the OpenQuake engine in the past month. This release represents a quantum leap in stabilising the design of this vital tool for GEM, by replacing of all of the older calculators in the engine with new versions. Our future development work can now proceed in a much more efficient manner, without the constraints of the old architecture. The magnitude of change is such that implementing new features which previously would take a month, can be done in a day!


"Personal growth and client focus" ~ Giulia Musolino

Providing admin and logistic support to GEM, the most significant change arising from my work in last month has been through improving my understanding the needs of the staff of the Secretariat. As a new staff member, this change gives me more confidence and the ability to help you better with planning and organising events like the Annual Hazard Training.


"Pushing the frontiers of science" ~ Yen­Shin Chen

Within GEM Foundation’s Hazard Team, I have been working on Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Assessment (PSHA) and modelling the near-fault effect of earthquakes. Making this type of model available inside GEM’s OpenQuake engine is a significant change, as there is no open software which has the capacity to model near-fault effects. Our efforts in this regard will help in improving PSHA accuracy which is important for facilities with critical public safety demands, such as nuclear power plants and lifeline infrastructure.


"Applying Social Science and technology to DRR and humanitarian relief" ~ Michael Musori

While my work is ongoing, in the last month I have been able to generate social vulnerability maps, based on the tools GEM has developed for integrated risk. Combined with risk maps, this application of Social Science contributes to the very real, human impact of the work of the GEM Foundation and assists development practitioners and decision makers in visualising the socio-economic vulnerability of the people they serve. By understanding where the greatest needs are, GEM’s work offers immense practical value in planning Disaster Risk Reduction and humanitarian response activities.


"Open modelling allows for transparent validation of risk assumptions" ~ Anirudh Rao

The project that I have been working on this past month is a seismic risk assessment for California, where we have been applying a range of modelling assumptions for the calculation of probabilistic loss metrics, such as average annual loss. Our approach offers not only a deeper insight into the impact of a range of variables, but also increases user control of and confidence in the resultant calculations. While refining the modelling will take a few more weeks, GEM is presenting our preliminary results - focussed on the San Francisco Bay Area - to the California Seismic Safety Commission (CSSC). At a practical level, this work helps homeowners, businesses, insurers, and regulators to better understand the seismic risk to which they are exposed, allowing them the opportunity to take timely and appropriate, mitigating action.


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