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National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program

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Comments on the Executive Summary of the 2008–2012 Draft Strategic Plan (16)

  • Comment: Simplify first few pages

    He had to read the first few pages twice to figure out how they related to one another.

    Suggestion: Can the vision, mission, goals, objectives, and priorities be simplified to just vision, mission, and goals?
  • Comment (page v, line 20 and 25): The Vision is to provide a nation that is earthquake resilient. The Mission is to improve the nation's earthquake resilience but perhaps not to the point where the nation is earthquake resilient. Consider editing either the Vision or Mission statements.
  • Comment (page v, line 28): You exclude a very important component of research

    I'm a social scientist

    Suggestion: "...developing and applying sc[ie]ntific, engineering and social scientific knowledge...,"
  • Comment (page v, line 33): The draft NEHRP Strategic Plan does not currently include any consideration of earthquake early warning systems. Earthquake early warning is the rapid detection of earthquakes as they nucleate, assessment of the likely ground shaking hazard they pose, and warning to regions likely to experience damaging ground shaking. In October 2007 the Japan Meteorological Agency launched a publicly available nation wide warning system which provides warnings to industry, government agencies and the public through radio, television, public address systems, the internet, and cell phones. Early warning systems are also active in Taiwan, Mexico, Turkey and Romania.

    Here in the US research is underway to develop and test early warning algorithms by the California Integrated Seismic Network (the consortium of institutions operating seismic networks in the state). Several methodologies are being tested in a three year project (to be completed in 2009) designed to evaluate their performance on the real-time seismic systems in the state. One of the methodologies was operational at the time of the Mw 5.4 Alum Rock earthquake near San Jose on October 30th, 2007, the largest earthquake to strike the San Francisco Bay Area since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Using just the first three seconds of data after the seismic network triggered, the ElarmS system accurately predicted the distribution of ground shaking across the region. Despite the fact that the real-time processing had not yet been optimized and will be faster, the prediction was still available before the residents of San Francisco felt the shaking.

    The development of early warning methodologies in the US and around the world now shows great promise to couple our understanding of earthquake physics with modern digital seismic networks and provide seconds to tens of seconds warning prior to damaging ground shaking. In its recent report to congress, the Scientific Earthquake Studies Advisory Committee (SESAC) recommended that the USGS support research on earthquake early warning systems.

    There is still substantial development necessary before we could implement early warning in the US including development of the methodologies and identification of necessary improvements to the seismic networks. However, this new technology has the potential to revolutionize the field of earthquake information even more than ShakeMap has. As such it is appropriate to include it in the goals and objectives for NEHRP.

    Where does earthquake early warning fit in the NEHRP goals and objectives? Earthquake early warning is related to several of the current goals and objectives:

    1. Goal A, Objective 4: Improving post-earthquake information management. Early warning methodologies, while designed to provide information prior to ground shaking, will also aid in providing post event information. The test system for ElarmS already provides a ShakeMap within 1.5 minutes of earthquakes. This takes advantage of the faster availability of seismic waveform data for early warning to also produce more standard post-event products much faster. The 1.5 min delay of the ElarmS-ShakeMap is six times faster than the current network ShakeMap which takes 8-10 minutes. Early warning methodologies also increase the robustness of post earthquake information because they gather and distribute data and earthquake information as it becomes available. Therefore, if a communications loss occurs during an earthquake, while current post-event information may not get through, information from the early warning system will.
    2. Goal B: Develop cost-effective measures to reduce earthquake impacts on individuals, the built environment, and society-at-large. The clear purpose of early warning is to allow individuals and industry to take actions to reduce the impacts of earthquake shaking thereby reducing the costs in dollars, injuries and potentially lives. Early warning therefore belongs in Goal B. It is related to Objective 5, but is perhaps more appropriate as its own objective.
    3. Goal C, Objective 9: Improve the accuracy, timeliness, and content of earthquake information products. Early warning is clearly part of this objective. It is important to note, however, that there is a fundamental difference between the current post-event information and early warning information. As such it may be more appropriate to separate these two types of information as separate objectives.

    Suggestion: Earthquake early warning is a new a promising addition to our toolbox as we work to build a society resilient to earthquakes. It is a cross-cutting methodology that could add value to the NEHRP program as it addresses objectives within all three NEHRP Goals. Yet earthquake early warning is currently not mentioned at all in the draft Strategic Plan. I propose that it be included, and that the development, testing and implementation of early warning be added to the funding priorities. It would be most appropriate to list it as a cross-cutting priority. At the very least the contribution of early warning development to the goals and objectives listed above should be added.

    I would be happy to provide additional information and suggested text should that be helpful. [contact information deleted]
  • Comment (page vi, line 4): It's not clear from the title how this objective supports the goal of "Improve understanding of earthquake processes and impacts."

    Objectives should build on Goals in a clear, direct way.

    Suggestion: Advance learning from earthquakes through improved efforts to acquire and manage post-earthquake information.
  • Comment (page vi, line 9): Logically, this objective falls under Goal A rather than Goal B

    logical consistency

    Suggestion: Move it up to Goal A
  • Comment (page vi, line 9): This does not seem to be the correct word for the title of Objective 5

    It seems that estimating is the more proper term than assessments.

    Suggestion: Replace "Assessments" with "Estimating likely"
  • Comment (page vi, line 11–13): Suggest revised wording.

    Sentences are grammatically incorrect. Tools themselves don't improve seismic performance.

    Suggestion: Develop new methods and standards to improve the seismic performance of buildings and other structures.

    Develop new methods and standards to improve the seismic performance of critical infrastructure.
  • Comment (page vi, line 20): Expand Objective 11 to include seismic evaluation and rehabilitation of existing buildings.
  • Comment (page vi, line 33): Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on the 5-year NEHRP strategic plan. The American Geological Institute is a non-profit umbrella organization of 44 geoscience societies and represents more than 100,000 geoscientists. NEHRP is an extremely valuable and effective federal program that has help the nation reduce its earthquake risk. AGI strongly supports NEHRP and strongly supports the draft five-year strategic plan.

    In terms of the nine cross cutting priorities mentioned in the plan, AGI would suggest adding support for basic research and dedicated funding for earthquake monitoring infrastructure to the priorities. Below are two statements that might be added to the cross cutting priorities.

    Support basic research of earthquake processes as a cross cutting priority. Research is the foundation for improving 1. risk assessment, 2. cost-effective built environment resiliency, 3. mitigation and 4. education and public outreach.

    Ensure that there is enough support for operation and maintenance of key monitoring and observational infrastructure, such as ANSS, the Global Seismographic Network and EarthScope, while not taking away funding for basic research.

    Thank you again for the opportunity to offer input on the plan. [contact information deleted]
  • Comment (page vii, line 5): Is NEHRP really expected to develop earthquake-resilient lifeline components and systems? Or just the guidelines for developing these? I'm assuming the latter, but maybe through NEES...?

    Clarify meaning

    Suggestion: Develop guidelines for earthquake-resilient lifeline components and systems.
  • Comment (page vii, line 6): Scenario development should be a coordinated effort for use with not only risk reduction but response and recovery planning.

    Lack of co[o]rdination/sharing across program boundaries results in duplication of effort, inconsistencies, and further sep[a]ration of program efforts with the same focus.

    Suggestion: Develop and conduct earthquake scenarios for effective earthquake program planning and exercise activities.
  • Comment (page vii, line 6): Consider editing the text to read ".....effective earthquake planning and risk reduction".

    There is a need to plan for earthquakes and their aftermath, to best use limited resources, etc.
  • Comment (page vii, line 6): Awkward wording. How does one "conduct" an earthquake scenario?

    Should be clarified

    Suggestion: "Development and use of earthquake scenarios for planning, training (e.g. exercises) and mitigation."
  • Comment (page vii, line 27): If your going to study the effects and impacts of an event, the strategic plan should also offer guidance for those persons working in non-mitigation programs but are identified as Earth[q]uake Program Managers.

    Program actions inconsistent.

    Suggestion: Offer some guidance/acknowledgement of response and recovery planning as being a part of NEHRP if you're going to assess it. See the full reference to DHS FEMA Responsibilities regarding response and recovery outline in the 2004 Re-Authorization not just the one listed on p. 7 line 14 of the Strategic Plan.
  • Comment (page vii, line 32): The statement cuts out all "earthquake professionals" who are not "intimat[e]ly involved" with the earthquake risk reduction process.

    In order to have an effective partnership the St[ra]tegic Plan needs to provide for those "earthquake professionals" within government who operate in non-risk reduction programs.

    Suggestion: ...involved with addressing the earthquake threat.

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