GEM2020: Year in Review


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The year 2020 was a milestone year for GEM, because of the significant advances made in capacity development, new projects and partnerships, products released and participation in virtual events, which were accomplished during a difficult period of time due to the ongoing pandemic.


Close to 300 individuals were trained online on seismic hazard and risk analysis using OpenQuake engine software under the USAID-supported TREQ project – officially launched in Quito, Ecuador in March. The online training workshops given in Spanish and English versions reached more than 30 countries worldwide.


GEM collaborated with ADBEdF FranceAXA/IDF and the World Bank for various new projects that ranged from developing a new disaster risk transfer facility in Central Asia, to an advanced approach for seismic risk assessment of nuclear power plants; and from building capacity and risk understanding in Georgia to building a public-private partnership to protect public schools from natural hazards in Peru.


Five new partners teamed up with GEM to work in several related but different areas of research and application: innovative disaster resilience - One Concern; enhancement of loss modelling capabilities for better decision making - EdF and AXAXL; utilization of seismic sensors to assess building vulnerability - Safehub; and development of high-performance computing in the field of geophysical hazards - CHeeSe. Four public and private institutions also renewed their respective commitments to support GEM in the years ahead.


Last July, GEM launched its products and services strategy to reach a wider range of stakeholders. A new Products page was launched in April and has accumulated more than 2800 downloads of open products as of November.


On October 13th, UN’s IDRR Day, GEM released seven regional and national earthquake models giving open access to seismic hazard and risk data to the public. In a special edition released on October 22nd, Earthquake Spectra published 16 peer-reviewed papers documenting the GEM2018 earthquake mosaic of models published.


On World Bank’s Understanding Risk Forum 10th year anniversary (December 3rd), GEM launched three global earthquake social vulnerability and resilience maps aimed at better understanding the various socio-economic factors that can exacerbate the impact of earthquakes. In addition, GEM also released population and building exposure data for more than 40 countries under the METEOR project.


Due to the ongoing pandemic, Vitor put together an experimental map combining COVID-19 statistics over the GEM global earthquake risk map (2018) to show areas where a damaging earthquake could cause increases in COVID-19 cases due to displacement of people from damaged buildings or where health care systems may be further stressed due to human injuries.


GEM also contributed to two major publications: two case studies on risk analytics and seismic hazard assessment for the IDF Development of Risk Analytics Report, and the Hazard Definitions Report: Understanding Hazards to Reduce Risk co-published by UNDRR and the International Science Council.


This year also marked the 10th year anniversary of GEM’s flagship product: the OpenQuake engine software. About 250 people participated in a special GEM webinar marking the celebration. GEM also released three OpenQuake engine software updates, adding various features to enhance performance and capability to analyze multi-perils.


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