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GEM completes USAID-supported Global Vulnerability Database Project


Jun 27, 2018

The completion of the Global Vulnerability Database project, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) resulted in the development of vulnerability and fragility models for the most common building classes at a global scale. This has considerably addressed the lack of reliable fragility and vulnerability models for many regions of the globe, which are fundamental for seismic risk assessment at various scales (see map below).


The project results also contributed significantly to our understanding of seismic risk - giving us scientific insights important for the improvement of building codes around world. "The lack of vulnerability models is undoubtedly the strongest impediment to the understanding of seismic risk at any scale. This project provides not just default functions for places where nothing exists, but also an open framework that can be used to improve existing functions, or develop completely new ones,” Vitor Silva, GEM Risk Coordinator.


Within this project, GEM developed a comprehensive catalogue of the most representative building classes by conducting a worldwide survey targeted at experts in the field of structural and earthquake engineering. A supporting web-based application accessible through the OpenQuake-platform at was also created for this purpose.


Currently, the app has collected over 500 entries from 50 different countries. The database is designed to be an open repository of building information, and intended to be continuously revised and improved beyond the project by the scientific community. Data collected from the global survey produced a list of building typologies comprising over 200 classes distributed between masonry (15%), concrete (51%), steel (23%) and wooden (11%) construction.GEM has extensively tested and calibrated the fragility and vulnerability models by computing seismic risk for several countries (e.g. Colombia, Guatemala, Panamá and Nicaragua), and running earthquake scenarios for different nations (e.g. Chile, Greece and Turkey).

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