Can We Make Buildings Resilient To Earthquakes?

By Francisco Mateo

The recent earthquake in Haiti and the human tragedy that it left in its wake has many security and risk practitioners wondering what more can be done to ensure we properly protect our assets against this devastating force of nature.  Just looking at the aftermath, the presidential palace; UN compound; the Montana Hotel and other important buildings all completely collapsed, makes anyone guess if more could’ve been done. At one of my crisis management meeting recently I raised the issue to our real estate/facilities department; how resistant are our buildings to an earthquake of such magnitudes? If our buildings, especially those above three stories high, can’t withstand the force of an earthquake above 6 points on the Richter scale, than we need to make sure we hire the right civil engineers to improve the buildings’ structural soundness.

We soon realized that not all civil engineers are experts on earthquake prevention on the built environment.  Luckily our technological advancement allows us to apply sophisticated software tools to the analysis of all variables related to a built structure and simulate any seismic activity to determine how it will affect your building, as well as, recommend the redesigns needed in order to make it more resilient. 

If we can draw one important lesson from the deep pain and suffering that the Haitian people are immersed today; it’s that as a matter of prevention to natural disasters we need to build better structures or improve those that have already been built.

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