Disaster Study Group

2017 Disaster Study Group – Global Earthquakes: Response, Recovery, and Resilience

The mission of the 2017 Global Earthquakes Group: Response, Recovery, and Resilience (GERRR) was to develop a comprehensive understanding of the context, decision processes, and organizational interactions generated by a seismic disaster. The group hosted a series of dialogues throughout the year in order to provide GSPIA students and the public the opportunity to participate in conversations with experts on the character of seismic risk, as well as earthquakes that occurred in Ecuador, Indonesia, Italy, Korea, and Nepal within the past two years. The group was generously funded by GSPIA’s Fund for Student Initiatives. 

 2017 Members of the Disaster Study Group

  • Seunghyun Lee, Ph.D., Public Administration and Public Policy, Student Leader 
  • Lucy Gillespie, Ph.D., Public Administration and Public Policy, Student Leader 
  • Dillon Asher, MID Candidate
  • Solidad Cabezas, MPPM Candidate
  • Cesar Gabriel Cedenor Monce, PhD International Affairs and Security
  • Allegra Agata Tartaglia, MID Candidate 
  • Alia Dwirahmani, MID Candidate
  • Sae Mi, Ph.D., Public Administration and Public Policy
  • Yoon Ah Shin, Ph.D., Public Administration and Public Policy

 GERRR Dialogue Summaries

Dialogue Summary: 2016 & 2017 Central Italy Earthquakes & Avalanche – Experience, Lessons Learned, and Challenges

Friday, November 17, 2017, 12:00PM
Dialogue Facilitator: Allegra Tartaglia, GSPIA MPIA Student

Featured Guest Speakers:

  • Dr. Gianluca Facchetti, Italy’s National Alpine Rescue Corps|
  • Professor Scira Menoni, Dept. of Architecture and Ubran Studies, Polytechnic University of Milan
  • Associate Professor Matteo Pozzi, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

 Balancing preparedness measures and adaptability during crisis were the themes that opened up the group’s dialogue on the major earthquakes that hit Central Italy in 2016 and 2017. Dr. Gianluca Facchetti, a medical doctor and member of the National Alpine Rescue Corps, first discussed Italy’s approach to search and rescue operations before turning to specific examples of how those standards played out in response to the Rigopiano avalanche in January 2017.

Prof. Scira Menoni, full professor at the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies at the Polytechnic University of Milan, followed Dr. Facchetti’s conversation by elaborating on Italy’s broader policy and procedures related to disaster risk and preparedness. Her presentation focused on decision-making during and after the central Italy seismic swarm from August 24, 2016 to February 2017. Dr. Facchetti described how the phases of seismic crisis management should be balanced between pre-defined procedures and adaptation to changing and unexpected situations. Dr. Facchetti explained how this is particularly true in the case of a seismic swarm, such as in Italy, given the length of time a swarm may persist (as compared to a single major earthquake). In reflecting on lessons learned from earthquake recovery, Dr. Facchetti noted that debris management and complex decisions regarding reconstruction and rebuilding are particular challenges following seismic disasters.


To that point and to conclude the dialogue, Associate Professor Matteo Pozzi (pictured below) with Carnegie Mellon University discussed structural engineering approaches to reduce seismic risk. Professor Pozzi’s presentation focused on tools to analyze probabilistic seismic risk, and methods to reliably mitigate those risks and optimize decisions related to civil infrastructure.

Dialogue Summary: Earthquakes in Indonesia & Korea – Lessons Learned & Risk Reduction Approaches

Friday, October 27, 2017, 12:00PM

Dialogue Facilitator: Seunghyun Lee, GSPIA CDM Graduate Student Assistant

 Featured Guest Speakers:

  • Jisun Ryu, Disaster Recovery Support Division Director, South Kor

  • ea Ministry of Interior and Safety
  • Dr. Znati Taieb, Chair, Dept. of Computer Science, University of Pittsburgh’s School of Computing and Information
  • Yoon Ah Shin, Graduate Student Researcher, Hazard SEES Project, GSPIA Center for Disaster Management

 The October 2017 earthquake dialogue was opened by Ms. Ryu, of South Korea’s Ministry of Interior and Safety (pictured below on screen). Ms. Ryu explained South Korea’s approach to disaster management, which is based on national government support to local officials and residents,

 and described the response to and recovery from the 2016 Gyeongju Earthquakes based on the specific characteristics of physical, financial and cultural damages. Ms. Ryu also described earthquake mitigation policies that the South Korean government has implemented since the Gyeongju earthquakes occurred.

Dr. Znati and Ms. Shin continued this discussion of understanding and mitigating risk, but in the context of earthquake and tsunami hazards in Indonesia. For the past several years, Dr. Znati, Ms. Shin, and Dr. Louise Comfort have worked to create a cost-effective, socio-technical infrastructure to enhance community resilience to tsunamis in Padang, Indonesia. The framework presented by Dr. Znati and Ms. Shin incorporates the infrastructure principles of adaptive, reliable and timely through a “light weight” design and cost-effective methodology, resulting in an undersea sensor network and community collective action network of Tsunami Evacuation Systems. Through simple smart phone app configuration, it enables local people to make informed evacuation decisions.

Dialogue Summary: Discussion with U.S. Geological Survey Scientists on Risk Reduction

Friday, January 20, 2017

Featured Guest Speakers:

  • Dr. Kenneth Hudnut, USGS Science Advisor
  • Mr. Dale Cox, USGS Project Manager, Science Application for Risk Reduction (SAFRR)

 Mr. Cox opened the dialogue by describing the SAFRR project, launched by the USGS as a means of demonstrating the utility of data modeling in advancing public awareness of hazards, and in improving preparedness, response, and resilience to future events. USGS researchers presented several model disasters (ShakeOut, ARkStorm, Tsunami Scenario, HayWired, and Southwest Climate Extremes) in which data from geologists, meteorologists, engineers, economists, and social scientists were used to produce informative, real-world scenarios and associated risk maps. Their models explored hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and extreme weather events within specific locations along the U.S. west coast, and identified critical intersections between public infrastructure and risk. Dr. Hudnut and Mr. Cox described how the SAFRR scenarios helped researchers better understand where vulnerabilities existed, and provided a practical way to communicate risks to community members, public officials, and policy makers. The scenarios demonstrated the importance of disaster modeling, and how the method can be employed elsewhere to anticipate and mitigate against future hazards.      

 CDM’s video conference with the USGS also provided an opportunity for student members to present their own individual research interests, to ask questions, and to gain valuable insight from experienced scientific researchers.  Comments provided to students revealed the extensive knowledge of SAFRR project members on a broad range of topics, as they thoughtfully discussed CDM student research initiatives in Indonesia, Italy, South Korea, Nepal, and Ecuador. The group’s interactions with USGS staff demonstrated the value of interdisciplinary communication in the context of disaster management, and was a revealing exercise in the exchange of information and ideas. 

Center for Disaster Management
3807 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260