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Seismic resilience

Michael Healy and Grace de Leon, from the smart Christchurch program, discuss innovative solutions to disaster management.
So, the background for this project is we have a lot of new buildings that’s been built here in Christchurch but a lot of them were de-scoping accelerometers being installed in their buildings because of the capital outlay. So, being in the Smart Christchurch foreground we had to think of a new approach, an innovative approach to this challenge and we have come up with EQRNet, which is seismic resilience as a service. So, with this, instead of having capital outlay and purchasing the sensors, we actually provide it as a service. The City, the Christchurch City Council is an anchor user, so we have 150 earthquake monitoring sensors now installed around the city.
So, there are 80 installed in traffic signal cabinets in the Christchurch CBD, about 30 installed in Council facilities, and another 40 installed in pumping stations. So, if there is a seismic event these sensors are triggered and it sends notification to the building warden if the building is safe to be occupied or it needs to be evacuated. [Chris Vas]: Michael, you might be able to shed some light on why EQRNet and why is it important for a city like Christchurch? [Michael Healy]: Yeah, well, I mean it’s well known that Christchurch has been through a series of, you know, devastating earthquakes over the past ten years and we’re well and truly in the throes of recovery now.
But one thing that you would have noticed at the time of the earthquakes, every earthquake is different and there’s a lot of factors feeding into how it affects a building. So, there’s the standard that the building has been built to, there’s the ground composition, there’s the depth of the actual event, and a whole range of other factors that feed into the effect on a building. So, no two earthquakes are the same. So, this system gives us the ability to quickly assess whether a building is safe to be in and to see if there’s repairs need to be done or whether we need to do a detailed engineer inspection.
So, I think the real time nature is key and it gives people confidence that it’s safe to be in a building. Which is kind of key to keeping city centres running when you do have medium to large events. [Chris Vas]: So, how is EQRNet different from GeoNet? [Grace de Leon]: So, GeoNet is an application that’s widely used in New Zealand that tells us the shaking from the epicentre. So, it doesn’t tell us how that shaking affects the building or the exact ground shaking in a particular location. So, if you are far from the epicentre it could vary widely street by street, building by building.
While EQRNet could actually tell you the effect of that particular seismic event because on the EQRNet we have data that is being loaded about the standard design of that particular building, so we can monitor what is the effect of that particular seismic event in that building. So, for example, the Kaikoura earthquake in 2016, which is the, Kaikoura is the epicentre, but the badly affected one is Wellington instead of Christchurch and Christchurch is near to Kaikoura. [Chris Vas]: Given EQRNet is underpinned by sensor-based technologies, can sensors actually give us good indication of how bad the damage is on the building? [Grace de Leon]: No.
It would give us an indication of what is the impact of that particular earthquake to the building, because it would automatically compare the standards that’s been loaded in the system. So, in the past, what they do is actually gather historical data but this time we have it in real time and it will provide us the output straight away, within 90 seconds. [Chris Vas]: Is this product in production at the moment or is it, is it part of a prototype or trial? [Grace de Leon]: For this one, we are doing a three-year trial. So, during this three-year trial the Smart Christchurch program is paying for it.
This enables us to transition it smoothly to the business, because what we think is that if we presented this, this product to the business, the business will just like, say, ‘We don’t have budget for it’. But if we slowly get this to transition and prove to them that there is a benefit for having this product, this one now is now being put into the long-term plan, so the budget for it. So, after three years the business is going to start to pay for it. [Michael Healy]: Yeah. And I think the other thing too, it’s important to get other users. So, we’re talking to private business owners in Christchurch about signing up to the service as well.
So, you’ve got large shopping centres and developments that have been built since the earthquake that could really benefit from the technology. And we’re also talking with other Government departments. The Ministry of Education, for example, we think would be really useful to sign up to the service for them so after an event they can tell whether schools are safe to occupy and they can give confidence to parents and students as well. So, we think there’s a range of different users that could benefit and so we’re contacting them, telling the story, and seeing if we can get more people signing up to the service.
So, find your champions and your allies and work closely with them. [Chris Vas]: Fantastic. Grace de Leon, Michael Healy, thank you very much for discussing with us EQRNet seismic resilience as a service. [Michael Healy]: Thanks Chris. [Grace de Leon]: Thank you.

In this week, you will hear from Michael Healy and Grace de Leon, from the smart Christchurch program, discuss how its innovation – ‘EQRnet’ – is being offered up as ‘seismic resilience as a service’ solution to the city to respond to disasters such as earthquakes.

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