Northridge 20 Symposium Brings Together Earthquake Experts to Improve Statewide Built Environment

January 17, 2014

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Northridge 20 Symposium Brings Together Earthquake Experts to Improve Statewide Built Environment
Hundreds pledge to make California communities more resilient

UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) – On the 20th anniversary of the Northridge earthquake, more than 600 people gathered to draw attention to the ongoing vulnerability of buildings where people sleep, eat and work, and the infrastructure that supports daily life.

Earth scientists, structural engineers, risk modelers, emergency managers and public officials participated in the Northridge 20 Symposium today, vowing to continue to improve the built environment and protect Californians against damaging earthquakes.

“We have made great progress over the last 20 years, but we still have much work to do to ensure our homes and communities are more resilient when the big one strikes,” said Janiele Maffei, co-chair of the Northridge 20 Symposium and Chief Mitigation Officer of the California Earthquake Authority. “This Symposium is an important step to renew our effort to collaborate on seismic safety issues.”

The lessons learned from Northridge led to two decades of dedicated research, seismic public policy development, building code development, seismic rehabilitation, insurance reform, mitigation and education. The new awareness and development prompted by the earthquake and its aftermath set the City of Los Angeles and other communities statewide on a trajectory to increase seismic resiliency.

Former Gov. of California Pete Wilson and former FEMA Director James Lee Witt, who were in office at the time of the Northridge earthquake, and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, kicked off the two-day Symposium.

Gov. Wilson recalled the earthquake’s impact on Los Angeles communities, and former FEMA Director James Lee Witt discussed the federal response and recovery operation and the importance of mitigation. Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones emphasized the value of earthquake insurance and financial preparedness.

Eight key disciplines were the focus of the conference, featuring earth science and seismology, ground motions and ground failure, lifelines and utilities, transportation, building types (residential, concrete, steel), and business and insurance. Speakers focused on what happened during the earthquake, what has been learned and accomplished in the past 20 years, and what steps need to be taken to become resilient to the damaging effects of earthquakes going forward.

“We are pleased to bring together so many different disciplines of earthquake professionals to focus on strengthening built structures,” said Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER) Director, and lead organizer of the Symposium, Steve Mahin. “Improving performance-based earthquake technology is critical to this effort.”

Today, breakout sessions will combine expert speakers with audience discussion to help refine recommendations and begin to prioritize future actions.

Attendees of the Northridge 20 Symposium signed a Statement of Support committing to make California communities more earthquake resilient. Specifically, experts pledged to issue formal recommendations to distribute to government and community leaders, and key stakeholders.

Participating Organizations: Applied Technology Council (ATC), AMEC, the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), California Earthquake Authority (CEA), California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), the California Seismic Safety Commission, Caltrans, City of LA Department of Building and Safety (LADBS), California & Vicinity Steel Information Council (CVSIC), Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Fugro, Los Angeles Tall Building Structural Design Council (LATBSDC), Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER), QuakeSmart, RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Foundation, Risk Management Solutions (RMS), Simpson Strong-Tie, Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC), Southern California Gas Company, the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California (SEAOSC), University of California, Los Angeles, the United States Geological Survey, and the Western States Seismic Policy Council.

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