Project Description

The Global Earthquake Model (GEM) is an international, collaborative initiative to calculate earthquake risk worldwide and to develop maps, software, and other tools for organizations and individuals to use to better understand and communicate this risk. GEM’s tools and information will be made available to the general public through an open website. GEM is supported by a number of global organizations, such as the World Bank and the United Nations, in addition to a growing number of country governments and private corporations.

GEM wants its tools to help increase earthquake risk awareness and to promote earthquake risk reduction activities, such as retrofitting programs or the adoption of seismic building codes. GEM hopes that many of the future “beneficiaries” of its tools are community leaders who might not have deep technical knowledge in earthquake science or engineering but who, because of their leadership positions, can use this information to advocate for risk reduction activities. But in order to create effective tools for these community leaders, GEM has to better understand what information non-experts need when working to make their cities more resilient from earthquakes. It is important, therefore, that GEM considers the needs of community-based beneficiaries, so that its risk information can better be used to raise awareness and promote earthquake risk reduction.

This 18-month project, which was led by Palo Alto, California-based GeoHazards International (GHI) and included a team of researchers at Colorado State University, was initiated in December 2010 and completed in June 2012. The activities and goals of the project are described below.

Main Activities

Identify beneficiaries

Five main classes of beneficiaries were identified for the focus of this research.

  1. teachers and school administrators
  2. business leaders
  3. local government officials, such as mayors, city planners or emergency managers
  4. health sector officials
  5. grassroots, community-based leaders, such as those representing faith-based groups or those working with vulnerable populations

Select representatives of these beneficiaries in cities around the world

The project team selected representatives of the five classes of beneficiaries in 11 different earthquake-prone cities around the globe. The following cities were chosen to ensure diversity in geographic location, national income, population size, and recent exposure to large earthquakes, among other distinguishing characteristics:

  • Bhutan: Thimphu
  • India: Guwahati, Delhi
  • Indonesia: Padang, Bandung
  • New Zealand: Christchurch
  • Peru: Chincha, Lima
  • Turkey: Istanbul, Antakya
  • United States: San Francisco

Elicit feedback from these representatives

The project team conducted face-to-face interviews in the various cities with at least 10 representatives in each city (from all 5 beneficiary categories) to better understand how GEM could most effectively communicate its earthquake risk information to them to promote action.

Analyze the feedback and present recommendations

The 133 interviews in the 11 cities were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. The project team analyzed the data collected for recurring themes and patterns and summarized the findings and recommendations in a workshop presentation and final written report to GEM.

In the final report, the project team provided recommendations to GEM, such as: what community leaders need to initiate earthquake preparedness and mitigation activities, which individuals or groups in communities are most likely to use GEM’s tools, and how GEM can best communicate its information in ways that are readily usable by its beneficiaries.








Project Status

The GHI and CSU team has now completed all phases of the study, including presenting findings in Pavia, Italy at the GEM offices and writing an executive summary and final report.



Project Funder:                               The Global Earthquake Model (GEM)

Principal Investigator:                    Brian Tucker, GeoHazards International (GHI)

CSU/CDRA Research Team:          Lori Peek, Jennifer Tobin-Gurley, and Liesel Schilperoort

GHI Research Team:                       Verónica Cedillos, Hari Kumar, Justin Moresco, and Kristen Yawitz

Project Timeline:                             December 2010-June 2012