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Risk and Hazard Evaluation, Mitigation Assessment, Operational Risk Audits

SPA can probabilistically quantify risk from earthquake shaking, liquefaction, fire following earthquake, flood, hurricane, and other perils, for individual facilities, groups of facilities, or large portfolios such as concern property insurers and local governments. We perform benefit-cost analysis of catastrophe risk mitigation.


Scawthorn developed one of the first approaches to assessing building-specific seismic vulnerability on a theoretical basis, as well as developing empirical seismic vulnerability functions from earthquake experience data.  He has significant experience in the analysis of expected ground motions and seismic hazard for critical structures, networks and regions. He developed innovative methods in hazard analysis, including the first application of extreme-value statistics for the development of uniform-hazard spectra.  He created pioneering commercial and public-domain loss-estimation software for earthquake (EQEHAZARD), wind (USWIND), and flood (HAZUS).  He developed the first stochastic modeling program to estimate the effects of fire following earthquake and applied the software for major insurance studies and for the benefit of cities for use in fire risk mitigation. He led the first national overview of lifeline seismic vulnerability and direct and indirect economic impact of disruption, including electric systems, water systems, transportation systems, gas and liquid fuel supply systems, and emergency service facilities.  Dr Scawthorn developed rapid visual screening tools for potential seismic risk as well as data-collection protocols for improving risk evaluation based on observable, detailed earthquake damage information. 

Porter advanced building-specific seismic vulnerability assessment, creating a detailed formalized methodology that accounts for all important sources of uncertainty and is capable of estimating probabilistic repair costs, repair duration, loss of function, and loss of life safety.  He has employed this methodology to quantify the benefit of seismic retrofit for woodframe, steel, and reinforced concrete buildings. He developed a method called an earthquake operational risk audit that considers major sources of business continuity risk to critical facilities, and implemented it for a utility, a dry-goods retailer, and others. He has estimated for the largest US earthquake insurer the reduction in expected annualized loss if insureds seismically retrofit their homes.  He has coordinated a multi-university effort to develop a second-generation performance-based earthquake engineering methodology and to apply it to buildings and bridges.  He has developed empirical wind vulnerability functions for USWIND and quantified the effects of liquefaction on buried pipeline.  Dr Porter has evaluated for city governments the costs and benefits of competing measures to mitigate the risk from unreinforced masonry bearing-wall buildings.

Past studies

A benefit-cost analysis of all FEMA-funded hazard mitigation since 1993. Porter helped to lead this Congressionally mandated study by the National Institute of Building Sciences that showed, "for the first time ever, that there is now quantifiable evidence that disaster mitigation works. Click here for press release or a link to the study report.

Numerous probabilistic seismic hazard analyses, for critical facilities, networks and regions.  Project include numerous offshore oil platforms, data processing centers, infrastructure networks and nuclear facilities. Development of stochastic earthquake catalogs for multi-country regions, for various insurers and the World Bank.


Key Benefits

bulletEvaluation by experts who have led development of multi-hazard risk-evaluation techniques
bullet Detailed, actionable risk-mitigation options whose benefit can quantified.
bulletFamiliarity with structural, nonstructural, equipment, and other components


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