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Quantifying the Post-Earthquake Downtime Induced by Safety Cordons Around Damaged Buildings

Graduate Researcher(s): 
Anne Hulsey (
Faculty Advisor/PI: 
Jack Baker
Greg Deierlein
Project Sponsor: 
National Institute of Standards and Technology


In order for policy makers to address seismic resilience, they need to know what risks an earthquake poses to their communities. The Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake in 2011 had a major unanticipated consequence: the Central Business District was cordoned off with restricted access for up to two years, due to concern that the heavily damaged buildings would collapse in an aftershock. These widespread, long lasting safety cordons meant that even undamaged buildings were inaccessible, delaying the recovery of basic community functions and the general economy.

This project aims to develop a community recovery analysis framework that incorporates the community downtime due to safety cordons, in addition to considering damage to individual buildings. The framework uses a geospatial information system (GIS) to capture the spatial relationships between buildings along with state-of-the-art Performance-Based Earthquake Engineering methods (FEMA P-58 and REDi) for simulating building damage.


In addition to providing a more holistic model for estimating downtime across a community, this framework can identify which buildings are most likely to require a cordon and induce the additional downtime on its neighbors. With this information, policy makers can create targeted policies for those buildings in order to mitigate the cordon-related delays to the community’s recovery.