Post Disaster Cities - Engineering for Resilience

Funding: Core Funding (GNS Science)
Contact: S.R. Uma 

Team members are:
Rob Buxton
Vinod Sadashiva

Post Disaster Cities Graphic

The programme aims to minimise post-disaster trauma and economic impact from geological hazards for community in urban areas by: (i) assessing likely post-event performance of built-environment in continuing to support social needs; and by (ii) identifying alternative strategies for pre-disaster recovery planning in immediate (emergency), short, medium and long term perspectives to achieve acceptable levels of continued functionality.

The research is committed to work with stakeholders responsible for developing disaster recovery plans for the community by providing resilient built-environment.

 Programme Objectives

  •   To characterise the city in terms of built-environment, occupancy and social dimensions
  •   To create impact scenarios estimating the performance of: (i) buildings in terms of habitability, repair cost and downtime according to their occupancy class; (ii) lifeline services supporting the functioning of buildings and its residents/business considering their interdependencies using risk models
  •   To translate the damage of built environment into social and economic disruption within a community and identify contributions from each significant sector
  •   To establish new performance goals for significant sectors with the stakeholders of the community if the likely impact of existing built-environment is unacceptable
  •   To develop alternative strategies to achieve improved performance of built-environment in order to meet social demands at different instants of recovery phase

Currently, our research focuses on the capital, Wellington City, because of its known high level of seismic risk. Our concern is that the urban Wellington region is uniquely vulnerable to large earthquakes. Loss of services, especially water and food (damage to pipelines and roads) and buildings could make large areas uninhabitable for weeks to months. Damage to apartments and houses could create a refugee crisis, and damage to commercial and industrial buildings could put large numbers of people out of work for weeks and severely affecting the community life.

Our research will deliver better understanding of anticipated performance of existing built-environment and impact on the community priorities. Further, it will underpin the recovery strategies by developing improved models for predicting disruption of services and displacement of residents of buildings that serve vital community functions. Our primary focus is to develop recovery planning strategies while identifying means of reducing damage and disruption to buildings and infrastructure. We endeavour to work with community stakeholders to understand their needs and to establish performance goals for built-environment that serves community needs. 


Uma, S.R.; Sadashiva, V.K.; Buxton, R.; Nayyerloo, M. 2017 An integrated earthquake impact assessment on the built-environment for community resilience planning. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: GNS Science. GNS Science report 2016/64. 71 p.; doi: 10.21420/G2QS3P

Uma, S.R.; Sadashiva, V.K.; Lin, S.-L.; Nayyerloo, M. 2017 Fragility curves for New Zealand buildings with reflections from the Canterbury earthquake sequence. paper 309 IN: 16th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering, 16WCEE 2017, Santiago Chile, January 9th to 13th 2017. International Association for Earthquake Engineering

Sadashiva, V.K.; King, A.B.; Matcham, I. 2017 Exploring a risk evaluation tool for New Zealand State Highway Network National Resilience Project. paper 3957 IN: 16th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering, 16WCEE 2017, Santiago Chile, January 9th to 13th 2017. International Association for Earthquake Engineering

Cousins, W.J.; Nayyerloo, M.; Deligne, N.I. 2014 Estimated damage and casualties from earthquakes affecting Auckland. GNS Science consultancy report 2013/324. [53] p

Nayyerloo, M.; Cousins, W.J. 2014 Performance of the Wellington area bulk water supply in a Wellington Fault earthquake. GNS Science consultancy report 2013/238. 83 p

Buxton, R.; Uma, S.R.; King, A.B. 2010 Modelling interdependences of critical infrastructure. paper 24 IN: Earthquake prone buildings : how ready are we? : 2010 NZSEE conference. Wellington: New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering 

Cousins, W.J.; Buxton, R.; Horspool, N.A.; Johnston, D.M. 2015 Underwriting the future. p. 198-201 IN: Graham, I.J. (chief ed.) A continent on the move : New Zealand geoscience revealed. 2nd ed. Wellington, N.Z.: Geoscience Society of New Zealand. Geoscience Society of New Zealand miscellaneous publication 141.

Uma, S.R.; King, A.B.; Holden, T. 2012 Inter-storey drift limits of buildings at ultimate limit states. paper 011 (10 p.) IN: Implementing lessons learnt : 2012 Conference, 13-15 April, Christchurch, New Zealand. Christchurch: New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering 

Uma, S.R.; Zhao, J.X.; King, A.B. 2010 Seismic actions on acceleration sensitive non-structural components in ductile frames. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 43(2): 110-125

Uma, S.R.; Beattie, G. 2011 Observed performance of industrial pallet rack storage systems in the Canterbury earthquakes. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 44(4): 388-393