required to make the ballpark calculations for performance-based engineering design emphasizes the need for additional quantitative information before more precise estimates of the economic benefits of seismic monitoring can be determined.
After every damaging earthquake in the United States, data gathering and applied research should be sponsored—as a collaborative activity among the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) agencies—to document how seismic monitoring information reduced uncertainty and provided economic benefits in both the long and the short term. Comprehensive reports should be published within one year after the event for short-term benefits, and within 10 years after the event for intermediate- and long-term benefits.
The relatively modest funding required to achieve a significant improvement in seismic monitoring capabilities should be considered in light of the potential for reducing the cost of constructing new facilities, strengthening existing structures to achieve proper performance, and avoiding losses from major damaging events. The approximately $200 million investment required for improved seismic monitoring infrastructure should be considered from the perspective of the more than $800 billion invested annually in building construction, the $17.5 trillion value of existing buildings in the United States, and the possibility of a $100 billion plus loss from a single, major earthquake in an heavily populated urban environment.
After assessing the considerable range of potential economic benefits from improved seismic monitoring that will be provided by full implementation of the ANSS, the committee concludes:
Full deployment of the ANSS offers the potential to substantially reduce earthquake losses and their consequences by providing critical information for land-use planning, building design, insurance, warnings, and emergency preparedness and response. In the committee’s judgment, the potential benefits far exceed the costs—annualized buildings and building-related earthquake losses alone are estimated to be about $5.6 billion, whereas the annualized cost of the improved seismic monitoring is about $96 million, less than 2 percent of the estimated losses. It is reasonable to conclude that mitigation actions—based on improved information and the consequent reduction of uncertainty—would yield benefits amounting to several times the cost of improved seismic monitoring.