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2 User Needs In requesting this study, FEMA emphasized the need to learn users' opinions concerning the applicability of loss estimate studies as well as how studies should be conducted and presented in the future. Users were defined primarily as state and local officials responsible for earthquake hazard reduction and disaster response planning. A user needs workshop was held in September 1986. There was a broad spectrum of invitees from all levels and aspects of government. In addition to discussions in large and small groups, questionnaires were used both before and at the end of the workshop to evaluate the thinking of the participants. Owing to the breadth of the potential user community and limi- tations on funds and time, this effort was not a scientifically designed survey or experiment. Nonetheless the undertaking yielded consid- erable insight into the needs and thoughts of those who ultimately must use the results of loss estimates. The user group did not consider previous studies to have been as useful as they wished. The discussions also emphasized two questions: Who will use a loss study? and For what purpose? These two questions must be answered prior to selecting methods for producing loss est~rnates. 17
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18 CONFLICTS The study of user needs clearly brought out several important conflicts between what is desired and what is feasible, among differ- ent groups within the user community, and between the users and producers of loss estimates. The Scale of Studies Loss estimates of primary interest to this study typically are made on a regional basis, that is, they involve an area encompassing a number of political jurisdictions. Actions to reduce hazards must, however, usually be undertaken by the individual jurisdictions. Offi-- cials working on this local level consider it vital that loss estimates be disaggregated to the local level a need that can be in conflict with procedures often used to assemble inventories and compute losses. Specificity Versus [lability Local officials also would like to know precisely which buildings or other facilities are most susceptible to damage, so that mitigative actions can be targeted. On the other hand, those making loss esti- mates fear legal or political reprisals if they are specific in identifying potentially dangerous structures, and consider it essential that they preserve anonymity by lumping together considerable numbers of structures and evaluating losses only for such groups. The Scenario Earthquake The user group indicated that loss studies should focus on a relatively probable and yet damaging earthquake, and-it was deemed important that losses be estimated separately for different times of the day. Using too large and too improbable an earthquake may decrease the usefulness of a study. However, the group did not indicate a suitable level of probability for a scenario earthquake. There was little enthusiasm for being presented with losses from several different scenario earthquakes having different probabilities. Accuracy and Uncertainty Several users indicated that the usefulness and credibility of a study decrease when it gives a wide range of answers to determining
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19 potential loss from a scenario earthquake, even though they realized the considerable inevitable uncertainty in loss estimates. Cost Sharing Another theme that arose in the discussions involved a basic financial conflict among different levels of government. A recent trend has been the shifting of costs of earthquake programs from the federal government to lower levels, or in other words increasing state and local cost sharing. However, the user group said that funds available for such studies at state and local levels are generally inadequate. SPECIFIC SUGGESTIONS Perhaps the most important point to emerge from the discussion of user needs is the need for increased involvement of state and local officials and policymakers in the entire loss study process. This involvement has an educational value apart from the value of the report that is eventually produced. The state and local officials must ultimately use, disseminate, and explain the results of a study and hence must understand just what has been done in preparing the loss estimate. When loss studies are to be used by advocates of seismic policy and planning, officials must be involved In the loss estimation study process, and reports must be understandable and timely. The technical experts involved in producing the study will also benefit from an increased awareness of users' needs and attitudes. The survey of user needs identified types of facilities about which it is most essential to have reliable loss estimates. High on the list are dams, emergency public facilities (such as hospitals), and electric, water distribution, and highway systems. Also expressed was a need to know the location and vulnerability of facilities containing hazardous materials. Finally, the user group urged that inventories be prepared in such a way that the information is available to update loss estimates and can be disaggregated for nonearthquake purposes.
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