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Moderator Ron Eguchi, president and CEO of ImageCat, Inc., asked the panelists and audience to turn to a discussion of visions of the future for ways that technology could improve community resilience, including opportunities for the implementation of new technologies as well as existing and foreseeable obstacles. The session featured speakers with insight from both the public and private sectors. Panelists included Craig Davis, consultant at C. A. Davis Engineering; Peter Marx, vice president, Predix, at General Electric; and David Mar, practicing structural engineer, and president of Mar Structural Design. This session was an open dialogue between speakers and the audience, and the panelists opened with brief remarks.
Craig Davis began with a series of questions for the audience to consider: what might resilient infrastructure look like in the future; how could we best utilize emergent technologies; and, what will emerging technologies mean for operations of different systems? Davis pointed to the lifeline systems—sewer, gas, electric fuels, electric power, and transportation—as the “heart and soul” of what supports a community. Although many of these systems have been built over the last 100 years, he noted, emerging technologies have the potential to make them more reliable and “smarter” in the future. Currently, most lifeline systems are in their first generation as smart infrastructure. Going forward, new technologies and innovation will change how to approach maintenance, provide system failure notification, and even self-repair.
Davis highlighted two converging issues that cities are grappling with, namely aging infrastructure and technology’s rapid rate of advance. There is a need to merge these together for a new vision of the future that includes ways to operationalize advances in everyday use, improve normal service and reliability, and build resilience in the wake of extreme events. Not all emerging advanced technologies will be “high-tech,” rather, many are designed to incrementally move structures towards future goals. Davis acknowledged that not all damage to these structures can be avoided and, with the application of advanced technologies, they might temporarily become more vulnerable as operators learn the process of working with new technologies.
Davis discussed an ongoing project at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), the development of a seismic resilient pipe network in the region that is intended to
absorb seismic damage and adapt to provide water services to customers when those services are most needed. In general, water systems connect to supply sources, bring bulk water into service areas, and render water services that are significant to community recovery—e.g., hospitals and emergency evacuation centers.1 A seismic resilient pipe network could be designed as a grid with multiple reinforcements, similar to fishing net; some pipes would be very robust to an earthquake hazard where others might be damaged. Pipes would have to be prioritized based on their function and service in providing water following a catastrophic event.
Historically, the U.S. has not had earthquake resilient pipes. Japan, however, has been developing these pipes and LADWP acquired some to conduct a pilot program. These pipes were installed and tested with positive results. Now, multiple U.S. agencies are working together to create new and competitive resilient pipe technologies. For example, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the American Water Works Association are involved in efforts to standardize and test resilient pipes. “We’re creating a self-sustaining, resilient pipe market. There is a market out there and the companies have found a way to invest,” Davis stated. He credited the competent leadership of the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, and other leaders at the LADWP with the successful integration of this new resilient technology. “You need leadership to buy in, but they need ideas that they believe in to buy into,” said Davis.
The strategy for resilient pipe network construction is a gradual one. There are more than 7,000 miles of pipe in Los Angeles alone, and they cannot all be replaced simultaneously. Instead, as current pipes age and need to be replaced, the resilient pipe network will be built and expanded over time. This replacement cycle will occur over the next 120 years. Though the implementation strategy for this technology will be gradual, Davis already anticipates ensuing innovations. For example, increased data processing and the use of algorithms could improve instrumentation for water system components that fill and transport water from pipes. In turn, improved instrumentation could lead to advanced algorithms able to direct system hydraulics, and Davis proposed that this model could be run and restrained by data in close to real-time during an earthquake.
Despite its benefits, Davis warned that conservatism in the water industry may obstruct lifeline system improvement. This conservatism stems from fears of potential technological flaws that might interrupt lifeline system services, which are expected to be constantly reliable. Because water industry organizations would be held accountable for new technology they invest in, they often perceive new technologies as risky. To combat this conservatism, Davis suggested the following: “You get these groups of people to work together. You actually test them. You take little samples of this and implement it into the system in areas that aren’t so risky… You do it in ways where you can fill it out over time and then build it up.”
David Mar presented on design choices as infrastructure performance investments, and ways to communicate earthquake resilient design options to owners and stakeholders. His discussion centered on several projects, which he presented as examples of the benefits of performance-based design. These included the design of the Orinda City Hall, the San Francisco
1 Dr. Davis contended that all customers are not equal during a disaster, though he admits that the methodology for determining the order of customer import can be controversial.
Public Utilities Commission Headquarters, and a building in downtown San Francisco to house formerly homeless seniors.
In designing the Orinda City Hall in California 10 years ago, Mar suggested a more resilient design option that would allow the building to better withstand an earthquake. The exterior would be built with traditional stucco, but the interior was designed with a strong, yet flexible steel core made of earthquake resistant steel, and a rocking and re-centering frame. This strong core could flex if needed and certain parts that could be damaged in an earthquake were designed to be replaceable. In collaboration with Gregory Deierlein of Stanford University, and Jerome F. Hajjar of Northeastern University, this frame design was tested on the world’s largest shake table at the E-Defense in Japan. Testing was performed between 10-20 times at maximum earthquake levels to assess what damages the frame would incur. Eventually, some parts such as fuses needed to be replaced, but the frame’s post-tension cables never failed (Figure 6-1).
A similar design idea was applied to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Headquarters. In this case, the core of the building was composed of reinforced concrete, and featured a rigid foundation supported with post-tension cables (Figure 6-2). The most valuable element of this design is the building’s skin, which is roughly 25 percent of the entire cost of the structure.
Based on the manufacturer’s assessment of the skin’s capacity to resist load before suffering damage, Mar and others determined how large and strong to build the seismic system. The goal was to create a system that would return to its vertical state with no skin damage during a design-basis earthquake, and with minimal damage during the maximum earthquake magnitude.
For this design, they also reassessed the role of coupling beams. Traditionally, coupling beams are considered to provide high levels of ductility (the quality or state of being ductile); however, Mar equated ductility with damage: “That means these things attract load… they get damaged, and they’re really hard to repair.” Instead, Mar and others made thinner coupling beams with armor to protect the concrete from breaking into smaller pieces. With the use of posttensioning in the floor, these improved coupling beams act as re-centering agents by helping the core to align the structure.
The third example of performance-based design was a nine-story tower being designed for formerly homeless seniors in downtown San Francisco (Figure 6-3).
Mar’s goal was to design a resilient structure that allows residents to shelter in place without extra building costs. For this structure, he used alternatives for some of the conventional design; for example, using a plastic hinge at the base of the structure that would allow the building to rock at the base. Mar also collaborated with Geoffrey Rodgers, a professor at the University of Canterbury (U.K.), on a new lead extrusion damper that absorbs the energy generated when the foundation rocks. Mar’s team presented the owners with two design simulations: a conventional design and the high-performance one. Simulations modeled using FEMA P-58 and S-P3 software demonstrated that the high-performance design added $500,000 in resilient value for nearly the same cost (Figures 6-4 and 6-5).
Peter Marx is formerly the Chief Technology Officer for Los Angeles and currently vice president of Predix at General Electric. Over the years, Marx has worked on resilience issues through the lens of his work in Los Angeles and more specifically through computer technologies. He spoke on the benefits and disadvantages associated with increased connectivity through computer networks and open data.
Today, computer networks and connectivity are being utilized across communities in all different ways and this increased connectivity, or more devices connected to the internet, has made much more data available. For example, there are an estimated 400 seismometers operating within a network in southern California. Thus, with the use of computers, earthquake magnitudes and the effect of an earthquake’s waves in a specific location can be determined in almost real time. This capability, for example having a 50-60 second earthquake warning, enables damage mitigation to be performed immediately, such as opening fire station doors or injecting fuel systems with nitrogen. Though, like David Mar, Marx said he believed that damage cannot be completely avoided, he also maintained that cities “die” when they are unable to recover quickly. This increase in connectivity and data access helps to improve disaster mitigation and recovery times.
Federal and local governments have embraced open data; in particular, Los Angeles has one of the largest amounts of government published, open urban data. This data is available to
anyone on two websites. One site contains tabular data and the other contains geographic information system (GIS), or “geo-reference,” data. These websites offer information concerning traffic patterns, ships coming into a harbor, crimes reported in an area, etc. This provides the potential for individuals, corporations, and other entities to be better informed about their city and how to manage different situations.
As sensors proliferate, the Internet of Things is developing in parallel. Marx asserted that everyone is collecting incredible amounts of sensor data just by using smartphones, connected vehicles, and transportation systems. Marx noted that General Electric has been doing substantial work using time series data to support predictive maintenance: for example, data collected on power systems, to predict failures and proactively correct devices, and systems to avoid disruptions. Though Marx pointed out that predictive maintenance has not progressed to the point where it can be done comprehensively, he said he believed that improved freedom of information flow would enhance resilience.
Lastly, Marx touched on the subject of cyber security. He suggested that the computers and devices that society has become reliant upon represent a new form of disaster. Cyber intrusion, or the denial of services, are growing concerns. For example, in Ukraine a disruption occurred that resulted in the loss of power for an estimated 100,000 homes. To combat this type of threat, Los Angeles established its Cyber Intrusion Command Center (CICC) to provide cybersecurity for both government and companies. Marx concluded, “We’re now into a world where, frankly, it’s a great deal more complex, less visible, and we don’t quite have all the tools, patterns, processes, customs, and so on to deal with it.”
Ron Eguchi asked panelists to describe their vision of resilient buildings, lifelines, and communities, and the point at which they believe resilience has been achieved. Marx responded that a resilient community should be capable of enduring all problems in the physical or digital world, recover quickly, and improve: “I have yet to see a piece of software, which doesn’t eventually crash or have a problem, or require revision,” he stated. In his view, problems are inevitable. The response to these problems is of greater importance. Similarly, Mar expressed his doubts in the existence of a completely reliable technology, but believes that “good neighbors” can be 100 percent reliable. Davis answered that resilience exists when lifeline systems are able to provide services to communities when they need them.
Eguchi asked panelists whether they believed enough was done to educate the public about resilience and what levels of resilience to expect. Marx commented that rather than the resilience community teaching the public what to expect, the public has become increasingly vocal about their expectations. He added that governments, public entities, and corporations use traditional methods of communicating with the public, whereas, the public’s methods of communication have evolved. To both reach and receive communication, Marx suggested the need to accommodate the public’s new communication modes. Mar expressed his belief that building codes are inadequate and the engineering community has been complicit in the public’s miseducation on resilience. “It’s not uncommon to have people think they’ve got earthquake proof buildings,” he explained. According to Mar, speaking candidly about a building’s resilient value makes it difficult to compete, and contractors often block attempts to design better structures than the code requires. He believes the code sufficiently protects against the loss of
life; however, it could be improved if it were written based on a standard of resilience. He promoted the use of posters and other illustrations to facilitate discussion with the public.
An audience member stated he did not feel the “language of resilience” was completely developed. He asked panelists whether they felt that involving public relations personnel would improve the resilience community’s ability to communicate with the public. Davis responded that he believes the public understands resilience as a general idea; however, public relations personnel could help to communicate the nuances of performance-based design. He maintained that better communication would improve the efficacy of resilience efforts and help to better understand community needs.
Eguchi asked whether the panelists felt that the resilience community’s tendency to “talk to themselves”—i.e., its inability to communicate effectively with a more diverse section of society—was a long-standing problem common to technological pursuits. Marx answered that the kinds of dynamic communications systems needed to achieve true resilience are not in place. According to Davis, a true resilience system could inform the public on how to get the services they need. “I think we have a lot of issues with… ensuring that people know what to do in the case of a disaster,” he stated. An audience member proposed the expansion of Shakeout2 drills to facilitate communication. Davis agreed that Shakeout is as an example of effective communication.
An audience member noted that following a disaster “recovery people are pressed to do something fast, but the only plans we have are exactly what we did before.” How can this cycle be changed? Davis referenced the gradual implementation of a resilient pipe network from his presentation. He suggested that vulnerabilities can be identified and addressed in advance of a problem through resilience planning. Mar stated his belief that some problems can be “designed around” with the simulation of different scenarios and the inclusion of “backups.” Further, he suggested that forensic engineering and reverse engineering were effective practices for solving problems with infrastructure. “As engineers, sometimes we’re looking for answers, rather than solutions. We get stuck with notions of precision, rather than notions of confidence.”
Alex Stolz asked Mar whether he thought resilience-based design would be necessary in the future; whether the tools for this kind of design were available; and what would be necessary to establish this kind of design? Mar said he thought the technologies were already underway and maintained that establishing resilience-based design depended more on a mental approach to solving problems than on tools and technology.
2 The “Shakeout” is a drill running in many U.S. states and territories—notably California, Utah, Puerto Rico, and Oregon—and other countries. It encourages the public to practice safety during an earthquake and is coordinated by a wide range of local and national partners. More information is available at: www.shakeout.org.