Earthquake Early Warning in Nepal: Technology, Behavioral Science and Policy (2020-2021)

Background

In the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake Disaster, almost 9,000 people lost their lives. Another 22,000 people were injured, 3.5 million were left homeless and the total economic loss of $10 billion represented half of Nepal’s annual GDP. Subsequent studies of the rupture have reported that the redistribution of tectonic stress after these earthquakes is creating the conditions for another rupture that could eclipse the 2015 disaster.

Innovative seismic sensing technologies are urgently needed to develop sensors that can reliably identify the microlevel shaking that indicates the potential for a damaging shake. However, these technologies must be informed by cultural settings, political commitment and public receptiveness, which means that engineers, policymakers, social psychologists and data scientists must work together to address the behavioral science and policy questions that attend pre- and post-disaster response.

Project Description

Building off of an existing collaboration between students and faculty at Duke and Tribhuvan University of Kathmandu, this project team will explore approaches to the development of earthquake early warning systems in the Kathmandu Valley. The team will develop a framework for assessing how technological design goals can be informed by cultural settings, political commitment and public receptiveness and will investigate how to integrate behavioral science research and policy questions into disaster response measures and methods.

Team members will explore how the existence of an early warning system affects perceptions of self-efficacy, the utility of mitigation efforts and individuals’ perceived locus of control in the context of both a future earthquake event and in response to a specific warning. Working alongside staff at the Centre for Disaster Management Studies and the Department of Disaster Planning at Tribhuvan University, team members will consider survey tools and evaluate ongoing surveys related to perceptions of self-efficacy for mitigation and the meaning of earthquake early warnings.

In collaboration with Tribhuvan University, the team will also develop a seismic monitoring network that will integrate probabilistic hazard analysis, geophysical modeling and smart sensing technology. In its pilot stage, this project is intended to co-develop expertise and build capacity at Duke and Tribhuvan in the areas of seismic data analysis, microcontroller-based sensing and network communication, ground motion attenuation relationships, hazard analysis and hazard communication.

Anticipated Outputs

High-fidelity smart sensing networks for early earthquake warning

Timing

Summer 2020 – Spring 2021

  • Summer 2020 (optional): Selected students travel to Nepal for six weeks of fieldwork and workshops
  • Fall 2020: Hold weekly Skype calls with collaborators in Nepal; break into specialized subgroups; develop framework for technological design goals; investigate how to integrate behavioral science research and policy questions into disaster response measures and methods; begin prototyping of high-fidelity smart sensing networks
  • Spring 2021: Complete prototype; present research findings

 

Image: Student Research Symposium held at Innovation Hub of U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu on January 3, 2020, by U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Student presenting research.

Team Leaders

  • Henri Gavin, Pratt School of Engineering-Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Rachael Lau, Pratt School of Engineering-Civil & Environmental Engineering

/graduate Team Members

  • Catherine Harris, MIDP 2 Year Masters
  • Ola Hossni, MIDP 2 Year Masters

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Sydney Cikovic, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Li Hu
  • Kathryn Jenkins
  • Jiayi Liang
  • James Marek, Civil Engineering (BSE)
  • Dea Muca
  • Rebecca Schmitt, Mechanical Engineering (BSE), Mathematics (BS2)
  • Leah Schwartz, Computer Science (BS)
  • Yuzhuo Tan
  • Mishek Thapa, Statistical Science (BS)
  • Arthur Tsang
  • Daniel Winkelman, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE)
  • Aston Yong

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Nanda Adhikari, Tribhuvan University - Institute of Engineering
  • Basanta Adhikari, Tribhuvan University - Institute of Engineering
  • Lok Adhikari, National Seismological Centre
  • Rabindra Dhakal, Nepal Academy of Science
  • Suresh Dhungel, Nepal Academy of Science
  • Ramesh Guragain, Nepal Society for Earthquake Technology
  • Santosh Gyawali, US-AID Nepal, US Embaassy Kathmandu
  • Bharat Mandal, Tribhuvan University - Institute of Engineering
  • Josue Rivera-Olds, US Embassy Kathmandu
  • Shana Scogin, University of Notre Dame
  • Surya Shrestha, Nepal Society for Earthquake Technology
  • Nagendra Sitoula, Tribhuvan University - Institute of Engineering
  • Stephanie Wilcock, US-AID Nepal, US Embassy Kathmandu