In this issue:

Vol. 2, Issue 1 of the Center of Excellence for Risk-Based Community Resilience Planning's newsletter: Community Resilience News. The CRN provides updates to the broader community on what is happening within the Center, potential opportunities to communicate and participate in community resilience activities related to the CoE, and around the world.

If you have article ideas, would like to make an announcement, or have your article considered for an upcoming issue of CRN, please contact Connie Hale. The CRN is published on-line quarterly - if you are interested in receiving the CRN via email, sign up here.

The final quarter of 2016 has been an active one for the Center of Excellence - the end of the Center's second year will mean some changes in Center thrusts - in Year 1 and 2 the CoE focus was on modeling of infrastructure, economics, and social metrics, driven mainly with a virtual testbed community known as Centerville. In Year 3, CoE and NIST researchers will focus on system integration within IN-CORE 1.0, the computational modeling environment for risk-informed decision support being developed within the CoE, and refining the architecture of IN-CORE 2.0 with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and UIUC. In addition, the first version of IN-CORE will be validated using a system-level hindcast for the 2011 Joplin tornado and a number of hazard-focused testbeds that have been initiated, including Galveston-Bolivar Peninsula, TX (hurricane/storm surge), Seaside, OR (tsunami and earthquake+tsunami), and Shelby County, TN (earthquake, riverine flood). In late April this year a Public Webinar will be the featured event at the CoE's semi-annual meeting and we look forward to sharing research activities from 2016 with you.


John W. van de Lindt, Ph.D., F. ASCE
Bruce R. Ellingwood, Ph.D., P.E., N.A.E

by Ifa Kashefi

Ifa Kashefi is a member of the CoE's External Assessment Panel. Dr. Kashefi has over 30 years of structural engineering experience, extensive managerial and leadership experience in the private and public sectors. As the Chief of the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) Permit and Engineering Bureau since 2008, she has directed the entire Bureau's operations and technical enhancement programs including development and implementations of the Bureau administrative policies and procedures.

In an effort to achieve Mayor Garcetti's goal for the City of Los Angeles to become a resilient City, in November of 2015, the City Council approved an ordinance which mandates retrofit of existing Wood Soft-Story buildings and Non-Ductile Concrete buildings. The ordinance targets Wood Soft-Story buildings with two or more stories which contain more than four residential units where a permit for construction of a new building was applied for before January 1, 1978. In addition, the ordinance provisions for Non-Ductile Concrete buildings apply to any existing concrete building built pursuant to a permit application for a new building that was submitted before January 13, 1977. The ordinance was developed through a collaborative effort with the Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC), industry stakeholders, the guidance of Dr. Lucy Jones, and the City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) to address building weaknesses in these two types of buildings.

Wood Soft-Story Buildings:

Prior to the adoption of the of this retrofit ordinance, LADBS created a task force, composed of engineers and inspectors, who have filtered a list of 30,000 apartment buildings (through the Google map website search, LADBS records search, and site inspection) and have identified wood buildings within the scope of the ordinance. After completing this process, LADBS compiled a database with approximately 13,500 Wood Soft- Story buildings.

The process of sending Order to Comply Notices to owners has started and will continue in accordance to the priority designation prescribed in the ordinance. As of now, LADBS has sent out 600 orders. The LADBS goal is to complete sending out orders as noted below by the end of 2017.

The owners are then responsible to respond to the following time limits from the date of the order:

  1. Within 2 years, the owner must submit to LADBS for review:
    1. Structural analysis and plans to demonstrate that the building, as is or as previously retrofitted meets or exceeds the requirements; or
    2. Structural analysis and plans to demonstrate that the proposed structural alteration meets or exceeds the requirements; or
    3. Plans for the demolition of the building.
  2. Within 3 1/2 years after service of the order, obtain all necessary permits for retrofit or demolition.
  3. Within 7 years after service of the order, complete construction or demolition under all necessary permits and obtain final inspection approval. In turn, Certificate of Compliance will be issued to the owner.

Non-Ductile Concrete Buildings:

The time frame of 25 years to complete the process was stipulated for the retrofit of Non-Ductile Concrete buildings, partly due to the fact that this process requires more extensive analysis and design and is a lot more costly than the retrofit of Wood Soft-Story buildings. The owners of Non-Ductile Concrete buildings within the scope of this ordinance shall comply with the following time limits:

  1. Within three years after service of the order, complete and submit the designated LADBS check list form to the Department for review and approval.
  2. If the building is determined to be a Non-Ductile Concrete building, within ten years after service of the order, submit a detailed evaluation of the building (as prescribed in the ordinance) documenting whether the building meets or exceeds the requirements.
  3. Within 25 years after service of the order, complete all necessary demolition or retrofit work on the building.

Currently, the Department is in the process of establishing a list of concrete buildings impacted by the ordinance, utilizing available resources such as the Los Angeles County Assessor's list, inventory list of Non-Ductile Concrete buildings established by the University of California researchers and research of the LADBS records.

This ordinance is a critical first step towards the strengthening of the City's most vulnerable buildings and one step closer to achieving the Mayor's vision to become a resilient City.

by John W. van de Lindt

An interdisciplinary CoE team of researchers, Post-Docs, students, and NIST researchers traveled to Lumberton, NC in November to meet with area community leaders, business owners, local utility companies, and households to begin collecting data on households and building and infrastructure damage. From Sept 28 - Oct 10, 2016, Hurricane Matthew was an extremely destructive and long-lived tropical cyclone which became the first Category 5 Atlantic hurricane since Hurricane Felix in 2007. It made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane in the United States but produced significant rainfall resulting in riverine flooding many miles inland. The hurricane affected many areas such as Daytona Beach, Fayetteville, Georgia, Lumberton and more. Lumberton, NC was impacted with flooding from the Lumber River several days after landfall; the situation was exacerbated by a much larger than average percent of residents living below the U.S. poverty line. A team of 24 CoE researchers participated in the study which consisted of between four and six interdisciplinary teams of sociologists, engineers, and economists and consisted of a new methodology for sampling developed under the leadership of the social-science-based Texas A&M team. The engineering portion of the survey was developed by CSU and OSU researchers and the social science portion of the survey was developed by TAMU, CSU, KU, and ISU researchers. One of the key themes within the CoE is that community resilience metrics are often measured by socio-economic factors within a community and thus correlating human decision-making following a disaster with engineering demand parameters such as damage is integral to community resilience modeling. Interdisciplinary teams are critical for community resilience - focused field studies. A preliminary report will be released in late April - be sure to sign up for the newsletter to receive the Lumberton, NC report. Read more on the field study in CSU's Source at

November 3-4, 2016 the Center for Risk-Based Community Resilience Planning held its Semi-annual Meeting in Gaithersburg, MD. More than ninety Center personnel attended including the Center's Directors, leadership team, researchers, post-docs, graduate students, NIST collaborators and members from our External Assessment Panel. In addition to the general meeting, several task committees held meetings. On the evening of November 3rd, Glenn Bell, a member of our EAP, and Chief Executive Officer of Simpson, Gumpertz and Heger Engineers, gave an after-dinner presentation on his vision of how engineering education and professional training will need to evolve over the next two decades in order for the profession to remain competitive and be able to attract highly motivated and qualified young engineers. Glenn emphasized the need to not only maintain technical excellence but also to develop an enhanced sensitivity to human needs in the built environment, brought about by liberal education and international experiences. To a Center audience consisting of a mix of engineers, social scientists and economists, Glenn's remarks resonated with the objectives and aspirations of the Center.

by Mikhail Gershfeld and Giuseppe Lomiento

The evaluation of community resilience using analytical models relies on the quality of the input data capturing critical attributes of the built environment inventory: buildings, transportation networks, water networks, power networks and others. The building inventory stands out due to its inherently heterogeneous nature. An individual building or a group of buildings could vary significantly in their occupancy, design performance goals, materials and construction quality. In physics-based building models, fragility functions are used to quantify vulnerability of the building inventory (damage, casualties and downtime) to various natural and man-made hazards. As a growing number of fragilities is developed, a taxonomy for a variety of building topologies at different levels of granularity is needed to manage and link them to the building inventory within a community. The development of the structural taxonomy for buildings has been an ongoing effort for over 30 years with multiple building taxonomies proposed worldwide. One of the Center's tasks was to select an existing or develop a new building taxonomy for IN-CORE that would be essentially complete, simple and collapsible, international in scope, user friendly and hazard independent. A number of international research efforts with similar goals were reviewed and analyzed. The HAZUS-MH, SYNER-G and GEM-BT were identified as three likely candidates for adoption. Although none of these taxonomies fully addresses projected Center needs, the GEM-BT best reflects the Center's vision and is most open to future developments. It is an open-source taxonomy with an active community continuing to expand its reach and scope. GEM started in 2007 and became a legal entity in 2009 ( The beta version of GEM taxonomy was released in 2012 as part of the Global Earthquake Model project. It continues its operation and maintains the GEM-Nexus open source collaborative platform ( The GEM-BT 2.0 is the latest version of the GEM-BT taxonomy and addresses eleven building attributes and proposes the addition of more attributes that focus on hybrid systems. The Center adoption of GEM-BT is an important step toward standardization of fragilities for physical infrastructure, buildings in this case. The work on taxonomy development is continuing in the current year's effort.

by Dan Cox

The NIST center is using the Galveston, TX, testbed to understand and model community damage, loss and recovery from hurricanes. Hurricanes represent a multi-hazard problem, brining strong winds, storm surges, rain and related flooding that can persist for several days. In addition, these natural hazards, there are cascading consequences such as the generation of large debris fields that can increase the damage and inhibit rescue and recovery efforts. For the Galveston testbed, we are focusing on housing recovery as a key indicator of community resilience, including the interdependencies among the building, roads, water supply and electric power networks.

by Jason Averill

The Department of Commerce Silver Medal is one of the highest honors conferred by the Department of Commerce to an employee. It recognizes exceptional performance characterized by noteworthy or superlative contributions that has a direct and lasting impact within the Department. Therese McAllister, the Community Resilience Group Leader and Program Manager at NIST, was among a group of four NIST professional staff who were recently honored by the DOC Silver Medal.

Pictured, in order are: Erica Kuligowski, Dave Butry, Steve Cauffman, and Terri McAllister.

The group is recognized for outstanding leadership in the development of the Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems. The Guide "operationalizes" community resilience, using a six-step process to help communities think through and plan for their particular hazards, their social and economic needs post-event, and recovery of the built environment. The citation read, in part: "The nominees' extraordinary public outreach efforts, including five regional workshops, public comment periods, federal agency engagement, and targeted outreach to key stakeholders, were critical to success."

Recent meetings of interest

Center Co-Directors, Bruce Ellingwood, John van de Lindt and Prof. Quanwang Li from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, recently organized a three-session Workshop on Optimizing Risk Mitigation Strategies for Enhancing Urban Resilience under Natural Hazards, which was held at the Urban Transitions Global Summit in Shanghai, September 5 - 9, 2016. The Workshop consisted of three technical sessions, providing an international forum for sharing advances in analytical methods for quantifying the impact of natural disasters on the built environment, identifying performance metrics (in social and economic terms) that match those impacts to the social and economic infrastructure and support systems that are necessary to maintain the health of an urban area, and informing decision making processes aimed at optimally enhancing resilience at different urban scales. The workshop included experts from China, Korea, Europe, and the United States. Center investigators Paolo Gardoni and Hussam Mahmoud were among the workshop participants. It was striking that the Center's community resilience goals have no international boundaries.

Center Co-Directors, John Van de Lindt, Bruce Ellingwood, NIST's Community Resilience Group Leader, Therese McAllister, and Applied Research Associates' Frank Lavelle, recently organized the First International Workshop on Modeling of Physical, Economic and Social Systems for Resilience Assessment, which was held in Washington, DC, October 19-21, 2016. The workshop was co-sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Colorado State University, and included invitees from China, Europe, Canada and the United States. Invited presentations dealt with methods of system analysis, socio-economic impact of disasters on communities and decision models, followed by extensive discussions in an open forum by those in attendance. Products of this workshop will include a Proceedings, with recommendations for future actions. A second international workshop is tentatively scheduled for October, 2017 in Europe. Future editions of this Newsletter will contain further information.

Upcoming Meetings, Conferences, and Workshops of Interest:

  • 3rd Global Summit for Research Institutes for Disaster Risk Reduction (GSRIDRR) and the 1st GADRI General Assembly being held at Kyoto University, Uji Campus, Kyoto Japan- March 19-21, 2017.
  • ASCE/ SEI Structures Congress 2017, Denver, CO April 6-8, 2017
  • 2017 Annual Natural Hazards Research and Application Workshop - July 9-12, 2017
  • 12th International Conference on Structural Safety and Reliability (ICOSSAR 2017), Vienna, Austria, August 6 - 10, 2017
  • Resilience Week 2017, Wilmington, DE, September 18 - 22, 2017

This past January, NIST launched a new BLOG called Taking Measure, Just a Standard Blog. The posts, about one a week, are written by NIST's researchers and staff and provide a behind-the-scenes look at a broad range of science and technology research. Catch up on the recent articles and sign up for blog email alerts here:

Much of the first year's effort in the Center revolved around the Centerville Testbed, a task that was designed to enable fundamental resilience assessment algorithms to be initiated and tested at an early stage of the Center research program before the refined measurement methods and supporting data classifications and databases necessary for a more complete have fully matured and to provide a structure for the engineers, social scientists and economists in the Center to work together toward a common goal. A Special Issue of Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure, a new journal edited by the Center's Paolo Gardoni, has recently been published which contains a collection of papers on the Centerville Testbed, focusing on developing measurement science for community resilience assessment. Topics covered include building portfolio fragility assessment, optimizing retrofit strategies, performance assessment of electrical power networks, network interdependencies, and modeling economic consequences of natural disasters using computable general equilibrium models.

Professor Lori Peek, who is one of the social science investigators on the Center team, has recently accepted an appointment as Director of the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado Boulder and Professor in UC's Department of Sociology, after serving on the faculty at CSU for the past decade. Since 1976, the Natural Hazards Center has served as a clearinghouse of knowledge concerning social science research and policy aspects of disaster. The goal of the Center is to strengthen communication among researchers and the individuals, organizations, and agencies concerned with reducing damages caused by disasters. As the new director, Lori is looking forward to continuing to facilitate relationships with local practitioners, policy makers, and researchers, while also building new linkages to the private sector and across the public. A full announcement of Lori's transition is available here:

The Community Resilience Group (CRG) at NIST has recently added three new staff, who are contributing to the Center's research effort under the collaborative agreement between NIST and the Center investigators, and we are very pleased to introduce them to readers of the Center Newsletter:

Dr. Ken Harrison is an Operations Research Analyst, whose research and experience is in mathematical modeling to support decision-making. At NIST, he is developing infrastructure systems models and decision support tools to aid in community resilience planning. He joined NIST from the University of Maryland and NASA where for eight years he worked in the NASA's Hydrological Sciences Laboratory as a research scientist affiliated with Maryland's Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC). At NASA, he designed and implemented the Uncertainty Estimation subsystem of the NASA Land Information System (LIS) software, and conducted research investigating the value of NASA Earth Science satellite data for reducing hydrologic prediction uncertainty. Prior to NASA he was on the faculty of the University of South Carolina Department of Civil Engineering, where he studied and taught systems analysis.

Dr. Maria Dillard is a Research Social Scientist. Maria has more than ten years of experience in social science research within academic and applied settings. In her current role, Maria will expand NIST's research on community resilience with a particular emphasis on the social dimensions of disasters and recovery. Previously, she was a Social Scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Centers for Coastal and Ocean Science. Maria has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Pittsburgh with a focus on the measurement of social-ecological resilience for coastal and island communities. Maria has professional experience in community engagement through positions focused on communications, public education, and community outreach for environmental, healthcare, and social issues.

Dr. Judith Mitrani-Reiser, a recognized expert on the structural, infrastructural and social impacts of disasters ranging from earthquakes to tsunamis, comes to NIST as the Director of the Disaster and Failure Studies Program after serving for the past 8 years on the civil engineering faculty at the Johns Hopkins University. Among her areas of expertise are disaster management, risk assessment, resilience, emergency preparedness and evacuation modeling. Dr. Mitrani-Reiser leads the multidisciplinary staff responsible for conducting fact-finding investigations of structural failures and fires that resulted in substantial loss of life or that posed significant potential for substantial loss of life; promoting the implementation of recommendations from those studies to improve codes, standards and practices; and carrying out the statutory responsibilities assigned by the National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Act.

The most recent addition to the CRG is Dr. Donna Davis, who joined the group in January as an AAAS Fellow for one year. Dr. Davis is a member of the 2016-2017 Class of Science & Technology Policy Fellows at AAAS. She is a leader, educator, planner, and producer who has combined pedagogy and implementation science in an effort to improve public health practice. Her specialty is building bridges between disciplines and stakeholders in support of public health policy and workforce development, and she has a significant professional track record of interdisciplinary work and policy communication. At NIST, she aims to use her experience and skills to eliminate policy barriers to Community Resilience planning and implementation.

Center Co-Director Bruce R. Ellingwood has been notified by the American Society of Civil Engineers that he will be honored with ASCE's Lifetime Achievement Award in Education at the Outstanding Projects And Leaders (OPAL) Gala scheduled for Thursday, March 16, 2017 in Arlington, VA. To read more about Bruce and this wonderful award, please click here:

The American Institute of Steel Construction selected Hussam Mahmoud for the Early Career Faculty Award which will be bestowed next March at the annual Steel Conference. This highly competitive award provides recognition to individuals who demonstrate promise in the areas of structural steel research, teaching and/or other contributions to the structural steel industry.