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Continuity of the essential services in the face of earthquake emergency: assessing, mitigating and monitoring the seismic risk

Anna reggio

Nationality Italian

Year of selection 2013


Country Italy

Risk Environment

Post-Doctoral Fellowship

2 years

120000 €

After an Earthquake, the Show Must Go On

In an earthquake, a building that doesn’t collapse is a well-designed building, right? That’s not the whole story, says Dr. Anna Reggio. Preventing structural collapse is necessary, but not sufficient, for a community to bounce back after disaster. To show resilience, it needs to maintain, as much as possible, its essential functions: hospitals must still treat patients; water and power must still be provided; industrial plants must continue to operate without any environmental impact or prolonged downtime. To recover quickly and efficiently, a community must also minimize the indirect losses resulting from businesses interruption, displaced populations and unemployment.
Designing a structure to reduce loss of life in an earthquake is thus only a minimum. Much more could be achieved if the aim were to maintain a specific level of operations for each essential building, with what is known as performance-based seismic design. Dr. Reggio is developing methods to analyze the earthquake readiness of buildings and identifying design criteria that will ensure both structural safety and the continuous functioning of essential systems and equipment. Her research helps change building codes so that existing and future constructions take into account all the dimensions of earthquake resilience, thereby aiming to reduce the impact of a variety of risks that arise when the earth starts to shake.


The research project by Dr. Reggio will study the seismic risk posed to lifelines and essential services (e.g., power transmission, communication and transportation networks, hospitals, data centers) and will develop criteria and methodologies to ensure their operational continuity in the face of earthquake emergency. Seismic risk and consequent losses will be assessed through a novel holistic approach in which the vulnerability of both the structural components and the engineering systems, constituting all together the building in its complexity, will be jointly taken into account. Experimental protocols for the seismic qualification of equipment, considered as the key means to demonstrate its integrity and functionality during the expected earthquake events, will be subsequently established.
Methodologies and data that will be made available from the project will have the ultimate prospect of limiting nonstructural and content losses, which could be, depending on the building occupancy, even far superior to the cost of structural damage. Dealing with the critical backbones of urban communities, the expected results will be of a strategic public and private significance and will help to fill the current lack of specific provisions in international building codes.

Short CV
Anna Reggio received her Ph.D. in Structural Engineering from Sapienza University of Rome in 2011, after concluding her doctoral studies as a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at Columbia University in the City of New York. From Sapienza University of Rome, she also earned her B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Civil Engineering, both summa cum laude, in 2005 and 2007 respectively, and was awarded the "Fondazione Roma Sapienza" Prize as best M.Sc. graduate in Engineering.
Her research focuses on structural dynamics with a special emphasis on earthquake engineering applications. She is interested in linear and nonlinear passive control of structural vibrations, seismic risk assessment and mitigation in essential buildings and lifelines, vibration-based system identification for damage detection and structural health monitoring. She has developed a specialized expertise on experimental dynamics and nondestructive testing of structures, both in situ and on the shake table. As a consulting Professional Engineer, Dr. Reggio has worked on projects funded by eminent public authorities and private companies, among which the European Union, the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic (ENEA) and the Italian State Railways (Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane). She has authored more than 20 papers published in international scientific journals and conference proceedings and is an established reviewer for a number of the most prestigious journals in her field.
Anna Reggio is currently AXA Research Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering at Sapienza University of Rome.

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