Derek Skolnik
Senior Project Manager
Kinemetrics Inc., Los Angeles

Natural and induced building movements negatively impact tall buildings and the business districts they anchor. For example, large but distant earthquakes can cause urban environments to sustain significant financial loss from unnecessary evacuations and business interruptions. Additionally, uninformed decision-making during an earthquake increases the potential for panic, injuries, and costly downtime. For example, Dubai’s earthquake hazard largely comes from southern Iran—a region capable of M8+ earthquakes. Over the past five years, several earthquakes from this region have led to widespread panic and unnecessary evacuations across the Gulf. When a tall building moves enough to cause discomfort to occupants, building operators need to have answers to some very tough questions: How much did the building move? How much is too much? Is there a safety concern? Do we need to evacuate?

Advances in seismic sensing and mobile technology now enable tall building stakeholders to avoid over-reaction that leads to business process interruptions, make better-informed decisions during an earthquake, and minimize expensive downtime and distress. This presentation describes the evolution of a multi-faceted solution (developed in part for the Dubai Municipality) that provides answers to these questions and advocates the situational awareness necessary to effectively manage emergencies that could lead to evacuations.

Case studies, including the Burj Khalifa, are used to illustrate different employments of high-end monitoring, performance-based engineering services, post-event response planning and management, and novel two-way communication channels to achieve rapid, well-informed decision-making and critical information dissemination.