This report presents a case study that is a part of a larger Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) effort called “Seismic Observatory for Community Resilience – A Program to Learn from Earthquakes” funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation under award number 1235573. The project builds on the multi-decade and multi-disciplinary EERI Learning From Earthquakes (LFE) program. The project is a three-year earthquake reconnaissance data assimilation effort aimed at advancing knowledge on resilience data practices and its application in the United States (EERI, 2015). The project seeks to identify and define key physical and human elements that contribute to, or inhibit, seismic resilience in U.S. communities. In the process, better understanding of the physical, social, economic, governance, and institutional factors that facilitate or slow recovery will be achieved.
A seismic resilience observatory is envisioned to house data documenting restoration, reconstruction, and recovery from past earthquakes and to provide means for disseminating, analyzing, and facilitating use of such data. The purpose of such an observatory is to facilitate comparison across disasters to learn transferable lessons for establishing frameworks to improve the resilience of human settlements around the world to future earthquakes. Beyond the potential storage and management of data, it is envisioned that a seismic resilience observatory might facilitate long-term recovery data collection (i.e., reconnaissance) and provide institutional guidance for conducting resilience reconnaissance efforts (e.g., by offering standardized methods for systematic long-term recovery data collection).
The case study described in this report is the first field study of the seismic resilience observatory project. It focuses on the reconstruction and recovery processes after the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquake sequence. This case study was chosen for several reasons. First, the Canterbury earthquake sequence is one of the most data-rich disasters in history. Second, it occurred in an urban area similar to many in the United States. Third, New Zealand does not pose a language barrier for project investigators.
Study participants included high-level users of data (e.g., decision-makers or those who requested the creation of the data) and the managers and creators of data. The research team interviewed representatives from a broad cross-section of organizations. During these interviews, study participants were asked to discuss their perspectives on recovery data practices in New Zealand, including the usefulness, exchangeability, and limitations of data and indicators for measuring and monitoring any aspect of recovery. The purpose of the interviews was to gather insights about organizational data practices for measuring and monitoring disaster recovery. The purpose was not to request or acquire any data or information describing the recovery progress; The goal of this case study was to identify significant themes related to recovery data practices for the Canterbury earthquake sequence that can inform alternatives for developing institutional and technological arrangements for future seismic resilience observatories.