The engineering community has made great progress on improving building performance. Performance based design is now widely accepted in national standards. New tools (FEMA P58 and SP3) have been developed to evaluate the impacts of earthquakes on buildings and express results as decision variables like safety, repair cost, and downtime. Rating Systems enhance the communication of building performance to our clients and the public. Buildings can now be designed to regain functionality quickly after a disaster to meet the needs of the community. Structural engineers have the knowledge and expertise to become leaders in the community resilience movement, but we lack a common set of definitions and resilience framework.
There are numerous organizations related to resilience. Each one has their own system, framework, and definitions, making it difficult to triage all of the information available. Without consistent terminology, engineers cannot distinguish between thoughtful programs that improve a community’s resilience and marketing campaigns that do not decrease recovery times after a natural disaster.
The SEAOC Resilience Committee is working to address these issues by developing terminology that defines community resilience. This paper provides an overview of what the Committee has developed over the past year which includes definitions for community resilience. It will help structural engineers better understand their role in community resilience and improve their ability to communicate with other design professionals, clients, and the public. Community resilience is changing at a rapid pace and the engineering community needs to adapt to keep up or risk being left behind.