GEM TOPIQS Newsletter Issue No.17 January-February 2020    View this email in your browser

GEM and COVID-19: A message from the GEM Foundation

Dear GEM Partners and Friends,

As you all know, the GEM Headquarters are located in Pavia, Italy, essentially at the epicenter of the COVID-19 in Italy, which in turn has become the epicenter of the rest of the western world. Now, just over four weeks after the first case was detected, there are over 30,000 known cases in Italy, and the virus has spread to all corners of the globe. For the past 10 days, all of Italy has been in lockdown to mitigate the spread of the disease. In short, we are forbidden to leave our homes except for essential activities, such as to purchase medicine or groceries. Occasional exercise (e.g., running or walking) is ok too, as long as we observe social distancing rules.

How are we managing this? For GEM, staff have been working from home or a place they consider safe. Fortunately, we are all quite used to working remotely, which has been part of our normal operating model from the beginning, given our international staff and the need to connect to our partners throughout the world. So, while it is certainly not ‘business as usual’, we are making the necessary adjustments to make sure work continues and deliverables are met.

In spite of the rising concerns over travel, we were able to launch the USAID funded TREQ project in Quito, Ecuador two weeks ago. Although some international participants, including one from GEM, were not able to attend due to travel restrictions, we did manage to hold meetings and workshops more or less as planned. Indeed, the launch was a great success.  (See article on the TREQ launch.)

Beyond this, while we are operating under the strictest of health advisories, these restrictions are now becoming the norm in Europe, and, in some form, in the rest of the world. Thus, we hope all of you remain safe during this global health crisis and continue to value the information we provide and, if you haven’t done so already, reach out and join GEM as a sponsor or partner.

Wishing good health to all,

John Schneider
Secretary General
GEM Foundation, Pavia, Italy

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A promising start for the USAID-GEM TREQ Project

Public, private, academia and industry professionals joined the launch in Quito, Ecuador

GEM TOPIQS newsletter: A new look for the new decade

The TOPIQS newsletter has a new design and layout to make your navigation easy and your reading enjoyable. Much of the contents over the past three years will still be there. Aside from the design and layout, here are some of the changes and contents that we’ve added:
  • In Focus - a feature story covering GEM’s major activities or news over the past two months, this can be about a project or a new sponsor or about a GEM partner’s activities related to seismic hazard and risk assessment, research and application;
  • GEM Impact story - a new section featuring GEM Impact Stories, in this issue, we are featuring Prof. Ana Beatriz Acevedo’s Science for Social Change. One impact story will be featured for each release of TOPIQS;
  • Around the Internet - a merging of the From the Press and Viewpoints sections into one, this section will still contain DRR, seismic hazard and risk articles from around the internet for your reading pleasure; and
  • A table of contents has been added so you can jump to the topic that interests you most.
Thank you for your support over the past three years! We hope that you will continue to support us in the years ahead. We welcome your feedback. Please email us at


GEM Updates
GEM to contribute expertise to high performance computing in the field of seismology hazards
Survey to align GEM products and services with the needs of users and stakeholders
Impact Story
Science for Social Change: A Q&A with Prof. Ana Beatriz Acevedo of EAFIT University, Medellin, Colombia
GEM launches collaboration with innovative disaster resilience company, One Concern
New blood: Meet GEM’s new team members from Costa Rica, Italy, France and the United States
Development of a global seismic risk model by Silva, V.
GEM and AXA partnership aims to enhance loss modelling capabilities to make better risk decisions
Sura and GEM continue collaboration to understand earthquake risk for Latin America
In Focus

A promising start for the USAID-GEM TREQ Project: Public, private, academia and industry professionals joined the launch in Quito, Ecuador

More than 100 individuals and a dozen local and international institutions participated in the TREQ project launch held at the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Quito, Antiguo Hospital Militar, Ecuador from March 5 to 6. The Municipality of Quito hosted the event in collaboration with the GEM Foundation and USAID-OFDA, the project’s main funding partner.

OpenQuake Updates
OpenQuake engine version 3.8 (‘Sekiya’)
This is a major release featuring several optimizations, new features and bug fixes. Optimizations include: considerable reduction of engine memory utilization in calculations with subtasks (i.e. classical and risk); and reduced data transfer in classical and event-based calculations. New features include: an extended framework to compute consequences from scenario damage calculations; and a new experimental calculator that can compute damage probabilities starting from an event-based hazard calculation and a set of fragility curves. For the full list, check the link below.

The OpenQuake engine version 3.8 can be used to visualize calculations using the latest OQ IRMT QGIS plugin version 3.8.1.
GEM in the News!
GEM on WTW website
Willis Research Network Spotlights Series features GEM Hazard Team Coordinator, Marco Pagani. Marco talks about the GEM and Willis Towers Watson partnership, how GEM products can be used in the insurance industry, and what's coming in the next 5-10 years. Watch his interview on YouTube.

Climate change – sweating the detail
FM Global, a GEM sponsor, mentions GEM Foundation as part of a global community of academics and scientists working to understand natural hazards and the threats they pose at a localised level, where findings and data have never been more accessible, and that companies can use the insight they provide to better inform their corporate risk assessment and mitigation programmes.

Improving earthquake ground-motion predictions for the North Sea
The authors mention the use of OpenQuake-based gmpe-smtk toolkit in conducting thorough residual analyses and testing how well the considered GMPEs for the North Sea dataset fit the ground-motion data.
UNDRR INFO February 2020
The UNDRR Regional Office for Europe bulletin on Albania: Lessons learned from the November 2019 earthquake mentions the GEM Impact Story: Science for Social Change as an example of how capacity development in DRR can help understand earthquake risk and reduce disaster losses.
Around the Internet
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Via Ferrata 1
Pavia, PV 27100

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