<h4 style="text-align: left;"><em>Science & community meet\r\nin the work\u00a0of the Stanford Urban Resilience Initiative\u00a0<\/em><\/h4>\r\n \r\n\r\nIn the earthquake-prone San Francisco Bay Area, thousands of people live in so-called \u201csoft-story\u201d buildings: older, usually with parking on the ground floor and\u00a0apartments above, and lacking strength to withstand a major earthquake.\r\n\r\nSuch buildings are easy for a trained eye to spot and can usually be retrofitted. Yet\u00a0social and policy challenges keep solutions at bay. The tenants and owners are often\u00a0of modest means. Many don\u2019t know their buildings are vulnerable or, if they do, how\u00a0to best make fixes. It\u2019s politically risky for cities to mandate costly retrofits.\r\n\r\nIn March 2015, Stanford undergraduate and graduate students confronted the challenge in a <a href="http:\/\/urbanst164.stanford.edu" target="_blank">Sustainable Cities<\/a> class taught by <a href="http:\/\/urbanstudies.stanford.edu" target="_blank">urban studies<\/a> lecturer Deland Chan, \u201907, MA \u201907. Students mapped soft-story buildings in the\u00a0Bay Area city of Oakland, where about 22,000 residential units fall into the category.\u00a0They surveyed tenants as to what rent increases they would be willing to pay to\u00a0make their dwellings safer. Their input and analysis informed the city\u2019s thinking and\u00a0helped to create interactive tools such as a Soft Story Map to guide policy efforts.\r\n<blockquote>This class set me on a pathway of exploration into how change is made in cities, where I can see myself contributing in these processes of change, and what change is most needed.\r\n\r\n\u2013 Jack Lundquist, '17<\/blockquote>\r\nThe class was part of\u00a0the <a href="http:\/\/web.stanford.edu\/group\/urbanresilience\/cgi-bin\/wordpress\/" target="_blank">Stanford Urban Resilience Initiative<\/a>, a multidisciplinary\u00a0network focused on research and design of technologies to improve communities\u2019\u00a0resilience to natural disasters.\r\n\r\nResilience is a term planners, engineers and scientists use to describe the ability of systems, including cities, to\u00a0rebound from\u00a0crises. Their focus comes as more of the world\u2019s people live in flood- or quake-prone\u00a0areas whose vulnerability puts swelling populations at risk.\u00a0Members of the Stanford Urban Resilience Initiative work not just to study disaster\u00a0risk but also to build people\u2019s capacity to respond to it. Working at the intersection\u00a0of natural sciences, statistics, engineering and policy, they create tools that\u00a0communities, cities and nations can use to protect themselves against disaster and\u00a0respond effectively when it comes.\r\n\r\n"There is a lot of work that the earthquake engineering community and the public planners have to do as a team," said PhD candidate Luis Ceferino, who was part of the Oakland project.\r\n\r\n"For a\u00a0long time, we have known about the vulnerable behavior of the soft story buildings in the earthquake-engineering community,\u00a0but it is very recently that we have implemented policies for making these buildings less vulnerable."\r\n\r\nCeferino and others involved in the Urban Resilience Initiative aim for cities to adopt and refine\u00a0disaster mitigation policies with the help of the link between engineering communities and policy makers.\r\n\r\nAnne Sanquini\u2019s Stanford dissertation research measured the effectiveness of a short film in\u00a0building support for school retrofitting\u00a0in Nepal. In fact, Sanquini, PhD \u201915, <a href="http:\/\/news.stanford.edu\/2015\/05\/22\/nepal-quake-buildings-052215\/" target="_blank">was in Nepal, screening her film for local researchers, when the 7.6 earthquake hit<\/a> in April\u00a02015.\r\n\r\nIn the week that followed, researchers from Stanford\u2019s John A. Blume Earthquake\u00a0Engineering Research Center <a href="https:\/\/engineering.stanford.edu\/news\/how-do-you-recover-after-deadly-earthquake" target="_blank">developed a cloud-based computing model<\/a> to estimate the\u00a0quake\u2019s impact on the region.\r\n\r\nDavid Lallemant, PhD \u201915, spent a month and a half in Nepal, working with the\u00a0World Bank and the United Nations Shelter Cluster to support response and\u00a0recovery efforts. Lallemant co-led the housing sector assessment\u00a0for the joint U.N.\/World Bank\/European Union post-disaster needs\u00a0assessment requested by the Nepali government. Several other Stanford graduate students curated a data\u00a0clearinghouse related to earthquake impacts.\r\n\r\nLed by the <a href="http:\/\/blume.stanford.edu\/">Blume Earthquake Engineering Research Center<\/a>, Stanford has a long history of research and service to reduce the impact of earthquakes worldwide. After a 7.8 earthquake struck Ecuador in April 2016, Associate Professor of civil and\u00a0environmental engineering Eduardo Miranda and his students, including Ceferino,\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/engineering.stanford.edu\/news\/eduardo-miranda-surveying-damage-caused-ecuador-s-earthquake" target="_blank">conducted assessments of damaged hospitals<\/a>, examining both structural design and\u00a0operational response. Their research aims to support more resilient emergency\u00a0health services after disruptive events.\r\n\r\nWorking with the Natural Capital Project, a consortium whose Stanford participants\u00a0are primarily housed in the Department of Biology and the Woods Institute for the\u00a0Environment, members of the Stanford Urban Resilience Initiative are developing\u00a0new ways to assess the benefits of ecosystems in reducing disaster's impact.\u00a0One ongoing\u00a0project explores how nature can\u00a0mitigate the impact of urban floods.\r\n\r\nUpcoming projects include:\r\n<ul>\r\n \t<li>\uf0b7\u00a0A two-day \u201cdisaster art-a-thon\u201d at Stanford in fall 2016. Engineers, scientists and\u00a0local artists will come together to find novel ways to communicate about hazards,\u00a0risk and disasters, and to have fun while doing it.<\/li>\r\n \t<li>A fall 2016 course in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, <em>Disaster Risk and International Development.\u00a0<\/em><\/li>\r\n \t<li>Training for Stanford graduate engineering students to rapidly evaluate buildings\u00a0for safety after an earthquake.<\/li>\r\n \t<li>Work on enhancing post-disaster damage assessments through crowdsourced image analysis using the\u00a0volunteer Humanitarian OpenStreetMaps\u00a0team. From satellite imagery, volunteers\u00a0extract data on damaged buildings and roads for more efficient use by disaster\u00a0response teams on the ground.<\/li>\r\n<\/ul>\r\n"I was surprised by how challenging it is to implement policy," said Jack Lundquist, '17, who received an <a href="https:\/\/haas.stanford.edu\/students\/cardinal-quarter\/fellowship-opportunities\/meet-undergraduate-fellows\/previous-undergraduate" target="_blank">undergraduate fellowship<\/a> from Stanford's <a href="https:\/\/haas.stanford.edu" target="_blank">Haas Center for Public Service<\/a> to work on the Resilient Oakland project. Lundquist was energized, however, rather than intimidated by the task.\r\n\r\n"An exposure to the hurdles \u2013\u00a0political, bureaucratic, economic, social \u2013\u00a0so early in the trajectory of my career was incredibly valuable because it got me thinking more realistically about how I want to create change in society," he said. "Ultimately, I am committed\u00a0to encouraging more sustainable, affordable, resilient and vibrant communities in the Bay Area."