Real-time loss estimates of earthquakes worldwide
The World Agency of Planetary Monitoring and Earthquke Risk Reduction (WAPMERR) was created in 2001 in Geneva, Switzerland, as a non-profit organization for the purposes of reducing risk due to disasters and for rescue planning after disasters. WAPMERR conducts a variety of research related to:
  • Advancing methods of real-time loss estimates after earthquakes;
  • Estimating the extent of future disasters in scenario mode;
  • Calculating tsunami risks;
  • Characterizing the nature of the building stock in cities at risk; and 
  • Earthquake prediction.

WAPMERR  provides loss estimates for earthquakes within less than one hour after they happen anywhere in the world  The focus is on providing developing countries and international relief organizations with fast information for disaster response and mitigation. The alerts that WAPMERR issues in collaboration with the Swiss Seismological Service include number of fatalities and injured, as well as a map showing the average damage to buildings in the affected settlements. For the last five years, WAPMERR has estimated the extent of earthquake losses in real time for about 400 earthquakes worldwide. In addition, WAPMERR is publishing scenario loss estimates for areas likely to experience earthquakes in future.

Research and development activities

Ongoing activities

WAPMERR is developing a new generation of earthquake loss estimation software called QLARM.  The software and the databases will be open to all scientific users.  The code is written in Java in a modular format compatible with SHAKEMAP and PAGER.  The modes of operation will be off a server and standalone.

The input needed for loss calculation is the earthquake origin hour, the coordinates of the epicenter, the depth and the magnitude.  The program then calculates the ground shaking as a function of distance from the epicenter.  In the worldwide database of QLARM, the population of about one million settlements is known and each settlement has a vulnerability profile.  WAPMERR constructs the database using:

  • Point city models for the cases where only summary data for the entire city are available; and 
  • Discrete city models where data regarding city sub-divisions (districts) are available.

WAPMERR attributes the following parameters to the city models:

  • Soil amplification factors
  • Distribution of building stock and population into EMS-98 vulnerability classes or building types.

The expected damage (mean damage degree by city model and probability of occurrence of all damage states) is calculated using vulnerability models for EMS-98 vulnerability classes or building types included in the QLARM database.  Then the casualties (fatalities and injured) are calculated using the following advanced features: 

  • Building collapse rates pertinent to different regions worldwide (source: World Housing Encyclopedia and PAGER). 
  • Casualty matrices pertinent to EMS-98 vulnerability classes or building types.  The collapse and casualty rates are defined as a function of the seismic demand.

For medical response purposes WEPMERR plans to include an estimate of the seismic exposure of health-care facilities in the affected region in their alerts.  Thus, WEPMERR needs to upgrade their database with information regarding these facilities.

The most accurate results could be obtained if the building inventory had been compiled by engineers on the ground.  However, this is not possible for most cities, especially in developing countries.  For this reason, the city models have been calibrated, using earthquakes for which losses are known.  Therefore, QLARM estimates are most reliable in countries where earthquakes occur frequently.



Contact information 

World Agency of Planetary Monitoring and Earthquake Risk Reduction (WAPMERR)
2 Rue de Jargonnant
1207 Geneva
Tel: +41-22-700-55-44
Fax: +41-22-700-00-44  

Prof. Max Wyss, Director
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Dr. Goran Trendafiloski (estimation of losses)
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Dr. Philippe Rosset (ground motion)
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