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Earthquake preparedness and response modelling toolbox (acronym: POTROG)

For the purpose of earthquake disaster management (preparedness, response, recovery) a comprehensive web-based modelling toolbox was developed enabling earthquake hazard simulation with selectable epicentre and intensity, affecting real housing stock in Slovenia, modelling its seismic resistance and related people occupancy. This is now enabling development of significantly improved preparedness and response mechanisms, initiating through the public awareness campaign also refurbishing process.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

The innovation is in an efficient use of existing public registers and a parametric model of seismic risk of real buildings. This model was developed on individual seismic assessment of more than 1.500 existing buildings in Slovenia. It took more than 30 years to develop such extensive database. Innovation is therefore also a long-term orientation of the development.
Within the project development additional modules were added, forming one comprehensive toolbox:
- Rapid assessment toolbox – assessment of damage grades (EMS-98 scale) and usability of buildings modelling each building individually;
- Assess your own building – modelling tool for citizens;
- Assessment of seismic risk of critical infrastructure.
- Did you feel it module;
- Assessment of necessary response capacity;
- Daytime occupancy model, seismic risk of population and human life loss models;
Different tools/knowledge/aspects were integrated into one toolbox, paving the way to more earthquake resilient society.

Innovation Description

What is the current status of your innovation?

The toolbox is now implemented and operational. After its core component developed in 2012: assessment of the earthquake consequences, using complex modelling tool in developed, it was significantly upgraded ever since.

It is now a starting point for any stakeholder in Slovenia addressing earthquake issues. Recently the dissemination process is intensified with “Assess your own building” tool, which is now often used in the real estate transactions.

The innovation was also a user-friendly application. For a rough assessment of a single building the user has to enter the data on the building and the result is provided in the form of probability curve, according to definitions of EMS-98. Innovative dissemination process is now under way with the development of new modules – improving the daytime occupancy and seismic resistance assessment of buildings, development of state/municipial subsidy system for vulnerable buildings rehabilitation, improvement of insurance mechanisms and other.

Innovation Development

Collaborations & Partnerships

Lead partner is the Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief. Supporting partners are City of Ljubljana, with the largest earthquake damage potential, Slovenian Environment Agency, Dept. for Seismology, with integrations of earthquake hazard modelling and observations. Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Inst. developed methods for seismic resistance assessment of buildings, and company Water Science Institute providing IKT solutions and disaster response procedures.

Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

The main users are civil protection planning services with a need for improved information on the anticipated earthquake consequences, and general public in order to increase their awareness and preparedness. Planning services are now able to timely support the responders with information providing comprehensive support during earthquake disaster. Now it is also addressing also real estate market, insurance companies, public real estate funds, and links to other disasters for multi-hazard management.

Innovation Reflections

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

Operative use of the POTROG toolbox started in 2012, when it was used to support the field, and table-top earthquake exercise in Ljubljana. Important outreach of the operational POTROG toolbox happened during the earthquake event in 2014 (Brežice) with EMS intensity of 5.0.

During and after this event the toolbox has registered 2.400 entries in the “did you feel it” module, and achieved widely recognized position in the society as a reference toolbox and model for earthquake topics. Now, almost all national/regional/local earthquake disaster preparedness/response mechanisms are based upon the data provided by the toolbox, with exercises and real response mechanisms based upon it.

With media coverage and improved contents, the overall earthquake risk awareness has increased, improving the implementation of different mechanisms on different levels and domains reaching beyond disaster management framework (legislation, spatial planning, water supply, traffic, individual owners etc.).

Challenges and Failures

We were confronted with following challenges:
- Individual evaluation of building seismic resistance:, it was recognized that poor earthquake resilience of specific building can have negative impact on their real-estate value. Resolved with applied data protection on assessment of non-public buildings.
- Integration of large registers (i.e. building reg., population reg. oth.) and related uncertainties.
- GPDR data protection – the tool applies data protection, using also mainly public registries. If protected data is involved the encryption is applied which could be open in the case of force-major (earthquake).
- Modelled general assessment v.s. individual assessment; while the model uncertainty could be managed on the level of aggregate (i.e. municipality), it has limitations on specific building.
- The necessity for the parallel improvements of old buildings – while energy performance is a recognized priority, seismic resilience performance and its improvements is not.

Conditions for Success

The main precondition was a long-term commitment of all partners to the project objectives. The first individual evaluations of buildings used for the model development started in 1980s. All partners as institutions and to large extent persons have a strong commitment in this field, reaching often beyond the definitions of the listed short-term project task.
Stable partnerships and step-by-step development of the modules was supported with the continuous stakeholder communication process. Feedback from the stakeholders provided information on necessary corrections thus avoiding potential failures.
The project was also well-suited to the national IKT and data availability, legal framework on disaster management, and policy framework.
Seismic hazard is in Slovenia recognized as the major hazard for large-scale disasters, which was motivation for all external stakeholders.


Large-scale modelling of earthquake disasters were developed in some earthquake-prone countries, but not with the same precision, using detailed public registries for the detailed large-scale modelling.

Replication is preconditioned by (1) availability of maintained public registries of buildings with sufficient and reliable data to enable seismic response assessment of each individual building and (2) database of individual assessment of representative buildings.

Some components of the toolbox, which are not directly related to the building resilience, that is specific for Slovenia, could be easily replicated (i.e. module for the development of shake maps). The replication is of course limited also by the availability of the knowledge provided to the project by all involved stakeholders. The challenge of replication is now also recognized in Slovenia, with the enabled replication to the next large scale risk with increased occurrence due to the climate change – floods.

Lessons Learned

An important lesson learnt was regarding the long term commitment towards the development of specific solution. The data that was collected for more than two decades, together with the state-of-the-art use of registries, and modelling could be efficiently applied for public purpose. Also the toolbox development itself is now in its seventh year, which is important for such large scale efforts.
Next, the remark is sometimes made that very little or almost nothing could be done against the specific natural disaster – earthquake. The toolbox and all related outputs are proving opposite – with objective-oriented work of several stakeholders important improvements could be made.
The system could be also identified as general rapid-response system for the management of natural disasters. It enables relatively seamless transition from the preparedness stage of disaster management cycle to disaster response support. It is dynamically managing hazard (intensities of different earthquake return period for different regions in Slovenia), vulnerability (buildings, population, critical infrastructure), coping capacity (i.e. necessary/available USAR units), and by different measures identifies overall reduction of earthquake risk.
From this experience the system has already overgrown narrow limitations of seismic hazard, as it is providing basis for multihazard vulnerability. National Disaster Management Council of Slovenia has recognized the system as potential raw model for DSS supporting other large-scale disasters.
Another important lesson is addressing the gap between research community and disaster management. Aim of the research community is often to analyse the problem to very detail, even if it takes some time. The disaster management DSS have to be robust, providing the information very fast, even at the cost of its precision. The developed toolbox has considered both issues, with the gap between the two approaches now gradually closing.

Anything Else?

The toolbox and related activities have resulted in many interesting developments. Beside the improved disaster management response, the process resulted in structural strengthening and seismic upgrade of many, especially public buildings: hospitals and schools.

The impact on general population: in the last three months of 2018, 30 earthquakes in Slovenia and vicinity were reported via “did you feel the earthquake” module.

The tool is therefore an efficient general communication canal with target information on behaviour on their behaviour before, during and after the earthquake event.

With increased penetration of apps and use of mobile phones as general access points this type of solutions is almost expected, following advances, in the field of IKT technology.

Synergetic effects of digitalization process i.e. INSPIRE directive, real estate taxation, mobility data, legislation on structural stability of buildings (i.e. EU EUROCODE 8) go hand in hand with each other.

Project Pitch

Year: 2013
Level of Government: National/Federal government


  • Implementation - making the innovation happen
  • Evaluation - understanding whether the innovative initiative has delivered what was needed
  • Diffusing Lessons - using what was learnt to inform other projects and understanding how the innovation can be applied in other ways
Call for Innovations Call for Innovations
This case was submitted as part of the Call for Innovations, an annual partnership initiative between OPSI and the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation (MBRCGI)

Innovation provided by:

Date Published:

12 November 2013

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