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IBS Speaker Series: Data for disasters: designing user-centered and integrated earthquake information

February 7, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Zoom link: – email for password.

Speaker: Sabine Loos, Mendenhall Fellow USGS and CU Boulder Natural Hazards Center

Abstract: Many data sources that become available after a disaster—such as satellite imagery or reconnaissance surveys—have immense power to inform decisions that influence the trajectory of the affected country for years afterwards. However, often these data sources prioritize specific user groups, easy-to-measure metrics, and short-term understanding.  In this talk, I will present on the design of disaster data that aims to address these limitations by understanding multiple user needs and integrating multiple disciplinary perspectives, drawing from three main areas. The first is on developing user-centered damage data, in which we identify the decisions that depend on building damage data to inform the design of a geostatistical approach to estimate post-earthquake damage to inform early aid requests. The second is on developing integrated recovery data, looking at how we can integrate data on natural, social, and physical factors to estimate the spatial distribution of populations who will lag during recovery, a relatively more complex phenomena than damage. The third is on using data to understand the effect of disaster decisions, looking at the long-term outcomes from the design of a past recovery policy. I will demonstrate this research using real data from past earthquakes, mainly Nepal’s 2015 earthquake, and connect it to current research on developing human-centered earthquake information at the USGS. Broadly, evaluating the what, why, and who of disaster data can inform the thoughtful design of future disaster data products that are more useful to local planners, reflect the multiple disciplines that study disaster, and, hopefully, inform decisions that lead to more effective and equitable outcomes.

Sabine Loos

Bio: Sabine Loos is a Mendenhall Fellow with the United States Geological Survey in collaboration with the Natural Hazards Center working on developing socially equitable earthquake risk products. Broadly, her research surrounds the development of disaster information that centers users and the human experience. She applies statistical learning, risk analysis, and user-centered design techniques to develop tools that inform effective and equitable disaster risk reduction, response, and recovery. Through the lens of data, her work bridges engineering with the natural and social sciences to prioritize the most vulnerable. She has worked across Nepal, Singapore, and New Zealand to gain firsthand experience of the impacts from disasters. The transdisciplinary nature of her work has led her to collaborate with Kathmandu Living Labs, the World Bank, NASA-JPL, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, and others. She also co-chairs the Natural Hazards Center Researchers’ Meetings and co-founded the Risk & Resilience DAT/Artathon. Sabine is a recipient of the John A. Blume Fellowship in Earthquake Engineering and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. She holds a PhD and master’s degree from Stanford University (2021, 2018), bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University (2016), and will be joining the University of Michigan Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2023.


February 7, 2022
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Event Category:


Natural Hazards Center
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