Three questions for Alexander Allmann, geophysicist and earthquake expert at Munich Re
After more than six years of work, the OpenQuake platform went into operation at the end of January 2015. The goal of the joint initiative Global Earthquake Model (GEM) is no less than to enable a comprehensive and holistic form of risk consideration. Questions for Alexander Allmann, geophysicist and earthquake expert at Munich Re.
Mr. Allmann, what is the OpenQuake platform?
Why is it in particular emerging and developing nations that will profit from the platform?
But quite the opposite was the case after a series of major quakes in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2010 and 2011: Less than 200 people lost their lives there, but the losses to the insurance industry were in the double-digit euro billions. In a comparatively weak quake in Emilia Romagna in southern Italy three years ago, only 23 people died, but the financial losses were in the billions. So while the socio-economic losses outweighed the physical ones in the first-world countries, the opposite was true in the emerging and developing nations.
There in particular, inadequate data and varying methodologies made it difficult to assess earthquake risks. Now, even institutes in remote locations can access the database, which brings together two forms of expertise for the first time – risk assessment and engineering know-how – to calculate the region's risk. GEM has now initiated projects in places like Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Kyrgyzstan and South America, and city scenarios through Quito in Ecuador and Lima in Peru. It offers the opportunity, especially in places where there is no risk community or only a small one, to sensitise people more for the dangers of earthquakes, and consequently also for insurance solutions.