SAN FRANCISCO — Arup has become one of the first engineering firms to join a global initiative dedicated to mitigating and raising awareness of earthquake risk around the world. The firm signed up as a partner with the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) group. Arup’s team of earthquake engineers is committed to supporting GEM for five years as part of this agreement.

The GEM initiative involves high-level collaboration between national government bodies, international aid organizations, academia, global finance and insurance groups, as well as vulnerable communities living in earthquake zones around the globe.

The group is working together to develop transparent tools to better quantify earthquake risk that will not only save lives, but also help build financial resilience in advance of disasters. Creating the tools required to more accurately quantify earthquake risk and the benefits of mitigation lies at the heart of the project, according to Arup’s global lead for catastrophe risk management, Andy Thompson.

“By combining our global engineering expertise with the seismological and financial aspects of the model, we will help quantify the benefits of risk mitigation, help create financial incentives for earthquake resiliency, and thus save lives and protect communities,” Thompson said.

Dr. Rui Pinho, secretary-general of GEM, said, “It is great to count on a new partner such as Arup. GEM success relies on the contribution of a global community working across disciplines and geographies. Arup can be a key resource for this community, bringing in global engineering expertise and a fresh perspective to the big challenges we face on modelling and impact assessment. Their experience and their global outreach will be invaluable in helping governments, civil society, and the private sector to manage risks and guard against the worst outcomes.”

Claudio Boettcher, global head of Property and Business Interruption at Zurich Insurance Group, agreed, "So far the GEM community has primarily comprised public sponsors and those from the insurance industry like Zurich Insurance Group. Having an engineering company join is further recognition of the value of the GEM initiative, which is widening its sponsorship community and giving GEM a broader foundation in actual application and use of combined efforts to serve communities impacted by earthquakes.”

Louis Gritzo, vice president and research manager at FM Global, one of the world’s largest business property insurers, added, “At FM Global, we have been an engineering-driven property insurer for 178 years and it is evident how Arup’s structural and geotechnical engineering expertise can add value to GEM’s efforts.”

Zurich and FM Global are joined by other insurance and reinsurance organizations including Munich Re, Hannover Re, Renaissance Re, and others. GEM also has the support and backing of international bodies such as the OECD, the World Bank, UNESCO, and the IAEE. Other partners include national institutions from across the world, including the United States, Chile, Venezuela, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia.