Environmental News Archive

An almost weekly update of environmental news, particularly marine updates, with occasional splatters of transportation, indigenous, ideas of sustainability and sustainable development from around the world.


New NUS centre to study effects of natural disasters on S'pore buildings

23 November 2007 (TODAY)

SINGAPORE: Our buildings may shake when earthquakes occur in the region, but it is "highly unlikely" they will fall. But would they be safe years down the road?

That is what the new Centre for Hazards Research at the National University of Singapore (NUS) aims to find out.

Launched on Thursday, the centre will study the short- and long-term effects of natural disasters on structures and infrastructure.

The centre's director, Associate Professor Lee Fook Hou, said: "I am pretty sure our buildings are safe now, but I can't assure you they will always be. The aim of our research is to reduce that margin of uncertainty."

Comprising 20 local and three foreign academics and researchers, the centre will start work on the impact of earth tremors because that is something "closest to our hearts", noted Assoc Prof Lee.

Through experiments and the investigation of data collected, the centre aims to develop new technologies to counter potential risks to the safety of structures.

"While natural hazards are inevitable, we can focus on using good science to prevent them from becoming disasters," said Assoc Prof Lee. "The idea is to find new ways to improve structures."

This would prove especially useful to companies looking to venture into earthquake-prone areas, he added. The centre will eventually move into research on other dangers such as typhoons and floods.

Another goal of the centre: To become an information and resource hub on natural disasters for Singapore and the region.

By providing "accurate and reliable answers" on why buildings behave the way they do during earthquakes, people here will be more knowledgeable about the effects of natural disasters and be in "a calmer state of mind because they know they are safe", said Assoc Prof Lee.

There are plans to launch a website to provide near real-time information when natural disasters occur, he added.

Several industry players have expressed interest in working with the centre by providing technological assistance or data. - TODAY/ym

Editor's Note: Finally they admit that Singapore is vulnerable to Natural Disasters. It's about damn time!

Labels: ,