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Civil-Comp Proceedings
ISSN 1759-3433
CCP: 77
Edited by: B.H.V. Topping
Paper 2

Web Based Computation for Urban Earthquake Disaster Mitigation

P. Zhu+, M. Abe* and J. Kiyono$

+Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society, Japan Science and Technology Corporation, Tokyo, Japan
*Department of Civil Engineering, University of Tokyo, Japan
$Graduate School of Civil Engineering, Kyoto University, Japan

Full Bibliographic Reference for this paper
P. Zhu, M. Abe, J. Kiyono, "Web Based Computation for Urban Earthquake Disaster Mitigation", in B.H.V. Topping, (Editor), "Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Civil and Structural Engineering Computing", Civil-Comp Press, Stirlingshire, UK, Paper 2, 2003. doi:10.4203/ccp.77.2
Keywords: seismic analysis, urban disaster mitigation, web computing, XML, VRML.

Metropolises are vulnerable under attacks of severe earthquakes. Catastrophic economic losses under earthquakes around the world are huge and increasing in last decade. Earthquake disasters cause not only damage to buildings, structures but social and economic impacts. Though proper handling of seismic behaviour of a building or a structure is essential, it is still quite a local issue on concerning urban earthquake disaster mitigation.

Disaster mitigation has been defined as: "taking actions to reduce the effects of a hazard before it occurs." [2] Three aspects can be seen in urban earthquake disaster mitigation. The first thing is to understand the earthquake hazards. The second is to understand the vulnerability of a city, people, buildings and structures, lifelines, communication systems and other elements. The third is countermeasures, which include planning (precaution), immediate responding (decision making and rescue) and recovering.

An Internet based platform that integrates applications, accesses data and provides interface to various kinds of users can be a good candidate to meet the needs of urban earthquake disaster mitigation. Concerning the needs of urban earthquake disaster mitigation, the platform is targeted to possess functions as follow:

  1. High precise simulation for natural disasters (such as earthquake generator according to faults) and structures (such as recreation of damage and collapses of structures);
  2. Integrated applications and data which can represent major factors of infrastructures for a living city;
  3. Be capable of providing and distributing information, which is useful to and can be easily accessed by estate owners, city administrators and the public, establishing mechanism to communicate with the public reciprocally.

The basic reason to make an engineering application a web capable one is to make it accessible by other applications automatically. A large scale application such as the task of urban earthquake disaster mitigation needs collaborations of various applications in several fields. A three-tier model from J2EE environment (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition [4]) can also be applied in this case. The text based HTML is insufficient for presenting results of an application. At the client- tier, VRML (Virtual Reality Modelling Language) [1] is employed to present dynamic 3D graphics. XML (eXtensible Markup Language) [5] can be used for more general data presentation. XML will also play an important role in communications between applications at server's side.

XML is believed to be the core part of the next generation of the web, which will be about data, not text. [3] XML is a metamarkup language by providing arbitrary structures for one to make his own markup language with vocabularies (keywords) of his special field. Applications that can recognize the same set of vocabularies can communicate with each other in a more convenient way. A special XML, which might be called Structure XML, can be initiated for this purpose. The contents of this Structure XML should cover not only general structure analysis but also result presentation, damage evaluation etc.

Structural seismic analysis is one of fundamental issues towards urban earthquake disaster mitigation. As a first step to develop the application platform, a work aimed to shift a dynamic structure analysis program to a web application is conducted. To handle the results of analysis and to present at the client's side, a post-processor using VRML has been implemented. Several examples show that VRML is a good tool to pass 3D dynamic results through the Internet, though several shortcomings of the current version of VRML such as redundancy in describing time-history data should also be mentioned.

A.L. Ames, D.R. Nadeau and J.L. Moreland, "VRML 2.0 Sourcebook, Second Edition", John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, USA, 1997.
Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA), "Disaster Mitigation", 2nd Edition, 1994.
E. Newcomer, "Understanding Web Services", Addison-Wesley Pub Co., 2002.
I. Singh, B. Stearns, M. Johnson, Enterprise Team, "Designing Enterprise Applications with the J2EE Platform", 2nd edition, Addison-Wesley Pub Co., 2002.
L. Dan, "Essential XML for Web Professionals", Prentice-Hall, Inc., 2002.

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