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NABIE was recently contacted by Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) Silicon Valley Campus in Mountain View, California to collaborate on a research project involving building inspection engineering.  Long known for its leadership in engineering and computer science research and education, Carnegie Mellon and the College of Engineering have established a natural extension in the Silicon Valley to perform innovative research that connects it to local, national, and global high-tech companies. 
The particular research involves a system being developed to permit remote assessment of earthquake damaged buildings.  The concept is simple, but to obtain the needed data and appropriate interactions, sophisticated technology is being proposed and developed.
In practice, the CMU research effort might ultimately permit rapid assessment of structural conditions at buildings soon after the occurrence of an earthquake, or similar catastrophe.  The system is intended to couple first responders on scene with remote experts who can view data in real time collected by those on site, and then direct them on how to proceed.  Traditionally experts have been dispatched to the site of such events before any meaningful assessment can take place.  The CMU system seeks to gain access to experts almost immediately, streaming to them data from the site within a short time of the event.  Communication and data exchange would be two way, increasing the speed and accuracy of damage assessments.  This will streamline emergency provisioning of shelters by allowing people to stay in safe dwellings, and speed the overall emergency response and reconstruction.
CMU hopes to use Christchurch, New Zealand as the test site for its system.  Numerous buildings were badly damaged there during a recent earthquake.  If successful, NABIE’s role in the collaboration would be to provide several volunteer building inspection engineers who could remotely view data from and communicate with on-scene people in order to direct them in how to proceed.  Although the Christchurch earthquake took place in February and the “emergency” aspects of the event have diminished in immediacy, it still provides an ideal test bed for CMU’s research and test of its system.
NABIE is especially proud that a university of the stature of Carnegie Mellon sought our assistance in its pioneering research.
*This article had been posted in the Spring 2011 edition of The Examiner.