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The 16th Mallet-Milne lecture, entitled ‘Dealing with earthquakes’, explored how the technical work of seismic engineers is influenced by the wider cultural, economic and political dimensions of the communities in which they work. A wide variety of aspects were covered in the lecture, including the part of that seismic standards play in dealing with aspects, and it is this the speaker will concentrate on in my address to the ICE Hong Kong Association.
Striving towards the technical excellence of standards is clearly very important; however, even technically perfect codes are of little use if they are not properly implemented and enforced, or if they fail to meet the needs and wishes of the communities they are intended to serve and protect.
After examining how the effectiveness of communities in dealing with earthquakes varies greatly across the world, the speaker will explore the role that standards should play in improving seismic resilience, examine how effective they are in practice and discuss how wide their scope should be. A significant conclusion is that code drafting committees, who are mostly formed from engineers and scientists, need to be more aware of the wider context in which their standards will be applied.
The Mallet-Milne lecture is a biennial series organised by the UK’s Society for Earthquake and Civil Engineering Dynamics (SECED), one of the ICE’s associated societies. The 16th lecture was presented by Edmund Booth at the ICE’s London HQ last year; it has subsequently been published as a special issue of the Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering and is freely downloadable from http://rdcu.be/HDHk.
Edmund Booth, graduated in engineering from Cambridge in 1969 and spent the first part of his career working partly for Arup, and partly for contractors in the UK and Africa. During this time, he kept his technical interests as broad as possible before taking the specialist route into earthquake engineering in 1982.
In 1995, he founded his own practice and undertakes the seismic design, analysis and assessment of a wide range of structures worldwide. He is a past chairman of the Society for Earthquake and Civil Engineering Dynamics (SECED) and a founding member of the Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team (EEFIT).
Since 1990, he has played an active part in the development of the European seismic code Eurocode 8, and chaired the UK (BSI) committee for EC8 between 2010 and 2017. He now leads an initiative to enhance EC8. Edmund was a visiting professor at Oxford, and now teaches a module in the MSc earthquake engineering course at Imperial College London. He wrote the second edition of the textbook Earthquake Design Practice for Buildings published in 2006, and its third edition in 2013.