In 2015, the Xavier University Engineering Resource Center (XUERC), in coordination with the Department of Education (DepEd – Region 10), conducted a rapid structural assessment study of more than 200 school buildings in the nine Central Schools of Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. The XUERC team used widely accepted methodologies that were tailored to the Philippine setting by structural engineering experts from the De La Salle University – Civil Engineering Department (DLSU).
Results show that more than half of the existing buildings, many of which are built before the seismic provisions of the current structural code were updated, may be at risk when exposed to large earthquake events. This means that a more detailed review of both the structural and functional systems of the schools is highly recommended.
To this aim, the Earthquake and People Interaction Centre (EPICentre) at the University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom, DLSU and XUERC collaborated for a joint research project on: “Safer COmmunities thrOugh Safer SchOols” (SCOSSO) in Cagayan de Oro City. The main aim of SCOSSO is to develop an innovative, advanced, multi-hazard risk assessment framework for school infrastructures in the Philippines. As a result, the SCOSSO mobile application is now available for free download and use to conduct rapid visual surveying and vulnerability assessment of schools against strong winds, floods, and earthquakes. The app will give instant simplified physical vulnerability estimation, and the data can be easily extracted to spread sheet. To date, the app has been used to survey more than 300 schools in five different countries around the world.
To further enhance and harmonize the physical and social vulnerabilities with regards to resilience of school infrastructures subjected to multiple hazards in the Philippines, the UCL-EPICentre, DLSU and XUERC have again partnered for a project called PRISMH, to investigate the effectiveness of building retrofit measures, early warning provisions and social preparedness measures as means of preventing casualties, reducing economic losses and maintaining functionality of school infrastructures and its role in the community during disasters.
The PRISMH project will focus on learning how school infrastructures functioned and were used during past disaster events, particularly: in Surigao during the 2017 earthquake, in Tacloban during Typhoon Haiyan, and in Cagayan de Oro during recent floods events. The project aims to develop an innovative and advanced multi-hazard resilience assessment framework and guidelines for the effective role and function of school infrastructures in promoting resilient communities in the Philippines.