Responding to the Unimaginable - A message from our Director

Our world changed on the 22 February 2011. As a scientist and the Director of GeoNet, I’m an expert at numbers not with words. Explaining the impact of this earthquake with words is an almost impossible task.

When I reflect on the last five years, I see the tremendous growth that has occurred for our GeoNet project. Before the earthquakes, we were a little, rarely discussed seismic and volcanic monitoring network, known mainly by scientists, policy makers, hazard analysts and science fans. That all changed after 4 September 2010 and intensified on 22 February 2011 to a level we were not expecting.

Since then, the positives have been many.  What we know about earthquakes since 22 February has taken us to new and unexpected directions that we could not have imagined before the earthquake. We now have GeoNet Rapid, which delivers almost immediate information on earthquakes to our users. We now have ‘the GeoNet app’, along with our website and social media platforms. We sent out 2,150,890 push notifications (custom app alerts) on the recent Valentine’s Day earthquake on 14 February 2016.  However, it must be cold comfort for the people of Canterbury that the leaps and bounds in the science come from that earthquake that took so much. 

I am acutely aware that the costs of this growth have been exceedingly high. The loss of life, the damage to the city, the suffering of people, is almost unimaginable even five years later.  So perhaps the greatest learning for me was how people turned to GeoNet for support. I learned that science can sometimes comfort as well as inform.

With every large earthquake that has come since the 22 February 2011, the first consideration we have now is about the people affected and how we can communicate with them. We have become people centred, always learning more about how to provide the latest and most useful information to all our audiences. In this way, we honour the people of Christchurch, who are still teaching us lessons about resilience and enduring strength.


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