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California Hospitals Race to Comply with Seismic Safety Laws

In case you missed it, the California state government has set a deadline for hospitals to meet the seismic safety building standards set by SB1953. In their race against time, hospitals must minimize the risk of a collapse by next year, and ensure their buildings are safe to operate even after a massive earthquake by 2030.

SB1953 was placed into California law after the the 6.7 Northridge Earthquake back in 1994, which caused $25 billion in damages and dozens dead. This temblor also resulted in a turbulent time for hospitals in the state, as 11 hospitals were damaged while eight were evacuated. The quest for California hospitals’ safety from similar seismic dangers won’t be an easy one, as there are many obstacles in the way.

The Calm Before the Storm

California is a hotspot for earthquakes as it lies along a number of fault zones, but it’s been a relatively quiet time for the state. From 1969 to 1994, 32 earthquakes with a magnitude of 6 or higher occurred. In contrast, only 11 earthquakes at the same level were recorded in the last 25 years. The most recent deadly earthquake occurred in August 2014 in Napa Valley, which was a 6.0 on the Richter scale.

On the surface, things are seemingly serene, but scientists warn California’s citizens to be wary of the prolonged absence of major earthquakes because it means that a series of them could soon occur.

Elizabeth Cochran, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, explains, “We have a decade or two where we don’t have many earthquakes, and people expect that’s what California is always like.” She adds that soon enough, “we’re going to dramatically see a change in earthquake rates.”

Vice reveals this rise in earthquake rates could bring about the Big One, a hypothetical earthquake that is expected to strike through the San Andreas Fault. This covers over 750 miles of California, and is known for producing powerful earthquakes every 150 years. However, there hasn’t been any in the area for over 200 years. Experts believe that this delay in the San Andreas Fault will result in the Big One. However, what experts aren’t sure about is if hospitals state-wide would be able to meet the seismic safety standards when it strikes.

The Cost of Safety

With the inevitability of a major earthquake in the near future, the California Hospital Association recently funded a study to assess the state of seismic safety standards of the state’s hospitals. Results revealed that California hospitals would need to invest between $34 billion and $143 billion in upgrades to meet the preventive measures set by state law. This presents a huge problem, as although the 2020 expectations would most likely be met, many California hospitals fear they won’t be able to afford the cost for the 2030s.

Despite the urgent need to retrofit, complying with the criterion is an uphill struggle for many healthcare facilities in California. Out of over 418 general acute-care hospitals state-wide, 34% of them are in financial trouble. If they were to reach the 2030 deadline for the seismic safety building standards, that number would rise to 50%.

Of course, the financial pressure does not exist in a vacuum. It’s a stressful time overall, as Maryville University reports that the healthcare industry is facing a slew of challenges, such as increasingly complex healthcare systems and an impending shortage of practitioners. The failure to properly address the issue of seismic safety will only lead to even more concerns.

Given all this, seismic safety laws could possibly ruin hospitals even before the Big One hits, as hospitals run the risk of substandard nursing and medical facilities, understaffed medical personnel, and disgruntled patients.

The Health of California Hospitals

There have already been some casualties.

After 157 years of operating in Los Angeles, the Pacific Alliance Medical Center (PAMC) closed its doors because it wasn’t financially fit to meet the state’s seismic safety standards. The press release explained that the land the hospital is built on is leased and cannot be bought: “The hospital building does not meet current California seismic standards and it is not economically viable for us to invest nearly $100 million to build a hospital on land that we would not own.”

Meanwhile, Healdsburg District Hospital in Sonoma County is still up and running, and has a secure seismic rating. However, its officials worry it might suffer the same fate as PAMC. Properly retrofitting the 50-year-old facility would cost at least $15 million — a figure CEO Joe Harrington explains could instead “replace aging infrastructure, including a new HVAC system, new medical gas, an oxygen system, and bigger operating room suites.” He adds, “For twice that amount, the hospital could get a whole new inpatient wing and skilled nursing facility or a slew of facilities upgrades.”

California hospitals must make a tough choice in the coming years. Do they spend millions of dollars to rebuild and subsequently reduce their operating budgets, or do they shut down their facilities entirely?

WorkSafe Technologies manufactures several products to mitigate the seismic risk of critical equipment in your hospital. For more information please contact us

Case Study: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is one of three federally funded research and development centers operated by the U.S. Department of Energy. It is located in Livermore, California. Livermore is about 40 miles east of the heart of San Francisco. Its primary duty is ensuring the safety, security and reliability of the United States nuclear weapons through the application of advanced science, engineering and technology.

Sierra Supercomputer

One of newest projects at LLNL is the installation of the Sierra supercomputer. It was completed in 2018. Sierra is very similar in architecture to the Summit supercomputer built for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. It is operated in conjunction with the United States National Nuclear Security Administration.

Sierra is just one of several supercomputers in operation at LLNL. They are all located in the Livermore Computing Complex. It operates in just under 10,000 square feet of space at the laboratory. The Computing Complex handles both classified and unclassified national security programs. Sierra is currently ranked as the number two supercomputer in the world. It has a sustained maximum performance of 94.6 petaflops per second. A petaflop is a unit of computing speed equal to one thousand million million (1015) floating-point operations per second. However, a more powerful supercomputer is already in development at LLNL. It will be named El Capitan.

Sierra is completely cut off from any other network. This practice is known as Air-Gapping. This was done so that Sierra will operate in a classified manner. Sierra will be trying to answer questions about our current nuclear arsenal. The arsenal cannot be tested because of a nuclear non-proliferation treaty signed by the US in 1970. Sierra will tackle this issue by modeling and running simulations.

Earthquake Risk

One of the challenges LLNL faces is its location. It is located in a high-risk seismic region of Northern California, the San Francisco Bay Area. There are seven major earthquake faults in the San Francisco Bay area: The San Gregorio, San Andreas, Hayward, Calaveras, Rodgers Creek, Concord-Green Valley, and Greenville faults. This means that the Livermore Computing Complex could experience damage from a seismic event occurring on one of these faults, or even one that is not listed. According to the USGS, the San Francisco Bay area has a high probability of experiencing an earthquake of at least 6.7 magnitude sometime in the next 30 years.

Seismic Solution

This has been remedied for Sierra as well as the other supercomputers in the Livermore Computing Complex. Since 2011, LLNL has been installing ISO-Base™ platforms underneath their server racks. ISO-Base™ was developed using proprietary base isolation technology. Its patented Ball-N-Cone™ isolator protects valuable IT equipment by decoupling strong seismic shock and vibrations away from sensitive components.

ISO-Base™ currently protects nearly one half trillion dollars of IT equipment in over 30 countries. For nearly 20 years, ISO-Base™ has been tested and proven in significant real-world events in Japan, Peru, New Zealand, Nepal, and many others without failures.

LLNL chose to protect the security of their entire supercomputing complex with ISO-Base™ platforms. This helps ensure the performance and the operational continuity of Sierra. Shouldn’t you?

SoCal encounters more than just Fireworks over the 4th of July holiday

Los Angeles residents experienced a different kind of excitement over the holiday weekend. The region was hit by two large earthquakes with epicenters about 180 miles from the San Andreas fault and about 150 miles from Downtown Los Angeles in the Searles Valley near Ridgecrest, CA.

The first quake struck Thursday morning at 10:33 AM with a magnitude of 6.4. This turned out to be a foreshock to a bigger 7.1 magnitude quake shook the region on Friday at 8:19 PM, according to the USGS. Both quakes were felt across much of Southern California, parts of Arizona and Nevada, as far north as the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, and as far south as Baja California, Mexico

Since then, there has been a series of aftershocks, including five measuring 5 to 5.4 on the Richter magnitude scale. At least one magnitude 3 aftershock rattled the area on Monday morning, according to the USGS.

Although the quakes were felt in parts of 4 states, damage was mostly contained to the Ridgecrest region and there were no fatalities. In contrast, the 6.7 magnitude Northridge shaker in 1994 killed more than 50 people and caused in excess of $40 billion in damage. Like Northridge, the two Ridgecrest quakes occurred on a previously unknown faults.

Both substantial earthquakes not only damaged roads and kindled fires, but also left a rupture in the Earth so large it could be seen from space. Before and after photos were taken by a satellite on July 4 and 6. They show a rupture in the Earth’s crust close to the epicenter of Friday’s 7.1 magnitude quake.

July 4th

July 6th

Had these earthquakes occurred on a different unknown fault say within 100 miles of Downtown Los Angeles or the Bay Area, damage might have been catastrophic.

Last year, a simulation was run by Berkley, called the HayWired Scenario. This scenario was run to give a striking, realistic depiction of a large Bay Area quake in today’s world, taking into account the wireless and interconnected Bay Area. The result calculated approximately 8 hundred possible deaths and more than 18 thousand injuries. It also predicted about 450 large fires near the epicenter and eighty-three billion in property and business losses.

The main reason why the scenario was run, was to help the public know what to expect when an event like this happens as well as encourage them to prepare for the inevitable large quake. In light of the recent seismic events, researchers at the USGS (United States Geological Survey) wanted to reiterate the prediction they made after the Haywired simulation. They believe an earthquake of a magnitude of 6.7 or higher will strike the San Francisco Bay area along the San Andreas fault zone before 2030.

If you operate a data center, hospital or laboratory and you aren’t prepared, contact us. WorkSafe Technologies is the global leader in seismic protection for critical systems.

Southern California hit by tiny earthquakes every 3 minutes, study finds

There’s a whole lot of shakin’ going on in Southern California – 10 times more than seismologists had thought. But most of those earthquakes are so tiny that no one feels them.

Using a more accurate way of finding teeny tiny earthquakes, scientists counted 1.8 million of the temblors in Southern California from 2008 to 2017, according to a report in Thursday’s journal Science . The current catalog of quakes for the area has just under 180,000 for that decade.

(Read More)

California’s in an exceptional earthquake drought. When will it end?

California is in an earthquake drought.
It has been almost five years since the state experienced its last earthquake of magnitude 6 or stronger — in Napa. Southern California felt its last big quake on Easter Sunday 2010, and that shaker was actually centered across the border, causing the most damage in Mexicali.

(Read More)

Three independent models converge on the high earthquake potential of Los Angeles

Metropolitan Los Angeles is being squeezed from south to north at 8-9 mm/yr (⅓ inch per year), about one-fourth the rate your fingernails grow. This squeeze was the ultimate driving force behind the 1971 San Fernando, 1987 Whittier Narrows and 1994 Northridge earthquakes, three days Angelenos need no reminder of. These tremors were “thrust” earthquakes, in which the top side of the fault is thrust up and over the bottom side – the optimal way to accommodate a tectonic squeeze. The tolls of these earthquakes prompt a natural question.

Damage at the San Fernando Veterans Administration hospital in Sylmar killed 49 people. The VA hospital wasn’t the only hospital damaged. New, supposedly earthquake-resistant buildings at Olive View hospital, also in Sylmar, were destroyed.

The quake also damaged freeways and left older buildings in surrounding cities like Burbank, Glendale and Beverly Hills destroyed beyond repair.

(Read More)

Edge Computing Becomes a Reality

The Edge Data Center market is predicted to top more than $13 billion by 2024; according to a report by Global Market Insights, Inc. The overwhelming demand for edge and cloud computing technology is pushing the market to unforeseen heights. 2019 promises to be an exciting year for WorkSafe Technologies. We believe that the IT industry will be dominated by edge computing and artificial intelligence (AI). As a concept, edge data center development has been deliberated and evaluated for years. We are now at the point where edge computing is becoming a reality as production and implementation of these systems is happening now. Edge infrastructure investments are increasing at a record pace and we should see significant investment in edge data centers over the next 5 years. Where there is a need for more streaming, networking, and storage close to the end user, moving to the edge is the natural answer.
What’s driving the demand for edge computing? The speed of today’s business environment requires fast and smooth access to critical data. Streaming video is expected to account for about 70 percent of all internet traffic and as the video streaming market continues to grow over the next several years, live-streaming video will up that percentage.
Too many important business and consumer decisions are dependent on a real-time flow of information. This means that there is even a lesser tolerance of latency. People want to be constantly connected and then while they are connected to experience instant gratification. Google said that when a website doesn’t load quickly, more than half of visitors will leave the site.
Ultimately when relocating or building an edge data center back to serve the population base, Edge DC’s will need to be built in high to moderate seismic zones. WorkSafe Technologies is here to protect your investment by seismically isolating your critical equipment with ISO-Base™ platforms, or with our new ISO-Dynamic™ heavy-duty isolated raised-access flooring.
Contact us today for more information.

The Northridge Quake Struck Twenty-Five Years Ago Today

Twenty-five years ago, just before dawn on Jan. 17, 1994, the Northridge earthquake struck. Those of us who lived it, remember distinctly the chaos of that morning. The quake caused $25 billion in damages and killed dozens.

Northridge was an event that disrupted the lives of people in the Greater San Fernando Valley extensively. The damage was widespread and affected freeways, buildings, and other infrastructure.

Every time an earthquake such as Northridge strikes, we are forced to realize just how unprepared we are.

We know that another quake will strike sometime in the next 30 years. The “Big One” or San Andreas earthquake will unsettle the lives of everyone in Southern California and it might take us years or even decades to fully recover. Think about how different your lives are today from then. Most of us didn’t have cell phones, and the internet was still in its infancy. How dependent are you on the internet? Is your company equipped and ready to operate without it?

That said, to survive a major earthquake, it’s important that you prepare your life and your company to weather the quake. Stock up on water, food, medicine and make sure you have somewhere to go, in-case you cannot stay in your home. It is imperative for all citizens of Los Angeles work out some sort of emergency plan. Then your need to prepare your facility when the “Big One” strikes.

Tips to Protect Your Data Center from an Earthquake

The simple physical nature of data centers puts your organization at risk. Damage from disasters caused by Mother Nature can be particularly destructive to server racks. This is particularly true for earthquakes, so make sure that you follow these tips if you are managing a data center in a seismic region.

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Determine risk

The first step in protection from seismic damage is determining risk. If your facility operates in California or near a fault line, risk will be higher than other data centers. If you are in California, the California Geological Survey has an online tool that will allow you to see whether or not your facility is on a fault line or at risk of liquefaction. It uses USGS seismic data to evaluate your risk.

Consider which floor your data centers are placed on

The location of your data center within your facility can also impact your risk. Data centers on higher floors generally have an increased risk of tipping over, so keep this front of mind.

Install seismic server racks

Installing specialty server racks is a solution to helping mitigate the risk of an earthquake. These cabinets feature augmented bases to keep the rack in place. This method can be costly, so look at alternative methods such as base isolation. WorkSafe Technologies has a variety of products which use base isolation to secure your data center such as ISO-Base™ and the ISO-Dynamic™ flooring system.

Be prepared for all risks from an earthquake

Preparing your data center is vital to seismic risk management. Isolating your server racks is only the first step. Be sure to account for a variety of seismic risks to your data center. Remember to organize your cabling to better prepare for an earthquake. Reducing the risk as much as possible allows you to recover from natural disaster easier.

Inspect your data center and your racks regularly

Stay prepared for the unexpected nature of earthquakes by ensuring your data center is in tip-top shape. Select someone internally to check your entire data center and point out any areas of concern. Adopt solutions to these issues as soon as possible to keep your data center protected.

Preparing your facility for earthquakes is a vital part of running a data center in an area of seismic risk. Data centers are increasing at an impressive rate so make sure to be equipped for the future of your data center.

Traditional Bolting of Server Cabinets Doesn’t Work for Earthquake Protection

While there have been major advancements in earthquake early warning systems, they only give you a few seconds to get ready for the coming quake. Buildings and homes will still be destroyed, and the early warning systems provide enough time for people to get to safety. These systems are still not common in the U.S. and Data center managers have to protect themselves and their facilities in case one strikes.

Seismic-rated cabinets and bracing can be very expensive. This has led many companies to move their data centers to areas that are less likely to have an earthquake. However, current latency issues have made the need for edge data centers much more prominent. So, when it is necessary to have a facility located in an earthquake zone, what can data center managers do to mitigate the damage caused by a seismic event?

When an earthquake strikes, server rack equipment has increased vulnerability to physical damage and data corruption. Most racks are designed to keep equipment safe while stationary, but what if the ground isn’t stationary?

A common solution to this problem has been to bolt this equipment to the floor. While this will provide the bare minimum level of protection for life safety of your employees, it is not ideal. Bolting the equipment transfers the shaking from the ground through the cabinet causing your mission critical equipment contained in your rack to sustain major damage. This rapid movement and vibration can permanently damage sensitive electronics and affect the data they contain.

Your employees may survive the shaking, but they won’t be happy when your facility isn’t fully operational for days, weeks, or even months after a major quake. If Southern California were to be hit by the Big One, southland data centers would suffer from serious supply chain issues. Will your company survive having a nonoperational data center?

ISO-Base™ platforms from WorkSafe Technologies offer a much more reliable solution than bolting. Using patented ball and cone technology, ISO-Base™ platforms are built to isolate your racks from the violent shaking caused by an earthquake. The company has been building these platforms for over 20 years and has passed many shake-table tests including Belcore Nebs GRC 63, and has had successful real-world tests in earthquakes such as Tohoku, Japan 2011 and in Christchurch, New Zealand 2016.

To learn more about ISO-Base™ please click here or visit www.worksafetech.com

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