The software is being used to refine Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s bridge inspection process. ODOT is implementing the use of ShakeCast, a program created by the US Geological Survey.

ShakeCast is in the final stage of a two-year, two-phase, nearly US$650,000 contract with Infrastructure Engineers to assist the department in developing an earthquake response protocol.

The programme will enable the nearly 300 trained ODOT employees to determine which bridges to inspect first after an earthquake. If conditions warrant, key ODOT employees will receive a software-generated inspection priority order based on several factors including ODOT bridge data such as bridge condition, age and proximity to an earthquake’s epicenter, combined with USGS seismic movement data and magnitude rating.

Previously ODOT visually inspected all bridges within 8km of any earthquake epicenter between 4.4 to 4.7 magnitude. The inspection radius increased with the earthquake magnitudes.

Generally, with a 4 to 5 magnitude earthquake no damage has been found. Going forward with ShakeCast, the inspections will identify only specific bridges susceptible to damage, allowing for a faster and more pinpointed response.

“This technology is one of the biggest advances in ensuring public safety that I’ve seen in my 30-year career at the department,” said Casey Shell, ODOT chief engineer. “By comparing state bridge data with the severity of an earthquake’s ground motions, ShakeCast will allow us to inspect fewer bridges but with a much greater degree of confidence that we could quickly find any potential damage.”

ODOT has joined nine other earthquake-prone states in a pooled-fund study with the USGS to help further enhance ShakeCast. The study information will be used to develop future versions of the software. ODOT is contributing an additional US$45,000 to the USGS over a three-year period.