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Engineering Innovations in Times of Disaster Save Lives

Engineering Innovations in Times of Disaster Save Lives, Win 'Oscars'

3 August 2018 – Hamilton, NZ

The response to the unparalleled damage caused by Cyclone Winston and the Canterbury Earthquakes have taken away two prestigious awards at engineering’s equivalent of the Oscars, the 2018 ACENZ Innovate Awards.

In the spotlight were Tonkin + Taylor (T+T) engineers, Dr Sjoerd van Ballegooy and Dr Tim Fisher, for their world-leading work in the identification and qualification of complex land damage – in particular, liquefaction and flooding – caused by the 2010-2011 Canterbury Earthquakes.

They were joined by Geotechnical Discipline Manager, John Leeves, who in February 2016 led T+T’s pro bono Cyclone Winston rapid disaster mapping team, assisting the New Zealand and Fiji Governments and many international aid agencies in their humanitarian aid efforts.

“Both projects highlight our teams’ willingness to step up when disaster strikes and work ‘above and beyond’ to help communities devastated by disaster,” says Natural Hazard Resilience Sector Director, Richard Reinen-Hamill.

“The resulting portfolio of work has won international accolades and awards. We're delighted to see an ACENZ Innovate Gold added to that.”

Meanwhile, T+T’s work following Cyclone Winston’s devastation of Fiji in February 2016, which resulted in one of the New Zealand Defence Force’s largest peacetime deployments in the Pacific, has won an ACENZ Innovate Merit award.

T+T’s world-leading learnings and technologies, fine-tuned during our work in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes, were applied to help triage the international humanitarian aid response in cyclone-ravaged Fiji.

Disaster relief organisations such as UNOCHA, UNICEF, Red Cross, Oxfam and Save the Children, as well as NGOs and Government agencies, were provided with Tonkin + Taylor’s “click and see” rapid disaster mapping viewer to help prioritise efficient relief efforts.

“Rapid disaster mapping is now recognised as the gold standard for the collation, analysis and dissemination of data following natural disasters. It has since been deployed to map land damage resulting from the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake and, more recently, in Tonga, following Cyclone Gita,” says Richard.

“Work is now underway in collaboration with the Council for International Development (CID), the umbrella organisation which represents the New Zealand based NGOs, to help break down barriers between the private and humanitarian sectors so that they can collaborate effectively on future disasters.”


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