Visual Inspection for defining the Safety Upgrading Strategies (VISUS)

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Ensuring the safety of people in case of natural hazards is one of the main concerns of public administrators in hazard-prone territories, particularly with reference to strategic and relevant major public buildings, such as schools.  This requires the definition of a rational and effective strategy for risk reduction based on the level of risk, criticalities, countermeasures and costs. With the scientific collaboration with the University of Udine, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) set out to create a multi-hazard school safety assessment methodology called Visual Inspection for defining the Safety Upgrading Strategies (VISUS). The method aims to help policymakers in deciding where to focus their risk reduction efforts and interventions based on available resources and scientific evidence.

VISUS helps decision-makers from the Ministries of Education, National Disaster Management Authorities, and other relevant institutions to understand which schools need priority interventions, which interventions are required and how much they would cost, and which upgrade actions are possible based on available resources. Five issues are investigated:

Data are collected using a mobile application and results are provided using simple graphical indicators. Collective and individual reports for each assessed school are delivered as outputs to aid decision-makers in defining strategies for intervention.

A bottom-up approach with the engagement of stakeholders from national and local authorities is used for the implementation of VISUS in each country to ensure that local needs are addressed. The Programme aims to build capacity in each recipient country by training professors and students from the civil engineering departments of local universities on how to perform the assessments using the UNESCO-VISUS methodology. National workshops are organized in each country and trainings for decision-makers, trainers, and surveyors are provided. VISUS is adaptable to different local contexts and needs. 




The methodology has been successfully implemented in six countries so far.  Most recently, 100 schools were assessed in the northern part of Haiti in 2017. In Indonesia, VISUS was implemented in two phases over the period 2014-2016. During the first phase, 60 schools were assessed in Bandung and Pangandarang; during the second phase, 100 schools in Ambon City and the Central Molucca District were evaluated. In Peru, the methodology was implemented in 60 schools in the city of Lima in 2016. The VISUS methodology has also been implemented in prototype projects in 1,022 schools in Italy, 100 schools in El Salvador, and 10 schools in Laos. Funds for a new pilot project in 100 schools in the Maputo region in Mozambique have been secured through GFDRR and the project has just seen its inception.

Resource: UNESCO and SPRINT University of Udine

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