The seismological community is currently developing operational earthquake forecasting (OEF) systems that aim to estimate the seismicity in an area of interest, based on continuous ground‐motion recording by seismic networks; the seismicity may be expressed, for example, in terms of rates of events exceeding a certain magnitude threshold in a short period of time (days to weeks). OEF possibly may be used for short‐term seismic risk management in regions affected by seismic swarms only if its results may be the input to compute, in a probabilistically sound manner, consequence‐based risk metrics.
The present article reports on the feasibility of short‐term risk assessment, or operational earthquake loss forecasting (OELF), in Italy. The approach is that of performance‐based earthquake engineering, in which the loss rates are computed by means of hazard, vulnerability, and exposure. The risk is expressed in terms of individual and regional measures, which are based on short‐term macroseismic intensity (or ground‐motion intensity) hazard. The vulnerability of the built environment relies on damage probability matrices empirically calibrated for Italian structural classes; the exposure is represented in terms of buildings per vulnerability class and occupants per building typology. All vulnerability and exposure data are at the municipality scale.
The developed procedure, which is virtually independent of the seismological model used, is implemented in an experimental OELF system that continuously processes OEF information to produce nationwide risk maps applying to the week after the OEF data release. This is illustrated by a retrospective application to the 2012 Pollino (southern Italy) seismic sequence, which provides insights on the capabilities of the system and on the impact of the methodology currently used for OEF in Italy on short‐term risk assessment.