Since 2003, an early focus has emerged on estimating earthquake fatalities, injuries, and financial losses. This new inquiry is not yet practiced by a majority of researchers, even though one might argue it is the most important question in seismology today. No sensitive structures like reservoir dams and nuclear power plants could be built without a detailed seismic hazard analysis specifically focused on the site. On the other hand, cities near large active faults do not have their building codes determined by rigorous and specific seismic hazard and risk analyses. This contrast is startling. It seems that where mostly money is at stake, it is mandatory to consider deterministic seismic hazard analyses for construction, whereas where mostly lives are at stake, it is not. I advocate that it should be mandatory for every major city near active faults to have the seismic hazard and risk estimated so as to put an adequate local building code and other safety measures in place. To this end, a standard procedure should be defined to assess local earthquake risk in populated areas exposed to earthquake hazards. In numerous countries, the population numbers in villages, as well as the locations and sizes of schools and hospitals, are not known, and some governments refuse to distribute this information, in spite of the fact that it would be for humanitarian purposes. Because the Open Street Map and Open Building Map begin to cover the globe, this missing information, essential for first responders in natural disasters, will become available and will contribute to preparing populations at risk to reduce the impact of unavoidable future earthquakes.

You do not have access to this content, please speak to your institutional administrator if you feel you should have access.