Getting Quake Safe in Oakland

Our new app helps Oaklanders get Earthquake Safe!

Oakland has almost 610 homes at risk of collapse or serious damage in the next earthquake we will experience! These homes, called “soft-story” buildings are multi-unit, wood-frame, residential buildings with a first story that lacks adequate strength or stiffness to prevent leaning or collapse in an earthquake. These buildings pose a safety risk to tenants and occupants, a financial risk to owners and risk to the recovery of the City and region.

Today we are launching a new OpenOakland web and mobile app that will help inform and prepare Oakland renters and homeowners living in these buildings at risk of earthquake damage. The new app: SoftStory.OpenOakland.org provides Oaklanders with a fast, easy way to see if their home has been evaluated as a potential Soft Story building and is at increased risk in an earthquake.

The stats:

609: multi-unit buildings assessed to be at risk in Oakland

238: buildings have been assessed and found to have been retrofitted or to be exempt.

531: buildings are soft story types but have not had complete screenings yet.

1378: total soft story buildings in Oakland


 

This new app relies on data from a screening of potential soft story buildings undertaken by the City of Oakland and data analyzed by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). Owners and renters can see if their home is is considered at risk or has already been retrofitted, and learn about the risks to soft-story buildings in a serious earthquake, an event that is once again on people’s minds after last week’s magnitude 6.0 earthquake in Napa.


 

We’re launching this app as a prototype with short notice as we believe this information is critical for Oaklanders at this time.  The app was built with the support of ABAG and the City of Oakland and had technical support provided by Code for America.  Once again, where local government is increasingly transparent, where data is open and in open formats, our community can build new tools to help inform and empower residents.

To see if your building is at risk visit:SoftStory.OpenOakland.org

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Concerned Internet Citizens of California

Net Neutrality is a big deal. My opinion and as of today the opinion of our President. The FCC is considering a rule to allow internet providers to charge premo rates to big companies to give them better speed to deliver their content to you the consumer, sounds like a reasonable idea at first? The problem is the internet was create as an open, even, fair system and was engineered to always allow for fair treatment of anyone’s content- the problem is that when Verizon, Comcast etc charge Netflix big dollars for faster pipes, they can also refuse to do so and then favor their own network content- no longer a level playing field. For small businesses this means they will no longer be able to compete in the same way- startups like, say, Facebook several years back could not afford to pay for this premium delivery, so they get wiped out- bad for innovation, bad for consumers.

That’s a short a bad summary, anyway, there’s a great engagement and democracy side to this- the FCC opened up for comments and in new open government fashion then published all the >1 million comments in raw open data for free download, yay! The nice folks at Smarter Chicago beat me to processing the data, and so you also shouldn’t mess with that, just grab the data in a nice easy format. I wanted to see how active and how vocal different communities in California were about this issue- were big cities the source of the complaints? Were small, isolated towns aware of this issue and vocal?

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I grabbed the processed data, aggregated by City names, cleared out some junk data, combined it with Census populations and locations (I forgot how painful it is to get basic Census data these days) and calculated a simple rate- for every 100,000 people in a city/town, how many comments got submitted- neither for or against, but just how active and engaged are people in California? There are a bunch of small towns left off as their rates are not reliable. Take a look at your region, are you surprised how high or low your rate is?

I was somewhat surprised to see a few rural towns topping the commenter lists- Nevada City (oops, maybe this is my family complaining?), has the highest rate followed by Sebastapol – NorCal represent… San Francisco, the tech darling is down at 44 with almost 7,000 comments but a rate of only 782. Oaktown is less activist full than normal at #80 with a rate of 536 and dearest Silicon Valley/Palo Alto is a shameful 63rd at a rate of 665- tech city needs some more concerned residents?

The data with city by city stats are below.