Measures Database VIIA/Royal Haskoning – Make Groningen earthquake-proof

Groningen is a province in the Netherlands where natural gas is extracted on a large scale, causing earthquakes and damage to homes. After years of denial by the Dutch State and Oil and Gas Extraction Companies, finally there is acknowledgement and therefore all these cases now have to be dealt with.

The traditional approach would take twenty years

VIIA -a joint venture between engineering firm Royal HaskoningDHV and contracter Visser & Smit Bouw- has been established to make buildings in the earthquake area around the Groningen Gas Field safe by order of Centrum Veilig Wonen (CVW) through taking stock of the required reinforcement measures for all public buildings. An immense task. Following the usual approach, it would take about twenty years before Groningen was earthquake-proof…

Backlog & bottleneck

VIIA put all its resources into this assignment at the beginning of 2015. The team works from inside out: properties in the heart of the earthquake area are first in line. In the meantime, earthquakes (may) still occur, increasing the (social) pressure on this project.


Can you design and computerize a knowledge-intensive process?

This assignment does not benefit from being hurried. The VIIA work process is intensive and each step in the current process is important.

• Property is visited by an inspector
• Measurement data are detailed in construction drawings
• Required reinforcement becomes clear with calculation models
• A specialist indicates possible reinforcement measures
• Stakeholder meeting selects the most suitable measure (costs, property appearance, health and safety are all involved)

A process with so many links and players of course lends itself to the computerization of (part of) the process. And that was the problem VIIA came to us with.


Our view: put the user first and starting small has a bigger effect

As a digital agency we approach things from a user’s perspective. The first thing we had to do was understand VIIA’s process in detail. What happens when and why? Who is involved? What is all connected? During this study we arrived at the conclusion it’s better to start small. By doing so, you do not only give the project the opportunity to learn and develop, it also ensures that you can create support amongst those involved step by step. We found the main gain to be in the step establishing the measures that qualify and the visualization of them.


Digital skill

VIIA has meanwhile got to work with the new tool. Measurement data for a property were previously entered manually in a calculation model. An expert could use those results to ascertain which measure qualified. A labor-intensive process involving a lot of expert knowledge, which is repeated for every property. Now the inspection service enters its measurement data, as before. The program builds a 3D model, allowing a filtered view of reinforcement measures to be looked at and assigned, complete with what this means for costs.




Next step: a lot more time can be saved

Starting small doesn’t mean that the impact is small. Other stakeholders have also noticed the introduction of the new tool. For instance, the meeting that usually follows is still needed, but does now benefit from a visual representation of the property, immediately showing the total impact and material costs. Subcontractors see opportunities in how a project can be requested from them. In brief, this assignment is not yet finished. We are expanding VIIA’s computerization step by step, so that the announcement ‘Groningen Veilig (Safe)’ comes ever closer.

Starting from scratch, the positive reception from the stakeholders gives us the opportunity to expand the tool. Digitalize earlier in the process, keeping the property owner informed through clarifying the aesthetic impact and designing self-learning algorithms, allowing repetitive choices to be scaled.




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