Surveyors Needed Post-Disaster; and First Disaster-Reconstruction Trade Show to Launch Next Summer

Surveyors Needed Post-Disaster

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) announced in May the formation of BuildAction (, a disaster-management initiative to bridge the gap between immediate short-term humanitarian relief and long-term reconstruction. According to a June 2006 RICS-commissioned study completed by the Max Locke Center at the University of Westminster, England, surveyors play a key role in all phases of disaster management from preparedness to immediate relief to transitional recovery to long-term reconstruction.

Headquartered in London, England, RICS is the largest organization of land surveyors and other property, land and construction professionals with 146,000 members working in 140 countries--2,868 of which are land surveyors. “Forming BuildAction speaks to the commitment of RICS to utilize its skills to help those who need it most,” said Matthew Bruck, managing director of New York-based RICS Americas.

BuildAction originated from the unprecedented post-disaster reconstruction skills needed after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed more than a quarter-million people. Following the disaster, many surveyors from a range of disciplines contacted RICS to volunteer their time and skills in the relief efforts, said RICS President David Tuffin. This response led to the creation of the RICS Major Disaster Management Commission to address how professionals with built-environment skills and knowledge could be deployed to help vulnerable communities at all stages of the disaster-management cycle. “Surveyors are unique in their breadth of skills,” Tuffin said. “Where our members fit in is really across the board and not just land-survey advice because, once marked boundaries disappear, the ability to fix the position of a piece of land and prove ownership is fundamental, particularly in building back.”

Scheduled to formally launch in September 2008, BuildAction will function as the charitable side of the Major Disaster Management Commission. While the commission continues to carry out the administrative and public relations work worldwide, BuildAction will bring together firms that provide staff on a free basis and humanitarian organizations that have projects needing expertise.

BuildAction is seeking support and volunteerism from businesses and individuals interested in developing and participating in the initiative. Activities include helping communities prepare for disasters through urban planning, application of building codes, dealing with land tenure issues and managing post-disaster reconstruction efforts. Surveying skills are a prerequisite; humanitarian training will be provided by relief organizations for those without disaster experience.

“We have had an amazing response to the BuildAction concept from major international surveying firms,” Tuffin said. “Provided the will exists, there are no obstacles that cannot be overcome. And helping others is not only corporate responsibility but a life-changing experience.”

First Disaster-Reconstruction Trade Show to Launch Next Summer

BNP Media, the parent company of POB magazine, and Imago Trade Shows joined forces to launch the National Disaster Reconstruction Expo (NDRExpo), the first trade show dedicated to the disaster-reconstruction industry. NDRExpo will take place June 17-18, 2009, in New Orleans. “As the case with the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans after Katrina or the Midwest floods, West Coast fires and U.S. killer tornadoes of 2008, the damage experienced from catastrophic disasters has often resulted in the need for complete community redevelopment,” said Jimmy Mouton, president of Imago Trade Shows, a division of Atlanta-based Imago Productions Inc. “This has included rezoning property and redefining property lines for redeveloping land and communities. NDRExpo will present an amazing opportunity for land surveyors to discuss their craft with the contracting community as well as the public and private sectors charged with managing the reconstruction.”

According to a December 2007 survey conducted by Imago Productions Inc., more than 83 percent of respondents indicated that a consolidated event for the disaster-reconstruction industry is needed. In response, the NDRExpo will unite the vertical markets associated with disaster preparation, response, recovery and rebuilding, which encompasses more than 50 industry segments represented by more than 75 associations and organizations. The majority of these vertical markets work together to rebuild communities that have suffered catastrophic losses and are served by the same manufacturers, distributors and service providers. “We look forward to bringing these different entities together in one world-class event in New Orleans and to providing the opportunity for them to learn from and support each other,” said Evan Kessler, publisher of Restoration & Remediation magazine, a BNP Media publication.

In addition to networking and educational opportunities, NDRExpo will present an exhibit floor containing the latest tools, equipment and services available to the industry today. “Land surveyors attending NDRExpo will be able to network with peers, build business relationships, sharpen skills and review the latest tools available for their craft,” Mouton said. “This will truly be a unique and one-of-a-kind event.”

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Associate Editor Wendy Lyons compiles “Newsline.” Contact her at 248/786-1620 or lyonsw@bnpmedia.