Recognizing we want to be careful in the forum about speculating on the cause of the Surfside condo collapse aligned with the ASCE statement that came out earlier this week, a number of general questions have been circulating in my head that triggered by the facts that have come to light. As engineers how we can we better communicate the severity of problems balancing being alarmist (and possibly putting future credibility and opportunities at risk) with need to properly inform? This is compounded by oft having to communicate to clients or others that are non-engineers and do understand meaning or subtleties. For policy and regulation makers I think there's a question of how to compel action. The Surfside condo collapse has highlighted the challenge dealing with diffuse ownership. The final question is one of engineering competency within government entities. Finally, can this tragedy be used a wake up call to catalyze support for addressing this countries failing infrastructure – and systems that enable?
Dear Mitch, you are right! There is the need to know the truth, and everyone's asking what happened in that collapse. We have to be cautious in what we have to say about it until the official reports are delivered. Some people challenge us to know if we, as engineers, know to solve the puzzle. As you said, delivering the wrong message (especially in the media) could unnecessarily transfer some alarm.
What is important is not to let pass this event like another more and always protect people's lives (preparing them, enhancing our design standards, monitoring structures, etc.).Regards,AG