bikes on tehran’s streets

19 02 2010

Tehran’s municipality has established a bicycle venue “in one district of the city as part of an experimental program to help ease traffic congestion, improve air quality and cater to the desires of increasingly health- and fitness-oriented Iranians.” I have always admired similar programs in European cities (e.g., Paris, Barcelona, etc.), but never thought Tehran’s landscape and culture was bike friendly. I was wrong:

lessons from the tragedy in haiti

27 01 2010

[By SD]   I went to a very interesting seminar yesterday at Berkeley on the preliminary reconnaissance of the tragic Haiti Earthquake. You can watch the entire webcast on:

You can find the photo collection of the speaker (Eduardo Fierro) at:

My overall impression was that:

1) This disaster was tragic, but unfortunately not unique. Similar to many developing countries, the tragedy was not caused by the earthquake, but by bad construction and related policies

2) We, as engineers, can help Haiti through grassroots actions, organizations, and networks, such as Build Change or GeoHazard International Read the rest of this entry »

our proposed uRespond concept sketches for the “random hacks of kindness” event

7 11 2009
URespond advisor's presentation.006-001

simple rapid user input

URespond advisor's presentation.007-001

mapping of local user updates

current emergency response protocol

Read the rest of this entry »

tehran’s minor earthquake on saturday

19 10 2009

Tehran experienced a minor earthquake (Richter magnitude 4) on Saturday at 2:23 pm local time ( It seems that most Tehranies felt this shake. There is now a widespread fear of aftershocks and possibly bigger earthquakes due to more activities on the Eivanaki fault in southeast Tehran. Since information on the historical activity of this fault seems to be limited, it is difficult to make accurate probabilistic predictions on the likelihood of an aftershock. But it is certainly possible and quite likely to have another earthquake soon (not necessarily related to this particular fault movement). Tehran sits on major active faults and suffers from a large seismic risk due to fault activity, poor construction practice, and large population. The occurance of this recent minor earthquake may have influenced the stresses in the surrounding faults and might have increased the existing seismic risk facing Tehran.

 tehran map

Tehrani residents, engineers, contractors, general public, please be aware and pay attention to this important risk that you will have to deal with sooner or later. To learn how to protect yourself before, during, and after an earthquake, visit this site by FEMA:

In two of our previous posts, we also had some good discussion on earthquake preparedness in Tehran:

Tehrani engineers, architects, and contractors: I assume that you already know how to make earthquake resistant structures in a cost-effective way. If you have questions/concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will try my best to send you information on the current state of practice (in structural and geotechnical design) for your specific project. If you are not convinced about the risks facing your city and need more information on the probability of earthquakes in the coming years, also please don’t hesitate to let me know or contact someone at IIEES in Tehran ( Keep in mind that you are responsible for your building, and negligence and lack of knowledge are not acceptable any more.

tehran disaster management

13 05 2009

[By SD]   I came across this link yesterday and thought it might be interesting to TehranShake: www.tdmmo.ir13850810-204031-portal2

tehran vs. tokyo

17 10 2008

[By Shideh]   Tehran mayor, Mr. Qalibaf, has been trying to learn from and collaborate with other big cities in the world to improve Tehran in many ways.  I find his attempts promising and in the right direction:


Tehran can learn a great deal from Tokyo in terms of pollution reduction and earthquake safety.  Perhaps Japan is one of the few remaining nations that has not paid much attention to the US attempts to impose international sanctions on Iran – up to debate.  This is a great start for Qalibaf to attract Japanese investment and collaborate with the mayor of Tokyo to improve Tehran’s infrastructure.  However, an important part of the problem in Tehran and Iran in general is not related to technical expertise and lack of knowledge.  The main problem seems to be deeply rooted in social awareness and culture.  It takes a great number of local experts on the social psychology of Tehranians to solve the essential problems that are unique to Tehran and do not apply to Tokyo.  Japan in particular has a culture vastly different from those of Iranians and I hope that their solutions and policies will not be blindly applied to Tehran. Iran has a history of blindly following policies of developed nations to improve its system (i.e. education, infrastructure, architecture, city planning, etc.) and my impression is that these attempts have lead to disastrous results and confusion on our own social/cultural identity.

demography, urbanism, etc

12 08 2008

[By Shawhin]   My friend just sent me a nice article on urbanism, planning, gentrification trends, etc in North American cities.  It’s a great read – but be sure to also read the comments and arguments: (Thanks, Mei!)

For good complimentary reading, check out Robert Putnam’s (Professor of Public Policy at Harvard) article on social capital:

Or listen to an interview with Prof. Putnam, at: