Recent advances are improving the speed and accuracy of loss estimates immediately after earthquakes so that injured people may be rescued more efficiently After major and large earthquakes, rescue agencies and civil defense managers rapidly need quantitative estimates of the extent of the potential disaster, at a time when data from the affected area may not yet have reached the outside world. Loss estimates for hypothetical future earthquakes are also reaching a level where they are useful for motivating and planning earthquake disaster mitigation.
In many developing countries, urbanization and population are increasing at an unprecedented pace. Therefore, the extent of future earthquake disasters cannot easily be estimated from historical experience that typically dates from a hundred years ago. Even for order of magnitude estimates of future losses, it is necessary to include information on the current quality of buildings, the soil properties, and the present population.