Origins of the Hong Kong Geotechnical Engineering Office (GEO)

Hong Kong GEO Emergency Control Center

The Hong Kong Geotechnical Engineering Office (GEO) runs perhaps the best-known landslide safety and slope monitoring programs in the world. The BBC recently profiled this organization and their work in a recent article that should be a must-read for geotechnical and geological engineers. For those who don’t know, the GEO was created after two particularly devastating landslides occurred on the same day in 1972, Sau Mau Ping and Po Shan Road, killing 138 people in total. A total of 156 people were killed by landslides in Hong Kong in the entirety of 1972.

Among the GEO’s credits is the establishment of the world’s first landslide early warning system in 1977. They are also known to be one of the most advanced agencies when it comes to proactive slope mitigation and building codes for geotechnical mitigation structures and landslide resistant infrastructure. But perhaps most impressive is the fact that there has not been a single death caused by landslides in Hong Kong since 2008.

The article does a great job putting the work of the GEO in context, looking through the eyes of a landslide survivor from the Sau Mau Ping disaster. Thinking about things like that, and knowing the impact that the geotechnical engineers of the GEO have made on people’s lives is what makes me proud to be a geotechnical engineer!