It’s up and running. The “it” is the West Coast system of sensors designed to give authorities in government, utilities, schools, businesses and average citizens an early warning of a coming earthquake. It will serve California, Oregon and Washington.
Doug Given is the early earthquake warning coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey. He spoke at a press conference announcing the completion of the project and said the system is finished but at first will only able to be used by some and not all.
“We’re making a large change from a production prototype in pilot mode to an open-for-business operational mode,” he said. That open for business mode analyzes data in an instant and send out alerts that give several seconds to up to a minute notice that an earthquake is about to happen.
That warning can be — in many cases — enough to stop trains, shut down industry, start a backup generator and give students in schools time to seek shelter. “The system is not yet finished, it’s not complete, there is a lot of work to be done, however there is a lot of capability in the system as it exists today to the point it can definitely be used,” Given said.
At this point the sensor network is half done. Funding is in place to finish the job. California’s system will be done completely in two-years and during that time frame the two Pacific Northwest states will see their system about two-thirds of the way built.
The reason mass public notification is not available yet is partly because of the current cellphone technology being too slow to do instant delivery.
“Most folks expect to get the alerts on their phone and that is of course the preferred way that we’d like to get it into everybody’s hands. Unfortunately the technology that is built into your phone to send you notifications was not designed with earthquake early warning in mind,” Givens said.
The funding for the system has been pushed by California Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff. He says in the future it will be important that people understand the alert system and what to do when they get an alert. Equally important is what not to do.
Schiff said, “The education component is going to be very, very important, but this is a wonderful milestone. We can now see the end, I hope, in two or three years where the system is fully built out and funded and in operation.”
Source link: Insurance Journal