ShakeAlert: The Path to West Coast Earthquake Early Warning ... how a few seconds can save lives and property
Doug Given and Dr. Robert-Michael de Groot, USGS Pasadena
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), along with partner organizations, has developed an earthquake early warning (EEW) system called ShakeAlert for the highest risk areas of the United States: namely, California, Oregon, and Washington. The purpose of the ShakeAlert System is to reduce the impact of earthquakes and save lives and property by providing alerts (ShakeAlerts) that are transmitted to the public via mass notification technologies and more detailed data streams to institutional users and commercial service providers to trigger automated user-specific protective actions. The ShakeAlert System is built on the foundation of the sensor networks and data processing infrastructure of the USGS-led Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) and requires fast, reliable telemetry to deliver sensor data to processing centers. The ShakeAlert data processing infrastructure includes redundant servers that are geographically distributed at the monitoring centers of tier 1 ANSS seismic networks in Seattle, Washington, as well as Menlo Park, Berkeley, and Pasadena in California. To have the greatest benefit, ShakeAlerts will be delivered to institutional users and individuals by all practical pathways. ShakeAlerts are useless if people do not know how to respond to them. Although the alerts will include instructions about what to do (e.g. drop, cover, and hold on), they will be more effective if people have been trained in advance. Messages about ShakeAlert’s capabilities, limitations, and benefits should be integrated with existing earthquake education programs, including State-run programs. ShakeAlert’s Joint Committee for Communication, Education, and Outreach coordinates with both public and private partners and stakeholders through various partnerships and agreements to accomplish consistent and ongoing public education and training. The estimated cost of completing the computing infrastructure and sensor networks for ShakeAlert is $39.4 million. The annual operation and maintenance cost of the completed system is estimated to be $28.6 million per year.
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