Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Earthquake alert system created for wireless devices


February 18, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced that earthquake early warning alerts will be offered for direct delivery to wireless devices beginning in May.

Working with a team of organizations, the USGS developed the system to send warnings straight to cellphones.

“The rollout of public alerting for ShakeAlert in the Pacific Northwest is a major milestone in the evolution of this critical system and has the potential to provide users with life-saving warnings seconds before they experience damaging shaking in future earthquakes,” said Gavin Hayes, USGS senior science advisor.

The ShakeAlert is made up of a network of sensors collecting and sharing real-time information about location, magnitude and expected severity from earthquakes on the west coast.

Partners in the program may set automatic protective actions like stopping trains to prevent derailments, and close water valves.

ShakeAlert technical partners in Washington, Oregon and California have used the system to trigger automatic actions to help public safety for more than two years.

The network is now 70 percent complete on the west coast, with a total of 1,132 seismic stations installed out of 1,675.


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