• EarthquakesCitizen seismologists enhance the impacts of earthquake studies

    From matchbook-sized sensors plugged into a desktop computer to location-tagged tweets, the earthquake data provided by “citizen seismologists” have grown in size and quality since 2000, according to the field’s researchers.

  • Tsunami early warningAll of Indonesia’s Tsunami early warning buoys were inoperable before 7.8 magnitude tremor

    At the time of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake which struck off the Indonesian coast on Wednesday night, all of Indonesia’s tsunami early warning buoys were inoperable. The shallow tremor 600 km off Sumatra island did not generate a tsunami, but the incident has raised questions about the effectiveness of the early warning system, which was deployed in the wake of the devastating 2004 tsunami.

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  • Tsunami early warningAll of Indonesia’s Tsunami early warning buoys were inoperable before 7.8 magnitude tremor

    At the time of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake which struck off the Indonesian coast on Wednesday night, all of Indonesia’s tsunami early warning buoys were inoperable. The shallow tremor 600 km off Sumatra island did not generate a tsunami, but the incident has raised questions about the effectiveness of the early warning system, which was deployed in the wake of the devastating 2004 tsunami.

  • Tsunani warningsGPS allows for better, faster tsunami warnings

    Existing GPS instruments at monitoring stations worldwide could be used to increase the speed and accuracy of tsunami warnings, according to a new study. Real-time Global Positioning System (GPS) measurements can be used to show how major earthquakes displace the ocean floor, cutting tsunami warning times by nearly twenty minutes and potentially reducing harm to coastal communities, according to researchers.

  • EarthquakesSmartphones app creates worldwide seismic network

    UC Berkeley scientists last week released a free Android app that taps a smartphone’s ability to record ground shaking from an earthquake, with the goal of creating a worldwide seismic detection network that could eventually warn users of impending jolts from nearby quakes. The app, called MyShake, is available from the Google Play Store and runs in the background with little power, so that a phone’s onboard accelerometers can record local shaking any time of the day or night.

  • EarthquakesDiscovery of “hidden earthquake” challenges tsunami early-warning systems

    Seismologists studying the 2011 Chile earthquake have discovered a previously undetected earthquake which took place seconds after the initial rupture. This newly discovered phenomena which they have called a “closely spaced doublet” presents a challenge to earthquake and tsunami early warning systems as it increases the risk of larger-than-expected tsunamis in the aftermath of a typical subduction earthquake.

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  • Earthquake warningWest Coast lawmakers ask Obama for $16.1 million to complete earthquake early warning system

    Last Wednesday thirty-six Members of Congress from western states urged President Barack Obama and the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to increase the funding level for earthquake hazards programs in their 2017 budget request — more specifically, to provide $16.1 million dollars in funding for an on-shore Earthquake Early Warning System (EEW) being developed by scientists in Southern California and along the West Coast. The lawmakers say that such an early warning system would be helpful in providing residents and first responders with advance notice that could help save lives, avoid injuries, and avert major infrastructure damage by slowing trains to prevent derailment, stopping elevators, pausing surgeries, and taking other actions in the event of a major earthquake.

  • Public alertsFEMA assessing over-the-air broadcast alerting technology

    FEMA’s National Continuity Programs’ Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Division (IPAWS) has begun to assess the feasibility of a public alert and warning capability which is being developed in the private sector. FEMA says that new technologies could deliver detailed emergency information to the public with pictures and videos of evacuation routes, storm tracks, and shelter information — increasing community preparedness before, during, and after a disaster.

  • CrimeAn app alerts people, law enforcement about potential crime risk

    You are walking home after a night out on a dark autumn evening. Suddenly, you get the feeling that someone is following you. You look over your shoulder, and see a shadow between the trees in the park. You quicken your steps. When you glance behind you again, you see the shadow disappear in between two houses. This is when you could press the “help” button on the app that you have downloaded. It sends a message to everyone in the area who also has the app, with information about your phone number and where you are. This way they are able to call you, alert emergency services, or get to your location if need be. The app has been developed by a group of student entrepreneurs.

  • Seismic early warningImproving West Coast earthquake early warning system

    UC Berkeley is among four universities to receive grants last week from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to help bring the planned ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system toward a production stage. Among other tasks, the partners also will continue development of scientific algorithms rapidly to detect potentially damaging earthquakes, more thoroughly test the system, and improve its performance.

  • Seismic early warning$4 million awarded to support earthquake early warning system in Pacific Northwest

    The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) last week has awarded approximately $4 million to four universities — California Institute of Technology, University of California, Berkeley, University of Washington, and University of Oregon — to support transitioning the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning (EEW) system toward a production stage. A functioning early warning system can give people a precious few seconds to stop what they are doing and take precautions before the severe shaking waves from an earthquake arrive.

  • Emergency alertsDisinformation campaigns damage credibility of social media emergency alerts

    Disinformation campaigns, which populate sections of social media platforms such as Twitter, are making real emergency data and notifications harder to absorb, a cybersecurity analyst argues. The spreading of emergency-related hoaxes, including those which involve conspiracy-related topics, damages the credibility of sites that provide useful information in those circumstances.

  • Flood warningTexas flood exposes serious weaknesses in high-tech warning systems

    The Memorial Day weekend flood in Texas was a test for regional flood warning systems employed by local and federal emergency agencies. Hays County officials issued three “reverse 911” notifications to residents residing in homes along the Blanco River. The National Weather Servicesent out flash flood warnings to registered local cellphones. Yet the disaster flood, which caused tens of millions of dollars in property damage in Blanco and Hays counties and killed more than a dozen people, exposed serious weaknesses in high-tech warning systems.

  • FloodingBetter flood-warning system

    On Memorial Day evening, Houston, Texas suffered massive flooding after getting nearly eleven inches of rain in twelve hours. Rice University civil engineering professor Philip Bedient is an expert on flooding and how communities can protect themselves from disaster. He directs the Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters Center (SSPEED) at Rice University. Bedient designed the Flood Alert System — now in its third version — which uses radar, rain gauges, cameras, and modeling to indicate whether Houston’s Brays Bayou is at risk of overflowing and flooding the Texas Medical Center. He says more places need those types of warning systems.

  • EarthquakesQuakeAlert app to be tested by USGS, CalTech

    Santa Monica, California-based Early Warning Labs says that a new technology it developed in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) can alert users before shaking strikes their location. The app, called QuakeAlert, will alert users with a countdown to when shaking will strike their exact location and tell the user how severe the intensity of the shaking is expected to be in their location. The app will be available for free once USGS approves the technology.