• Combining News Media and AI to Rapidly Identify Flooded Buildings

    Artificial intelligence (AI) has sped up the process of detecting flooded buildings immediately after a large-scale flood, allowing emergency personnel to direct their efforts efficiently. Now, researchers have created a machine learning (ML) model that uses news media photos to identify flooded buildings accurately within 24 hours of the disaster.

  • Study of Redoubt and Other Volcanoes Improves Unrest Detection

    Volcanologists do what they can to provide the public enough warning about impending eruptions, but volcanoes are notoriously unpredictable. Alerts are sometimes given with little time for people to react. That may soon change.

  • Earthquake Early Warning in Oregon and Washington

    Starting 11 March 2021, ShakeAlert-powered earthquake early warning alerts will be available for delivery directly to wireless devices in Oregon. In May 2021, Washington state will follow suit and complete the ShakeAlert public alerting rollout across the entire West Coast. California enabled ShakeAlert-powered alerts in October 2019.

  • Tsunamis and Tsunami Warning: Recent Progress and Future Prospects

    Tsunamis are one of the most destructive disasters in the ocean. Large tsunamis are mostly generated by earthquakes, and they can propagate across the ocean without significantly losing energy. During the shoaling process in coastal areas, the wave amplitude increases dramatically, causing severe life loss and property damage. A recent paper reviews the recent research progress on earthquake-generated tsunamis, from the aspects of tsunami generation, propagation, inversion and warning.

  • Developing First Responder Emergency Alerts Technology

    As emergency communications technologies adapt to an increasingly interconnected nation, DHS S&T announced it awarded more than $1.5 million to develop an Alerts, Warnings, and Notifications (AWN) Guidance Tool.

  • Brazil: Apps Warn Residents of Shootings

    Every year there are thousands of shooting incidents on Brazil’s streets in which innocent bystanders are injured or killed. In some cities, apps now give real-time warnings to residents about areas to avoid. This year alone, there have been at least 3,000 shootings in the state of Rio de Janeiro. But this statistic does not come from the authorities. The number is taken from data supplied by “Onde Tem Tiroteio” (OTT), a crowdsourcing app that warns users about shootouts and where users can report shooting incidents themselves. In English, “Onde Tem Tiroteio” literally means “Where is a shootout.”

  • Why the U.K.’s Terrorism Threat Level Has Been Raised and What Happens Now

    Most parts of the UK are now living in a state of some form of lockdown. Meanwhile, however, more police are out on the streets. This is because in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Austria and France, the UK’s terrorism threat level has been raised to “severe.”

  • Action-Led Alerts Effective in Natural Disasters

    Is an “evacuate now” text message more likely to initiate action by the receiver than “you will be impacted by a flood” in a natural disaster emergency such as bushfire and flood? “Words are powerful during natural hazard emergencies and it is important to use words and phrases that are understood to avoid panic, message desensitization, and guide safe risk assessment and response.”

  • U.K. Government’s Tiered COVID-19 Alert Systems Are All Flawed, Warns Disaster Expert

    Alert systems need to be clear and easy for everyone to understand. Yet, to date, the UK’s national alert system has created confusion and been largely ignored. Now, a second local alert level system has been introduced in England. I’m not convinced it will do any better.

  • Seismic Background Noise Drastically Reduced Due to COVID-19 Lockdown Measures

    Global COVID-19 “lockdown” measures - the quarantines, physical isolation, travel restrictions and widespread closures of services and industry that countries around the world have implemented in 2020 - resulted in a months-long reduction in global seismic noise by up to 50 percent, representing the longest and most prominent global seismic noise reduction in recorded history.

  • Coming Soon? A Brief Guide to Twenty-First-Century Megadisasters

    When it comes to calamities, Jeffrey Schlegelmilch thinks big. In his upcoming book, Rethinking Readiness: A Brief Guide to Twenty-First-Century Megadisasters, he explores menaces that potentially could change not just lives or communities, but entire societies. He groups these into five categories: climate change; cyber threats; nuclear war; failures of critical infrastructure such as electric grids; and biological perils including pandemics. Schlegelmilch answered questions about megadisasters in light of recent events.

  • Flood Bot: New Flood Warning Sensors

    Ellicott City, Maryland, suffered devastating floods in 2016 and 2018. The disasters left residents and officials wondering how technology could help predict future severe weather, and save lives and property. Scientists offer an answer: The Flood Bot network.

  • A Step Closer to Being Able to Forecast Earthquakes

    Scientists identify specific conditions that cause tectonic plates to slowly creep underneath one another rather than generate potentially catastrophic earthquakes. This could potentially contribute to solving one of the greatest challenges that faces seismologists, which is to be able to forecast earthquakes with enough precision to save lives and reduce the economic damage that is caused.

  • Separating Industrial Noise from Natural Seismic Signals

    For the first time, seismologists can characterize signals as a result of some industrial human activity on a continent-wide scale using cloud computing. A transformative, cloud-computing approach to analyzing data helps researchers better understand seismic activity.

  • Mount St. Helens’ 1980 Eruption Changed Volcanology

    If scientists armed with today’s monitoring tools and knowledge could step back in time to the two months before 18 May 1980, they would have been able to better forecast the forthcoming devastating eruption.