California's Earthquake Early Warning System is Successfully Shaping Up
According to an article in the October 12
®, California's earthquake early warning system, ShakeAlert®, recently completed yet another successful live testing. The U.S. Geological Survey, along with a group of State and university partners, is responsible for developing and testing the system in authentic environments such as with utilities, hospitals and schools. Once it is established that the mass notification networks can support these locations, work on public notifications - such as on smartphones - can begin.
ShakeAlert uses thousands of sensors, buried 10 feet deep into the ground along earthquake fault lines, to detect "P-waves," the fast-moving seismic waves that radiate from an earthquake. The system then builds a map of the most likely-to-be-affected areas and alerts are sent within a few seconds to a minute in advance of those first damaging waves. Even a few seconds of warning, the report notes, enables employees to move away from hazardous chemicals, to shut down industrial systems, or to take cover in a safe area.
In the most recently conducted test, Bay Area Transit System (BART) trains, using a pre-established protocol, were automatically slowed from 55 miles per hour to 27 miles per hour. In addition, BART drivers have the option of moving their trains to a safer location.
akeAlert in action: ShakeAlert provided San Francisco with an eight second warning of the 6.0 Napa earthquake in 2014.
Ultimately, having an earthquake early warning system will help entities such as fairgrounds implement their own emergency response plans - reducing injuries and property damage during and after an earthquake. (If your fairground is a CFSA pool program member and you need help developing the evacuation portion of your plan, please contact your fair's CFSA risk control specialist.) For more information about ShakeAlert's progress, please visit