Early warning, no matter when it is applied, can sound comforting for all of us. Being able to prevent possible catastrophes in a short time has never been this easy as it is nowadays, thanks to the ever developing technology.
Early warning systems were proved to be vital in case of earthquakes. As soon as an earthquake hits, the system provides warnings of vigorous shaking. The system offers accurate and real-time information; therefore, users are always ready to act before the most vigorous shaking arrives.
Further on, we will explore the advantages of early warning systems, their crucial importance during earthquakes, the way these systems work, and if the population can use them regularly.
SkyAlert is one of the few early warning systems across the United States, offering a complete solution palette for the community, organizations or companies in states like Washington, California, and Oregon.
Fundamentals of Early Warning Systems
What is an earthquake early warning system? It is rapid detection of earthquakes, giving an early warning that shaking is coming. The alerts last from seconds to minutes, notifying people that an earthquake shake is approaching. The system can tell the intensity of the earthquake and how long it takes until the shakings start.
To sum up, the further you are away from the epicentre, the longer the warning time is. Another important thing that every person should know about early warnings when it comes to earthquakes is that they are not prediction tools. Every shock modifies and changes from one second to the other, so the data that EEWS provides is not always precise or 100% accurate.
The early warning system relies on a computer algorithm that interprets the waves created by the earthquake. There are two types of torrents monitored in the process: the fast-moving compressional wave and the transverse wave, that is slower but causes the actual damage. The sensors of the alert centres rapidly detect the first type of waves, after which they can mark the seismic centre, the intensity, and other data. The information is continuously updated, so after the early detection, people get notifications about the earthquake via computer or phone so they can start acting accordingly.
The advantages of early warning are crucial for people all around the world, institutions, and corporations as well. By receiving notifications about the shakes that will follow, people have time to find safe spots to retreat, like desks or tables that protect them from falling items like ceiling lights, counters or bookshelves. Companies can protect their staff, and they can reduce damage by shutting down in advance their control systems or machines.
On average, more than 50% of earthquake injuries happen after falls and non-structural hazards. Early warning systems can significantly lower these stats and play a role in people’s earthquake education. For example, in the San Francisco Bay Area, the rail system uses an early warning tool, so if an earthquake occurs, trains will automatically slow down.
The Social Factor
Early warning is a key social factor in this kind of situations. The overall panic created by an earthquake can be stopped by reassuring the population that not every small shake or bump is a potential danger and that most noticeable earthquakes are not damaging.
Lastly, early warning data provides a fast, reliable basis for all alert centres, offering information about surface geology and seismic waves. By using this data, prognostications will be more accurate, and the transmissions and algorithms are going to be faster.
However, the early warning system still requires public outreach efforts, making people aware of it, and teaching them how to use this system and how to implement it. In the United States of America, the USGS is thoroughly conducting tests and algorithm developments to make these systems more accessible to people.
The only disadvantage of early warnings are the false alarms that can occur. Missed alerts are typically signals coming from an area close to the earthquake’s epicentre; therefore can only last a few seconds making it harder for people to notice it. People located nearby the epicentre have around 15 to 20 seconds to evacuate or retreat to safe spots.
False alarms can occur because of two reasons: changing data of the earthquake or human error. Alert centres are usually notifying the public after the very first signs of a shock. But from those signals to the very first shake, things can change a lot; magnitude can vary, intensity can increase or decrease, and that can cause false alarms depending on people’s location.
Human errors are also a factor even if they don’t happen often. In countries with high-performance early warning systems like Japan or Mexico, this kind of mistakes only happened once, without causing significant issues.
The Public Attitude on Early Warning
Having the cons of early warning listed, we can still affirm that the benefits of this system counterbalance the disadvantages. There is a general acceptance of false or missed alarms by the community, people stating that early warning makes them feel safer and more ready to act in front of an earthquake. While the system is still under development, raising public awareness is a principal concern. For example, in the San Francisco Bay Area, the rail system uses an early warning tool, so if an earthquake occurs, trains will automatically slow down. Most people, when asked about their earthquake knowledge, only know about the magnitude but can not appreciate the differences on a Richter scale. Therefore, in case of emergency people will not know how to react or when is it safe to evacuate or search for hiding, so early warning systems are vital during an earthquake.
Promoting evacuation drills and workshops related to earthquake-proofing can go hand in hand with early warning, making a big difference in case of future emergencies. In the United States, early warning systems are still under development and available in only some states. However, the community is generally positive about it, realizing that early warning can save lives and significantly reduce damages for families, institutions, and companies.
SkyAlert offers early warning solutions for the public or organizations such as companies or corporations. With an award-winning design and customized plans for businesses, SkyAlert will prepare you and allow you to take measures in front of an earthquake. For example, SkyAlert Epicenter can pause factory production, close gas valves, and fixtures or open emergency doors. The company offers drill management, maintenance, and Earthquake reports as well. Everything made with a reliable internet connection and an uninterruptible power supply.
The SkyAlert Early Warning System consists of three parts: the cloud, or the Critical Warning Platform, the Epicenter Receiver, and the SkyAlert Mobile App, which will soon be available in states like Washington, Los Angeles, and Oregon. When an earthquake occurs, the SkyAlert Warning Platform receives data from the USGS and uses the location of the receiver and the application to calculate the intensity of the shaking and how much time is left before the first shake will hit. The warning is in the form of an audio signal that lets the user know about the intensity of the earthquake and the time that’s left.
Founded in 2011, SkyAlert currently protects 400 companies and 1.2 million users in collaboration with the United States Geological Survey. With the award-winning technology and reliable sources, SkyAlert can be the first pick for any company looking for advanced early warning in case of an earthquake.
To check out the SkyAlert USA solutions or to request a demo, contact us now.