Helping you become better prepared

Earthquake Early Warnings
California | Oregon | Washington

About Early Warning Labs, LLC

Early Warning Labs, LLC (EWL) is an Earthquake Early Warning technology developer and integrator located in Santa Monica, CA. EWL is partnered with industry leading GIS provider ESRI, Inc. and is collaborating with the US Government and university partners.

EWL is investing millions of dollars over the next 36 months to complete the final integration and delivery of Earthquake Early Warning to individual consumers, government entities, and commercial users.

EWL’s mission is to improve, expand, and lower the costs of the existing earthquake early warning systems.

EWL is developing a robust cloud server environment to handle low-cost mass distribution of these warnings. In addition, Early Warning Labs is researching and developing automated response standards and systems that allow public and private users to take pre-defined automated actions to protect lives and assets.

EWL has an existing beta R&D test system installed at one of the largest studios in Southern California. The goal of this system is to stress test EWL’s hardware, software, and alert signals while improving latency and reliability.

Earthquake Early Warning Introduction

The United States Geological Survey (USGS), in collaboration with university and private industry partners, is developing an earthquake early warning system (EEW) for the United States. The mission of USGS Earthquake Hazards Program is to mitigate earthquake losses in the United States for citizens, emergency first responders, and engineers relying on USGS for accurate and timely information on where an earthquake occurred, ground shaking intensity in different locations, and what the likelihood is of future significant ground shaking.

A demonstration earthquake early warning system called ShakeAlert began sending test notifications to selected users in January 2012. While that system has demonstrated the feasibility of Earthquake Early Warning in California, the full system, from event detection to notification distribution, needs additional testing for robustness and reliability. In particular, robust and reliable notification pathways and automated early warning response actions are currently being developed by private industry partners for the earthquake early warning system. Additional funding is needed to complete the final research and development of the system.

Earthquake Early Warning Background

The objective of an earthquake early warning system is to rapidly detect the initiation of an earthquake, estimate the level of ground shaking intensity to be expected, and issue a warning before significant ground shaking starts. A network of seismic sensors detects the first energy to radiate from an earthquake, the P-wave energy, and the location and the magnitude of the earthquake is rapidly determined. Then, the anticipated ground shaking across the region to be affected is estimated. The system can provide warning before the S-wave arrives, which brings the strong shaking that usually causes most of the damage. Warnings will be distributed to local and state public emergency response officials, critical infrastructure, private businesses, and the public. EEW systems have been successfully implemented in Japan, Taiwan, Mexico, and other nations with varying degrees of sophistication and coverage.

Earthquake early warning can provide enough time to:

  1. Instruct students and employees to duck, cover, and hold
  2. Initiate mass notification procedures
  3. Open fire-house doors and notify local first responders
  4. Slow and stop trains and taxiing planes
  5. Install measures to prevent/limit additional cars from going on bridges, entering tunnels, and being on freeway overpasses before the shaking starts
  6. Move people away from dangerous machines or chemicals in work environments
  7. Shut down gas lines, water treatment plants, or nuclear reactors
  8. Automatically shut down and isolate industrial systems

However, earthquake warning notifications must be transmitted without requiring human review and response action must be automated, as the total warning times are short depending on geographic distance and varying soil densities from the epicenter.

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