We have become comfortable with the idea of earthquake early warning for the last 14 years. Yet in that time the funding has not been provided to put an early warning system in schools and fire stations throughout the Coachella Valley.
On Tuesday an announcement was made that $5 million is being provided by the Federal government to USGS for earthquake early warning. On the surface this is exciting news, but dig a little deeper and you find that three different plans and many agencies continue to work on systems that should have been in place in the Coachella Valley years ago.
The USGS has a plan for a system that covers the West Coast, Cal OES has a plan for California and of course there is the regional CREWS plan.
Christina Curry of Cal OES explains that while they are working with the USGS… “We are building a system for California, USGS has their own considerations for the West Coast, we have a timeline in California to pull this together.”
George Dickson of Seismic Warning Systems says the USGS is not nearly as close as we are locally.
“First of all USGS does not have a system, so let’s be clear on that. They have a prototype that has had false positives, that does have a blind zone and issues, so that prototype would not work in California, I don’t care if they had $100 million funding.”
Christina Curry of Cal OES says that USGS is just one partner for the state and that the goal for California is to unify the different efforts.
“What California is working to do is to not have these isolated efforts, is to roll in the USGS portion of it for what we need, check that off, but also look at what private industry has developed.”
Seismic Warning Systems agrees and says that cooperation is necessary to make this happen.
“It is critical that we protect California, its operations, its assets, its limited resources and that we protect obviously its people and the future of America, its children.”
Hearing about early warning for so many years begs the question, will a system be put into place before it is too late?
Christina Curry weighs in… “We are acting very aggressively, I agree with you it shouldn’t be something that we wait for any longer, but you also can appreciate the complications of developing something this big in California and we are acting as fast as we can but we want to act and do it correctly.”
Secretary of State Elect Alex Padilla hopes so, he spear headed the legislation that passed imposing a deadline to fund early warning by January of 2016.
“I don’t want to be here after the next big one asking ourselves why we didn’t deploy this technology, we know it works, we know it saves lives, we need to build it up as quickly as possible.”
George Dickson says a big announcement is coming at the beginning of the year.
“Seismic is not waiting for anyone anymore… We are going to launch our privately owned network that will be available eventually to the public.”