The U.S. Geological Survey awarded approximately $4 million this week to four universities – California Institute of Technology, University of California, Berkeley, University of Washington and University of Oregon – to support transitioning the “ShakeAlert” earthquake early warning system toward a production stage. USGS also provided an additional $1 million to purchase new earthquake early warning sensor equipment. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), who helped secure the funding in both FY 2015 and 2016 for a west coast earthquake early warning system, commented:
“I’m delighted to see that the USGS has moved forward with implementation of the early earthquake warning system. It is critical that the West Coast implement an earthquake early warning system that will give us a heads up before the ‘big one’ hits, so we can save lives and protect infrastructure. We are constantly reminded of our vulnerability—with tremors, earthquakes, and aftershocks rattling our homes and business—and even a few seconds of warning will allow people to seek cover, slow or stop trains, pause surgeries, and more. Congress has made clear the importance of the system and our continued commitment. But the federal government cannot, and will not, fund this system alone. It’s time for our West Coast state governments and local partners to do their part with matching funding for this invaluable system.”
A limited system developed by Caltech, UC-Berkeley, the University of Washington, and the University of Oregon in conjunction with the United States Geological Survey (USGS), has already been deployed and has proven that the early warning technology is sound. It will cost an estimated $38.2 million to build out a full system for the west coast, with annual operating and maintenance costs of $16.1 million.