PubTalk 1/2018 — ShakeAlert: Path to West Coast EQ Early Warning

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Title: ShakeAlert: The Path to West Coast Earthquake Early Warning ... how a few seconds can save lives and property

  • The ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system will begin limited operations this year.
  • Alerts could save lives and properties but several challenges remain.
  • With millions at risk, why isn't full public alerting happening yet?


Date Taken:

Length: 01:14:34

Location Taken: Menlo Park, CA, US


[ Silence ]

[ Silence ]

[background conversations]

Good evening, everyone.
Welcome to the evening lecture series.

My name is Robert de Groot.
I’m the national coordinator

for communication, education, and
outreach for the ShakeAlert program.

And it’s my great pleasure tonight
to introduce you do Doug Given.

And I’ll tell you
a little bit about him.

But one thing, before we get started,
I wanted to spend a second to remind

you about February’s evening lecture,
the USGS Cascades Volcano

Observatory talk that’s being given
on February 22nd, again at 7:00 p.m.

And there are fliers in the back.
The other piece I wanted to mention

as well is that there are
ShakeAlert handouts –

fact sheets in the back as well.
So please feel free to take one,

take two, take one home
to a friend, whatever you like.

But they’re available in the back,
and they’ll provide you with

more information about the
program that you can learn later on.

There’s also links to websites
and those sorts of things.

So I’d like to introduce Doug Given.
He is the USGS national

earthquake early warning coordinator.
And he coordinates USGS,

state organizations and universities,
and private companies to build the

ShakeAlert earthquake early warning
system for the West Coast of the U.S.

The ShakeAlert demonstration
system became operational

in California in 2012 and
in the Pacific Northwest in 2015.

In February 2016, the more
capable production prototype was

completed on a year – and a year later,
extended to the Pacific Northwest.

With this – with this version,
USGS began soliciting

real-world pilot

USGS has the goal of regionally limited
public notifcations in 2018 – this year.

A little bit of
background about Doug.

He joined the USGS in 1978, and he’s
on his 40th year, which is much longer.

I’ve only been with the USGS for about
two years, so he has a lot of years on me,

so I’m learning a lot
from him every single day.

He has pursued research into
the seismicity and tectonics of

southern California and
conducted field investigations

of several large earthquakes,
including Haiti in 2010.

He managed the Southern California
Seismic Network for 19 years.

Doug has been instrumental in the
development of several automated

earthquake processing systems and
was a prime architect of the

Advanced National Seismic System
Quake Management System.

Doug is also an adjunct professor of
geology at Pasadena City College.

He’s been doing
this since 1991.

He is a lifetime resident of southern
California and lives with his wife

in La Crescenta, two blocks
from the Sierra Madre Fault.

And that’s something we tend to
do in southern California. [laughter]

So, yeah, I spent 17 years living on the
hanging wall of the Hollywood Fault.

So we typically discuss this geography.

He is an elder in the Presbyterian
Church USA and enjoys hiking,

reading, guitar, and geneaology.
So I’d like to welcome Doug

tonight for a talk about ShakeAlert. 
Thank you very much.

- Thank you.
- Enjoy.

[ Applause ]

- Yeah, with that intro, it sounds
almost like you should be considering

whether to date me or not.

I like long walks on the beach and …

Well, I want to thank you all for
coming out this evening to hear about

this really exciting technology that the
USGS is bringing to bear to reduce

the impacts of earthquakes in the
West Coast of the United States.

My goal tonight is to describe
the current status of the system,

a little bit of the history of how we
got here, and a lot about the challenges

that this project has, and to describe
what you can expect in this year,

calling a limited public rollout.

And I’ll explain what that means and
what some of those limitations are.

I want to start, though, with this slide.
The far right side shows a lot of logos,

and that is there to emphasize
the fact that this is an extremely

collaborative project.
It’s not just USGS, but many other

organizations, including –
well, I’m not going to read them all

because it would take too long.
But university partners, state agencies,

and others are all working
together to realize this.

And we actually need more partners
to consume – not to consume –

to consummate the
finalization of this.

It’s our goal to do earthquake
early warning in the three states

of the West Coast – Washington,
Oregon, and California.

And this slide illustrates why
we’re concentrating on the

West Coast of the United States.
This is an estimate of the impacts

and losses due to earthquakes in the
United States on an annualized basis.

And so you can see, those numbers end
with B’s – billions of dollars of losses.

And, again, this is an annualized idea.
And so that means that,

when the big one does occur,
even though it’s infrequent,

the losses are
going to be huge.

And then, spread out over years, you can
see that there’s still $6 billion of losses.

Now, most of these losses have
to do with infrastructure –

buildings and roads and so forth.
And earthquake early warning is

not going to be able to mitigate
all of those losses, but it will mitigate

some of them and reduce the impact
and make our society more resilient

to bounce back from damage
caused by those earthquakes.

[beeping sounds]

I can’t – that’s not an earthquake.

The earthquake hazards program of the
U.S. has the mission of reducing death,

injury, and property
damage in earthquakes.

And to do that, we do a
number of different activities.

We assess the seismic risks long-term.
We conduct research into the risk.

And the underlying part, we provide
earthquake monitoring and notification.

That notification is the category
that ShakeAlert falls into.

And we also build
public awareness,

and ShakeAlert is going to be
instrumental in that as well.

The pictures on this slide are the
pre-event products – the things that

help managers and insurance industry
and others plan for earthquakes

by characterizing how bad the
risk is, where it is, and so forth.

So these are all pre-event,
pre-earthquake products.

Now, when an earthquake occurs,
there are a number of products

that are produced by USGS to
help with situational awareness for the

understanding of what just happened.
How do you allocate resources?

How many resources do
you need to bring to bear?

Should you activate mutual
aid agreements or not?

And so this continuum here,
you can see, starts on the left

when the earthquake occurs.
And then, moving to the right –

I’m going to skip over the red –
and we – traditionally, in the

seismic network monitoring that
we do, and have done for decades,

produce a location
and a magnitude to describe

what happened within
about a minute or two.

That’s all automated.
And, in a lot of ways,

earthquake early warning is
doing exactly that same job, but just

compressing the timeframe into a
few seconds instead of a few minutes.

And then, following the earthquake,
we can send out the information through

our event notification system, or ENS.
You can go on the website, sign up,

and get an email or a text message
for earthquakes in areas

that you are
concerned about.

That’s a free service, and it has
more than 400,000 subscribers.

We also do a quick characterization
of the impacts of the earthquake –

ShakeMap is a product that shows
the extent of ground shaking.

And then another of our
products is called PAGER.

And that does an
estimate of the dollar losses

and the fatalities resulting
from earthquakes worldwide.

So there are a number of products
that we provide, post-earthquake.

But the one that we’re
talking about tonight is ShakeAlert,

the earthquake
early warning system.

So the basics of
earthquake early warning.

The fundamental idea is,
it is not earthquake prediction.

We are not guessing where an
earthquake is about to occur.

Instead, we are detecting
an earthquake that has already

begun and doing that
very, very rapidly.

We have to figure out where the
earthquake is, how big the earthquake is,

and ultimately, what impact
it’s going to have.

What is the resulting
ground motion going to be?

How hard is it going to shake things?
Is it likely to do damage or not?

And we want to do that
in just a few seconds

and get that information out to
people who will be impacted.

If we can do it fast enough, we can
actually send warning information

before the shaking arrives. And that is
the essence of earthquake early warning.

Information can move at the speed of
light. Seismic waves, as you see here,

move at a couple of miles per second
through the rocks of the crust.

Now, when we think about who
can benefit from this information,

they fall into two broad categories.
First is people.

You are people.
And when you hear about

earthquake early warning,
most people’s reaction is, great,

how can I get it? When do I get it?
And how do I use it?

And there are many things that
people can do – drop, cover,

and hold on is the advice we currently
give when you feel an earthquake.

And it’s the same advice that we would
give you if you hear an earthquake early

warning alert. You just get a little extra
time to do that protective activity.

But there are other contexts
that you might find yourself in.

If you’re driving.

Might give you time to slow down
and pull over to the side of the road.

If you are in a work situation
with hazardous materials,

you might be able to protect
yourself from harm by

moving away from machinery or
chemicals or some other hazardous area.

And one that always resonates is,
if you’re on the operating table

[laughter], you would probably
want your doctor to know

that things are about to
move around. [laughter]

That’s the people part.
The other category is things.

Automatic processes – machinery, trains.
So you can slow and stop trains.

Here in the Bay Area,
you’re all familiar with BART.

BART has been slowing their
trains based on earthquake

early warning since 2012.
And so they were a very early adopter

because they saw the value of
slowing down their trains.

If a full train at rush hour,
going at full speed, were to derail,

it would be the largest mass
casualty incident in U.S. history.

So there are – it’s something
you want to prevent.

You can close valves.
You can stop factories.

You can do all sorts of things
in a automatic environment.

And so the options there are
actually endless, and there are

many things that we, I’m sure,
have not even conceived of that are

possible uses for earthquake early
warning in that automatic mode.

So why don’t we have
earthquake early warning?

No talk is complete without a meme,
so there is our meme.

I want it now.
From Willy Wonka.

I’d like to give it to you now, but there
are some limitations and some challenges

to why we cannot yet do early warning
for the masses – general public alerting.

And I’ll describe those. 
So those challenges include limitations

of resources – in other words, funding.
This project is not fully funded.

And that’s a real restriction
to our ability to complete the system

and get full-scale
alerts to everyone.

But, in addition to that,
we have some bureaucratic hurdles.

It’s difficult to hire
within the government.

And more importantly,
it’s difficult to get

environmental permits
to put in new stations.

So we’ve found that, as we try to
build out a large number of sensors,

we run into this problem,
and it increases the cost

of putting in stations, and it slows
down the process of putting in stations.

Much of the West Coast is controlled
by federal government agencies –

national parks, national forests,
BLM land – and those all require

environmental impact reports.
And the fact that we’re spending

federal dollars to do that work
means that we still have to

meet those environmental criteria,
even on private lands.

Because it’s a federally funded project.
And that, as I said, can be a challenge.

There are some physical challenges
due to just the physics of earthquakes.

And I’ll be describing those
in greater detail later.

And then the system itself. We have to
ensure that it’s reliable and accurate.

And doing so has its own challenges,
which I’ll also describe briefly.

And then a big challenge is just the
ability to get the alerts out to you all.

You may think that that’s easy.
You’ve got a cell phone.

You get messages all the time.
There is no current technology that can

do mass communication fast enough for
earthquake early warning to be effective.

And we are working on that, and
I’ll describe that in greater detail.

But the silver lining is,
despite all these challenges,

the USGS is dedicated to doing
limited public alerting this year.

The funding part –
way too much detail on this slide.

The lower right-hand box shows
our original estimate for what the

cost of completing the
early warning system would be.

This was a report that
we published in 2014.

And, at that time, we estimated that,
to build out the system for the

three states of the West Coast
would take another $38 million.

And then it would take
$16 million to run it every year.

You can see our funding profile in the
graph – in the table on the left-hand side.

This year, we are
funded at $10 million.

So it’s not even the
run-it-every-year number.

Certainly not even close to
the build-it-out number.

And so we are operating on a shoestring,
but making progress nevertheless.

Now, it’s not all
federal funding.

The state of California has recently
allocated $10 million for the project.

About two-thirds of that
is going to station build-out.

The remaining third is going to be
used for public education purposes.

State of Oregon has funded
some instrumentation.

The Gordon and Betty Moore
Foundation has given us $10 million

to advance the system.
And some federal funding that

passed through, first the state,
and then through the City of

Los Angeles, was another $5.6 million
for southern California build-out.

So there are other
sources of funding,

but we still have not been able to
complete the system with that available.

To make things just a little
more interesting, our original estimate

of the cost of doing it
is under review.

We are getting really close to
releasing revised numbers.

And guess what direction the
numbers are going to go? [laughter]

Yeah. They’re going up.
Not only because of inflation

and the fact that we missed some things
in the original estimate, but also because,

as I said, some of the things,
like putting stations in the ground

and getting environmental approvals
is more timely – or, more

time-consuming and more expensive
than we had originally thought.

Well, so here’s a slide
with lots of information.

Over on the right-hand side is the map
of the three states and an approximate

map of station locations where
some of them are already

located and where others
are anticipated to be located.

This gives you a kind of a big
view of what the system is like.

The yellow stars
are the alert centers,

located in Seattle, the Bay Area,
and southern California.

The ShakeAlert earthquake
early warning infrastructure

is layered on top of previously
existing seismic monitoring capabilities

funded by the USGS and partners,
sometimes, in the states.

And these seismic networks,
that have been in operation for years,

are jointly run by the USGS
and university partners.

So in southern California, it’s Caltech.
In the Bay Area, it’s Berkeley.

In the Pacific Northwest, University
of Oregon, University of Washington.

The path is in the center bottom.
We began seriously working on

ShakeAlert in 2006.
At that time, it was mostly research

on the science of
detecting earthquakes rapidly.

We went through a demonstration phase,
operationalized it, and turned it on

in a serious way in 2012.
At that time, we started to solicit

beta users that could see the signals,
but we asked them, please don’t take any

actions based on the alerts because the
system is not yet reliable enough.

In 2017 – that’s last year, in April,
we made a very important jump,

and we said, we now believe it’s
reliable enough that we are soliciting

pilot users – users that could
actually take actions and start to

develop mostly those
automatic types of processes.

Now, we’re not soliciting
for individuals to participate.

We’re looking for organizations
that will build capabilities and lead the

way within their particular industries.
And then, this year, we are

doing the limited public
rollout phase of the operation.

The central part of the slide shows
the five major components of an

earthquake early warning system.
Those five components, running from

left to right, are the sensor networks –
the field telemetry to bring those data

back into the central processing sites.
The box in the center is that central

processing, which includes
hardware infrastructure –

networking, computers, and so forth.
And then, the scientific software

that does the job of detecting the
earthquakes generating the alerts.

So you see, those are dark blue boxes,
and there’s an arrow below.

That’s the alert generation
section of the processing thread.

But the alerts don’t do any good
unless you send them to somebody.

And so the next thing you have to do
is distribute those alerts to the users,

whether they be industrial
users or individuals.

And then, of course, they have to
know what to do with them.

You would need some kind of
machinery in your factory

to automatically respond.
Or individuals need education

about what the system is and how to
use it when you hear an alert.

So the light blue boxes are
the alert delivery and use part.

The USGS does the
blue boxes – alert generation.

But the light boxes –
the distribution of the alerts

and the use of the alerts –
is outside of our capabilities.

We depend on companies,
on individuals, on end users,

to fulfill that need of the system
and that part of the system.

Quick look at the stations. You’ve
already seen a map similar to this one.

This shows the current distribution
of stations that are contributing.

Our plan called for 1,675 stations
to support the needs of this system.

The reason for that number is we
looked at the area of those three states,

and we did some research about
the optimal spacing for stations.

Turns out that the
optimal spacing is

about 20 kilometers apart,
which is about 12 miles.

Now, in the urban areas, where there
are lots of people and lots of risk,

we settled for a 10-kilometer spacing.
That’s to make sure that the alerts

were going to be fast, and we could
lose a few stations – because not all

equipment stays up all the time –
and still have that optimal spacing.

Outside of the urban areas,
but where there were still earthquake

sources and some people,
we used the 20-kilometer spacing.

And out in the boonies, where there
aren’t very many people or earthquake

sources, we used 40-kilometer spacing.
So when we mapped that all out,

we came up with that rather
strange number – 1,675.

We had some existing stations.
We’ve been upgrading stations.

We’ve been adding new stations.
So our current station count is 859.

Or at least the
last time I counted.

And we continue to
work on that number.

That means we’ve still
got about 800 more to go.

And even some of the stations
that are currently contributing

are not as fast as they could be
and need to be upgraded.

We’re also planning to add
a different kind of sensor –

not a seismic sensor that measures
ground velocity or ground acceleration,

but GPS stations –
high-rate GPS that can measure

displacements of the ground.
And those are extremely useful

for the biggest earthquakes –
for characterizing the really huge

earthquakes like the ones off
the Cascadia subduction zone,

off the Pacific Northwest coast,
or huge San Andreas events.

Our plans call for –
well, we actually have funding

for 250 additional stations
in the next year and a half.

And that will bring California
up to about a 74% completion

and the Pacific Northwest
would be about halfway there.

We knew that it was going to
be a heavy lift to get in all the stations,

and so we concentrated
on the urban areas.

And so the areas in the red circles
are near or at target density.

So major metropolitan areas –
L.A., the bay, and Seattle/Tacoma.

Well, this is a look at
the interior of the system.

This is a very complicated slide,
but the test will be based on this one.


I don’t expect you to see this.
This is sort of a shock-and-awe slide.

Just to show you that there’s
a lot of complicated stuff going on

and a lot of redundancy
built into the system.

Data flows from the
bottom toward the top.

The ground motion data feeds
into a variety of computers

at the various station – or, the various
network processing centers.

And you can see them
named across the bottom –

Pasadena, Menlo Park,
Berkeley, and Seattle.

They examine the waveforms –
the wiggles of the ground motions,

derive information from those –
what we call parameters.

When did it start to move?
How did it start to move?

What’s the frequency content
of that and other things like that?

And that data is shared
across all of the centers.

So that means every computer
in every center has access

to all the data for
the entire West Coast.

And that’s a redundant feature
so that we can lose any –

or, any center and still stay
up and generate our alerts.

Once an event is declared, that
information pops up to the top level.

And that’s the decision-making level
where alerts would be generated.

Those are in a secure
cybersecurity environment,

and they would have
public-facing servers.

In this case, “public-facing” means
the alerts are going to the end users,

but not individuals, but to distribution
mechanisms or to companies.

Well, let’s talk about
earthquake physics.

You’ve probably heard somewhere
in your academic career that

earthquakes generate
a variety of waves.

There are more than just
these two, but let’s talk about

P waves – primary waves –
and S waves – secondary waves.

When an earthquake occurs,
there is slip on a fault.

And that slip on
the fault causes elastic waves

to radiate out from
where that slip occurs.

And the P wave moves fastest,
but it’s fairly low in amplitude,

so it doesn’t do, frequently,
very much damage.

The following S wave is
where most of the damage occurs.

And there’s a seismogram in green
in the lower right-hand part of this slide.

And you can see the arrival of
the P wave, that happens first.

Time is going from left to right.
So the P wave arrives,

and then some time passes,
and then the S wave arrives later.

And you see the
S wave is much bigger.

The peak ground acceleration – PGA –
the heaviest shaking – may follow

behind the S wave, or it may be
at the same time as the S wave.

It depends on the
characteristics of the earthquake.

So that S-minus-P interval varies
according to your distance away from

the earthquake. The closer you are,
the smaller that interval will be.

When we measure how much time you
have before the strong shaking arrives,

we’re talking about
the arrival of the S wave.

And it may be that you
have a little bit more time

if the strongest shaking
actually lags a bit.

The block diagram of the mountain
is to show you that an earthquake

does not happen at the surface.
An earthquake happens at depth.

It starts at depth, and so the epicenter
is the place on the ground above

where it started, but the hypocenter
is the place at depth where the

fracture actually starts and then
starts to rip the fault like a zipper

from that point either upwards,
sideways, or both of those.

And then those waves
radiate out like the ripples

in a pond when
you throw a rock in.

Excuse me.

We also have to consider
the fact that there are

different kinds of earthquakes
in different tectonic situations.

So if you look at the picture on the right,
there are three red boxes – so these

are the three primary types of
earthquakes that we have to detect.

There are shallow
crustal earthquakes,

like the diagram we
showed in the last slide.

But in addition to those, if you are
in a subduction zone environment,

like the Cascadia subduction zone
in the Pacific Northwest,

you can also have subduction zone
earthquakes at the interface

between the North American
continent and an oceanic plate

that’s being shoved
down underneath the continent.

So slip on that interface
between those two tectonic plates

can cause the largest
earthquakes that we know of.

And in addition to that,
the oceanic plate that’s being

shoved back down into the
Earth’s asthenosphere will twist

and bend and crack and cause
very large earthquakes as well.

The two big earthquakes
that just happened in Mexico

were of that last type –
those deep slab earthquakes.

And if anybody remembers the
Nisqually earthquake in Seattle,

that was also a
deep slab earthquake.

Another thing that you need
to understand about earthquakes

is they don’t
happen at a point.

Epicenter, hypocenter – those are
just where the earthquake starts.

But large earthquakes
rupture long faults.

The bigger the earthquake is,
the longer the rupture is.

This diagram is a animation
running 12 times real time

of a hypothetical rupture
on the southern San Andreas Fault,

generating a
magnitude 7.8 earthquake.

So big earthquakes
are not points.

The magnitude of the earthquake
is proportional to the fault rupture.

That fault rupture takes time,
which means that,

when an earthquake happens, the
bigger it is, the longer it takes to happen.

And so it’s a challenge
to estimate its magnitude.

It’s not done until it’s done.
You don’t know what the

magnitude is until it has fully
developed and basically stopped.

So you can’t predict what the
rupture length is going to be.

So the system must map the
rupture in real time, as it occurs,

and continue to update the
estimate of magnitude, and therefore,

the estimate of effects, as the
earthquake continues to evolve.

And, in this particular scenario,
that earthquake takes

a minute and a half
to happen.

You also have to consider that
it’s not the distance to the epicenter

that will get you. It’s the distance
to where the fault is rupturing.

So, in this case, if we were worried
about L.A. – and I know this is

northern California, you’re not
worried about L.A. [laughter]

In fact, you’re hoping for this
earthquake to happen. [laughter]

But, in this scenario, if you try to
estimate the impacts by measuring

the distance to the epicenter, you’re
going to way underestimate the impacts.

Because that rupture is
headed toward L.A.,

and you have to measure
the distance to the fault.

Now, the detection of earthquakes is a
very touchy thing. It’s difficult to do.

And there’s a tradeoff
between speed and accuracy.

How much data are you going to wait
around for to get a better answer?

Well, it’s early warning.
We need to get answers out quickly.

So we need to use the
minimum amount of information

to make those alerts
as fast as possible.

And this illustrates some of
the challenges of doing that.

These are ground motion records coming
from real seismograms in the field.

The one in the center top
is just background noise.

There’s no earthquake in there.
The Earth is noisy. There’s traffic.

There’s water flowing.
There’s wind blowing through the trees.

There’s the waves
beating on the coastline.

There’s all sorts of sources of noise
that could fool algorithms – that is,

scientific ideas of
how to detect earthquakes.

They can fool them into thinking there’s
an earthquake when there really isn’t one.

That’s one of the
hardest parts and

why so much science goes into
the detection of these events.

Also, the instruments
themselves do weird things.

So, over on the right-hand side,
you see a calibration pulse.

That’s an instrument going through
a regular test and slamming its

weight against the stops,
causing a seismogram that looks,

at first blush, like a huge earthquake.
And so we have to control for that.

And the diagram in the
center bottom is a teleseism.

Teleseism is a
large distant earthquake.

So, for example, there was just
a magnitude 7.9 in Alaska.

Well, those waves swept across
our network from north to south.

And our system has trouble
discriminating between

teleseisms and
local earthquakes.

But the good news is, just today,
we propagated forward software

that has a new filter in it that
does an excellent job of

discriminating between
teleseisms and local earthquakes.

And it’s really going to reduce
that problem significantly.

Okay, so now it’s your turn to be
an earthquake early warning system.

Here’s the beginning of an earthquake in
seismograms at the bottom of the screen.

That’s what you get.
We trigger on the first four stations

in order to make sure it’s fast.
So that’s the information

you get to decide, is this noise,
or is this an earthquake?

And if it’s an earthquake,
where is it, and how big is it?

So now’s your time. Take your guess.
Earthquake or noise? [laughter]

This is the south Napa earthquake.

You can see the P waves kind of
going at a slant up and to the right

as you go upward, and then you can
see the S wave following behind.

And the fact that – these are ordered
by distance away from the event,

and so you can see that the
earthquake P wave and S wave

is getting farther and farther apart
as you get farther and farther away.

This is called
a record section.

Well, so how do we make sure
this stuff works and we don’t get

fooled by all this noise
and the teleseisms?

Well, we have a testing
and certification platform.

It’s a library of historic
earthquakes and historic noise.

So we’ve got more than

and we replay them every time we want
to test a change to the algorithms.

And we will not make
a change to any part of the system

unless that change runs through
this gauntlet of 40 real earthquakes

and 70 noise events,
including teleseisms.

And then we always test to say,
okay, is this change better or worse?

And if it’s worse, of course,
we don’t make the change.

Our ability to test, though, is limited 
because we do not have records

of the biggest earthquakes
that we’re trying to protect against.

We don’t have an example of a
real magnitude 7-1/2 in the bay.

We don’t have a real 9 off the
coast of the Pacific Northwest

to use in our test suite.
So that is one of the other limitations

of our ability to test how the system
will perform in the biggest earthquakes.

Well, once we figure out
that there’s an earthquake,

where it is, and how big it is,
we have to then predict the impacts.

How hard is it going
to shake, and where?

And to do this, we use ground
motion prediction equations.

But ground motion prediction
equations are approximations.

There are factors that change
how hard you’re going to shake.

Local site geology. The path of the waves
moving through the crust to get to you.

The characteristics of the earthquake
itself and whether it’s breaking towards

you or away from you,
or are you off to the side.

So there are a number of things
that go into variations in

how you are going to shake
for a particular earthquake.

This diagram shows the
reports of what people say

they felt in the
south Napa earthquake.

The distance is along the bottom,
and the intensity is the

scale going up the vertical.
The intensity here is modified

Mercalli intensity – MMI.
It’s a number that we use

for characterizing how
hard the shaking feels.

It’s not magnitude.
It’s a different kind of number.

And to try make sure
people understand that,

we use Roman numerals
to describe MMI intensity.

Intensity II is about the point
where you start to feel it.

And you start to get damage
at about V or so in intensity.

But that brace there, in red,
shows you the range of intensities

that were reported by
people 30 kilometers away

from the south
Napa earthquake.

And some people reported it as a II,
and some people reported it as a VI.

And so there’s a lot of variability
in the shaking by distance.

And so that’s another
limitation of what we can say

about what you’re
about to experience.

The diagram on the left is the
kind of information that would

come out of the early warning system.
Those eight-sided polygons

are the various intensity levels.
The outermost polygon is MMI II.

The next one is MMI III.
And so forth.

And so we can do a prediction
of the expected ground shaking,

but, as this slide illustrates,
that is going to be an approximation.

The system is going to
produce two basic products –

one for people
and one for things.

The alert to people, right now,
is going to be released if the

earthquake is in our reporting area –
the three states of the West Coast –

or maybe it’ll be restricted
to the metropolitan areas

because that’s where
we can do the best job.

[clears throat] Excuse me.
So if it’s in the region,

if the magnitude is greater than 4-1/2,
then we will report the polygon

of MMI II – that is the polygon in
which people should feel the earthquake.

And that would be
the basis for the alert area.

Anybody within that zone
would receive an alert.

And the little moving thing there
shows the evolution of

a hypothetical event and how
those MMI estimates would change

over time as the fault ruptures
further and the magnitude grows.

The other product is for
institutional users – those who are

more sophisticated, are going to do
their own calculation, their own estimate,

and their own decision
about what actions to take –

whether to stop the train,
whether to stop the factory process.

So that will have a lower release
threshold – probably magnitude 3-1/2.

And we’ll send them more information.
We’ll send them the location of the

earthquake, either as a line or a point.
We’ll send the magnitude.

And we’ll send the
whole suite of MMI contours.

And we can also
send them a map of –

a grid describing the
expected impacts as well.

Well, a little bit more about
the earthquake physics.

This one is little bit difficult to grasp,
but I’ll do my best to explain it to you.

The bottom line here is that the
warning time that you’re going to

get depends on the threshold
that you set for being notified.

So let’s imagine that
you had a factory.

And you want to protect
your factory from shaking.

And you know that your factory will
be damaged at an intensity level of V.

Okay? So you got that scenario?
I’ve got a factory.

I’m worried about intensity V because
I think that’ll damage my factory.

But I also need 10 seconds
to shut it down.

So you’ve got a
decision to make about

the right balance of time
and threshold for triggering.

Now, if you say, I’m going to be really
conservative, and I want to shut down –

make sure I have
time to shut down.

I am going to set my threshold
fairly low at MMI II.

So, in this picture, you can see that this
is the first alert from this earthquake,

and it comes out 5.2 seconds
after the earthquake began.

And it reports that the earthquake
has reached a magnitude of 5-1/2.

Now, in this hypothetical,
the red star is us.

We’re about

Do we shut down
our factory?

Well, I said we wanted
to be conservative.

Why would we do that?
Because the damage sustained

is going to be worse – much worse
than the cost of shutting down.

That’s a cost-benefit that
every sophisticated user

is going to have to
make for themselves.

What’s the outcome
of choosing a low threshold?

Middle bullet – low threshold
means you get more alert time,

but you’ll also get
more false alerts.

If this earthquake stops here and is
only a 5-1/2, you will shut down,

and you will not experience
the damaging shaking.

And that’s a tradeoff that you’re
going to have to think about and make.

If you set the threshold higher,
you will have fewer false alerts,

but you’ll also have less time.
Let’s look at some examples.

What if I set my threshold – instead
of an MMI II, what if I set it at III?

I’ll wait until there’s a little bit heavier
shaking estimated to reach my location.

Well, then I get 22 seconds –
I should back up – in the first one,

I get 25 seconds of warning.
This one, I’ve used 3 seconds, and the

earthquake has grown, and the expected
shaking at my location has gone up.

What if I picked MMI IV
as my trigger threshold?

Well, now I’ve only got 7 seconds –
or, 17 seconds to react.

But remember, I said I’d get damaged
at V, so what if I just wait until

the earthquake grows and the estimate
of the impact at my location

goes all the way up to V –
the thing I’m really worried about?

In that case …
[beeping sounds] [laughter]

He really wants to talk to me.

In that case,
we’ve lost our early warning.

Because it took too long for the
earthquake to grow to a point

where we’re certain that the shaking
is going to be heavy at our location.

So every sophisticated
or technical user is going to

have to make that kind of
cost-benefit decision.

Well, what about the people?
What are they going to get?

Everybody – since we’re
playing with cell phones here –

everybody expects to get
the alert on their cell phone.

And we have done the work to define
what a cell phone alert will look like.

It will have
a distinctive sound.

But that sounds is to be determined.
We had hoped to use the same

sound they use in Japan, and we asked
the Japanese if we could use that,

and they said,
mmmm, no.


They wanted to reserve
that sound just for their system.

We thought it would be
great to internationalize it.

They want to keep it
a Japanese sound.

Okay, so we’re back
to the drawing board.

But luckily, our partners in the
California Office of Emergency Services

are going to work on that problem.
They’re going to go with sound engineers

and social scientists to develop a sound
that will be distinctive for earthquake

early warning and will meet
all sorts of different criteria

for not being so annoying
that people shut it off

or not being so melodic that it
just sounds like another ring tone.

So the important part,
though, in that distinctive sound,

is it’s going to be the
basis for training people.

What we would really like is
a Pavlovian response to that sound,

that you just jump under your
desk without thinking about it.

And then, we don’t want people to
have to pull out their phone, wake it up,

read a message – by then, they’ve
consumed a lot of the warning time.

And so it will use voice to say,
earthquake, earthquake,

expect shaking soon. Drop, cover,
hold on. Protect yourself now.

So the social science tells us that – don’t
want to give you any fancy information.

Oh, there’s an earthquake 60 miles away
that’s going to give you MMI VII.

Yeah, that is not what you need.
You need clear instructions. [chuckles]

What to do.
You can worry about the details later.

So this is what an earthquake
early warning would look like.

And, not only would this
be what your phone did,

but it would be what would
appear on a television or in

a radio broadcast or on
a sign driving down the freeway.

Whatever the
modality of the alert is,

we want it to be consistent so that
people recognize it immediately.

Well, there’s a problem with this.
I’ve just described what a phone

would respond like, but the bad
news is, that can’t be done today.

The best way to send alerts through
cell phones is using IPAWS –

the Integrated Public
Alert and Warning System.

That is the government system used
for emergency alerts for weather,

for terrorist attacks, for Amber alerts.
So you’re probably familiar with that.

You’ve probably received
them on your cell phone.

The piece of it that actually sends it
to your cell phone is a different system

that’s inside the cell carriers’ systems.
And it’s called WEA –

Wireless Emergency Alert.
So IPAWS gets it and then passes it off

to WEA, and WEA is operated by
Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint.

So whichever carrier you have –
if you’ve got one of the

off-brand ones,
it still works.

That system was designed
for the things that I just described,

like Amber alerts and weather.
It was not designed for speed.

Earthquake early warning
needs to be really fast.

And WEA is not fast enough
for earthquake alerts.

So we’re working with the
cell carriers to remedy that situation,

but that solution
is a ways away.

Let’s take a look at
some of the limitations

of using a cell phone
for receiving alerts.

So obviously, we can’t reach everybody.

There are areas where cell phone
coverage is not available.

So those people
would be left out.

Well, what about sending text messages?
I get text messages all the time.

Too slow.
Doesn’t work.

Well, what about an app?
I’ve got the Twitter app.

I’ve got the Facebook app.
This thing’s tweeting at me all the time,

telling me stuff that I didn’t
even ask for sometimes.

So why not that?
Again, not fast enough.

Those technologies – if we tried
to notify a million people,

would take a long time. In fact,
we don’t even know exactly how long.

We can’t get that information.
I think it may not just be available,

and I’ll talk about that
a little bit more in a sec.

And then, the WEA system that
I just described is cell broadcast.

But, again, it is not currently
fast enough, but we are actively

working on making it faster.
We’re working with both FEMA directly

and with the organization that makes
standards for the cell carriers.

So we’re hopeful that it
can be fast enough someday,

but it is not
fast enough now.

So here’s a – kind of a complex,
busy grid showing the possible alert

technologies for mass alerting.
And I didn’t mention the internet.

You get a lot of information over the
internet, but the internet is very fragile.

In strong shaking,
it’s not likely to survive.

And so it may not be the best way
to try to send emergency alerts.

I’ve already described
IPAWS and the WEA system,

the fact that it’s too slow,
but we’re trying to speed it up.

In addition to WEA, IPAWS
will also distribute through EAS –

the Emergency Alert System –
to television and radio.

That’s even
slower than WEA.

So that’ll be a heavy lift
to make that work.

That organization of cell
carriers that I talked about,

we are working on implementing
a different technology in

the cell systems called ETWS –
the Earthquake and Tsunami

Warning System.
That’s what they use in Japan.

To get it operational
in the United States,

they estimate will take
three to seven years.

So that’ll happen, but,
as you can see, it’s a ways away.

Sorry – I talked about
push notifications already.

But there is another one coming
that’s very promising, and that is

using broadcast. Radio, television –
broadcasts are all over the place.

And it turns out that you can put
data into those broadcast streams.

And so the Cal OES – the California
Office of Emergency Services –

is prototyping putting
the ShakeAlert alerts

in the broadcast of
public television stations.

Now, you will not get the alert
if you’re watching the station.

It’s digital data
in the signal.

And so, the part that
we’re missing is a receiver.

You need a radio to receive that
digital data and turn it into an alert.

That’s, by the way, what happens in
your car radio when it says what the –

what the radio station you’re
listening to is or what the song name is,

that’s digital data inside
the radio stream.

But that, too, is going to
take a little bit of time to

completely develop, and you’ll
need a purpose-built receiver.

So back to the 2018 limited public
rollout. What can we expect?

On the project side, the alert
generation side, the part that

USGS has direct control over,
we’ll install additional stations.

We’ll continue to improve the software
of the system to make it more reliable.

We’ll build those
public-facing secure servers.

We’ll keep doing research and
development to speed it up.

And we’ll also develop
a plan for CEO –

Communication, Education,
and Outreach – so that people will

understand the system and know
what to do when they hear an alert.

On the public alerting side –
always remember that word “limited.”

We’ll do some experimental apps
in order to actually measure

how much an app will help.
At what point does an app saturate?

We know that, in the case of Japan,
they have an app that has,

they claim, 5 million users,
but they do not guarantee you will

receive the alert in a timely fashion.
If you want that, you have to pay extra.

[laughter] Okay?
And that limits the number of users

so that you can probably
deliver it to maybe

a few tens of thousands
of people fast through an app.

But beyond that, it probably slows down
to the point where it is not useful.

We’ll continue with our work
with FEMA and the cell carriers

to speed up IPAWS and WEA. But,
again, that’s probably a few years out.

And I’ve just described the
DataCasting model for getting that out

with the limitation that you would
need to buy a purpose-built device.

In addition to these,
we are doing some live pilots.

Now, this is a big list. I’m not going to
run down through the entire list.

But we are working with
a number of organizations

who are doing real,
live implementations.

Now, not all of these implementations
are guaranteed to be completed in 2018.

But they will ultimately be completed.
And they’re doing very interesting

things, like notifying children in
schools through a prototype in the

L.A. school district. And closing
water valves in the Pacific Northwest.

We’re working with
companies up there doing that.

And so there are a number of these
pilot projects that will come to market

in 2018, and others, probably,
in later years that will lead the way

in showing how the technology
can be used and how to do

those kinds of implementations.
And in fact, we expect to be creating

a brand-new earthquake early warning
industry that doesn’t currently exist.

In fact, one of these companies –
Earthquake – or, yeah,

Early Warning Labs is a start-up
specifically for using ShakeAlert data

and making products
to protect its clients.

And we hope that there will be many
other companies doing that sort of thing.

We do have to do some
education and outreach.

We’ve got a mechanism for doing that.
We have a multi-state committee that is

working on the public education part –
what materials to use and how to

message this for
greatest effective use.

And it actually also
includes British Columbia.

We’re talking to the Canadians
to coordinate our efforts

because they’re interested in developing
earthquake early warning as well.

So last slide.


Full-time alerting is limited –
or, full-scale alerting is limited

by several factors, as I’ve been
describing – funding to complete the

system and operate it is not yet in hand.
The sensor network is incomplete.

Mass notification technologies
that exist today are too slow.

And people need
to be educated.

But, despite all these limitations,
ShakeAlert will begin limited

public operations in 2018,
using those paths that work,

that are fast enough, and through
the pilots that I’ve described.

I think that’s it.

[ Applause ]

All right. We’re going to do a
opportunity for questions, but we do ask

that you either use the mic on the stand,
or it’s over there on that [inaudible].

Or Jim Straus, UC-Berkeley,
one of our partners, will come to you

with a mic if you raise your hand.
- And we would like to thank

some of the pilots who are
in the audience tonight.

For example, PG&E is in representation
here, so they’re helping to keep your

Bay Area safe in the case of earthquakes.
So, first question.

- In the case of Japan, can you give us,
as an example, in the Fukushima

earthquake, what was in place,
and what worked?

- The Japanese system has been
operational for the public since 2007.

In the Tohoku earthquake that
damaged the Fukushima reactor,

the system worked. 
It was an offshore event.

It – I’m not sure I’ll remember all of
these, but it believe it triggered

hit land where they had sensors.

An alert was issued, and thousands
of people were warned.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the Japanese system
only reports an epicenter and does

not account for the length
of the fault that I described.

And so that fault ruptured
southward in a magnitude 9.

And so they actually under-alerted.
They should have alerted the Tokyo area

because the rupture was moving in
that direction, but they did not do so.

So it was mostly a success,
but it had some limitations.

- One …
- They slowed down trains?

- Yes. Yeah, in fact, Japanese work on
early warning was first motivated by

the opening of the bullet train –
the Shinkansen.

That happened in 1990 – no, 1964,
when the Shinkansen opened.

And so the Shinkansen has always had
earthquake early warning built into it.

It’s gone through several iterations,
but the public warning system

followed much later, in part
motivated by the very devastating

Kobe earthquake
that killed 6,400 people.

- Okay, we have this
question up front.

- Well mass notification – why don’t
we think about putting loud sirens

on cell phone poles in populated areas?
Put enough of them around,

you wouldn’t have to worry about
opening your cell phone or

listening to the radio or TV.
You’d hear the warning signal.

- That’s correct.
And that’s what they do in Mexico City.

They have a network of over

But that siren system was not primarily
built for earthquake early warning.

It was built for crime
and other security measures.

So earthquake early warning
is just part of that.

It’s very
expensive to do so.

And we are exploring the use of sirens.
The city of San Francisco

has more than 100 sirens.
They’re too slow. [laughter] Yeah.

- Two things. One, I’ve seen a lot of
very compact seismic stations.

What’s the problem with the
environmental impact statements?

They do not seem like they’re facilities
that should really get bogged down in a

lot of problems with impact statements.
- Well, I agree with you.

- And secondly …
- Can I answer the first one,

then you can ask the second one?
- Sure.

- We are told, when we try to push back
against those requirements as well,

that if you put a hole in
the ground the size of a pencil,

you need this kind of impact report.
- Yeah, well, I mean, it – that –

in impact statements,
there are often very long

processes of comment
and things like that.

And this does not seem to be the
sort of projects that would trigger those

delays and lawsuits and all the other
stuff that tangles up impact statements.

They would look like
they’d be pretty pro forma.

- Well, I agree with you.
And we’re trying to get to that point.

Now, the impact studies we need
to do are not the same as you would

do for a housing development or a …
- Sure, yeah.

- … or a dam, but they’re still
onerous and can cost us

thousands of dollars
and months of work.

- The second is, how have Japan
and Chile managed to confront

some of these problems
like the speed of dissemination?

I mean, they’re working with much
the same cell phone technology and

broadband carriers and all the rest.
How is that they have skinned this cat?

- Well, I don’t think I would put
Chile on the list of active earthquake

early warning systems.
There are many countries that do –

Mexico, China now has one,
and, as you mentioned, Japan.

Korea is building one. There are portions
of India where they’re being built.

Italy, Romania, Turkey –
all building or have built systems.

In some cases, they’re not public.
The only country that I’m aware of

that has effective alerting
through cell phones is Japan.

And they implemented that ETWS –
Earthquake and Tsunami Warning

System – the system that we’re trying
to bring our system up to that spec,

but again, it would take three
to seven years to do so. Yeah.

- They’re using different cell
phone technology or …

- Yes.
- … what hurdle have they surmounted

that you have not surmounted?
- Well, it’s just a different way

of designing a cell phone system
and the behavior of all the physical

components and the protocols that
are used for sending alert messages.

I could go into excruciating
detail about how that works,

but it even bores me, so …

- Okay, another question from the back,
then we’ll take one at the front.

- Okay, thanks for a great presentation.
The question I have is, it seems that

your data is well-suited for
machine learning or deep learning.

- Mm-hmm.
- Have you guys – I’m sure you started,

you had your requirements
before it was very popular and

we had the computing power for it.
But have you been looking into that?

- There have been various papers in
seismological journals about that.

And there is some current activity.
In fact, there is a – I don’t know if

he’s a postdoc or a grad student
at Caltech who is going to take a look at

whether that will help us or not.
- Yeah, I guess the – having the speed

is probably one of the critical things.
- Yeah.

- And how long do the Amber alerts take
to get out, just so we have a ballpark?

- Well, that’s part of the
frustration is we’re not really sure.

The “we” being me.
I mean, I’ve been on phone calls

with the cell carriers for a year
and a half, and I’ve been

asking repeatedly,
how long does this stuff take?

And either they don’t want
to say or they don’t know.

And so that’s a bit of a challenge.
And in trying to get past that problem,

we are doing a test by developing an app
in the – I’m sorry, that’s the app thing.

We’re trying to figure out
how fast an app can go.

But in addition to trying to figure out
how fast WEA can go, we’re talking

with IPAWS about doing a
through-and-through test –

an experiment that would include
citizen scientists with their phones

that would measure when the
alert arrived so that we can directly

measure the speed of the system.
Now, we expect that it will

vary by carrier, vary by region.
But if I had to guess what the outcome

of that was going to be,
I would say it would say

it would be from
tens of seconds to minutes.

- Which would be too long.
Okay, thank you.

- And you may have been in a situation
where you were in a room when an

Amber alert was broadcast.
A lot of phones go off, but sometimes

phones go off a minute later.
Or two minutes later. Yeah.

- Okay, we have a question up front.
- Yes. Hi. Thank you for your lecture.

I just wanted some clarification
about the S wave and the P waves.

- Mm-hmm.
- Now, it looks, up there,

that they’re created some
distance from the epicenter.

The S is created first,
and then the P wave after?

- Okay, both waves are
generated simultaneously

at the rupture
of the fault.

This picture is a few seconds afterwards
when those waves have had some

time to start to move outward
from the earthquake rupture.

And so this is meant to illustrate
that the P wave is now getting out

ahead of the S wave. You know,
I don’t know what the scale

of this diagram is, so I can’t
put numbers on it, really.

But those two waves are
generated simultaneously.

- The same place at the same time.
- Yeah. Sometimes the analogy I use is,

imagine a race between a
Porsche and a Volkswagen Bug.

At the starting line, they’re dead even.

If they go, a block later, the Porsche
is out ahead of the Bug.

After two blocks, it’s farther out ahead.
After three blocks, it’s farther out ahead.

And so the gap between the two –
the faster and the slower –

grows as time passes.
- But the Bug is going

to cause more damage.
- But the Bug is going –

yeah, maybe I should make it
a truck or something like that.

- So maybe you can answer –
you mentioned PG&E is here,

so I was talking to – somebody was
telling me that PG&E actually has one

of the largest Wi-Fi systems in existence,
and that is through the network of smart

meters and that there was negotiations –
the person I was talking to was about

trying to get emergency services
access to that network.

Is that something that is part of this?
Do you know anything about it?

- I have heard something about that,
but I don’t know if I want to put

somebody on the spot or not.
Stu, you want to say anything?

- You want to be on the spot, Stu?
- I want to be on the spot. [laughter]

[inaudible] so, yes, PG&E – is this on?
- It’s on. You just have to talk closer.

- We do have an network
of smart meters and …

- [audience comments]
- More closer. Is that – there we go.

- Yes.
- So we do have a network

of smart meters.
Most of them have –

see them in your homes –
outside your homes.

And we’re constantly working on
developing those smart meters,

making them even smarter.
There’s going to be a new generation

where we’re putting accelerometers
in the meters so they will act like

miniature seismic stations
in everybody’s house.

So we’ll get even denser recordings
of strong ground motion,

and we’ll have a better idea of
the variations in ground motion in

communities around the Bay Area.
So that’s to achieve this vision that

we had many years ago –
what we called micro-zonation,

where we can really see how ground
motion varies with location in the area.

And we are an active partner with
the USGS in ShakeAlert and

earthquake early warning, and we’re,
you know, interested right now

in different ways to implement.
So we are one of the guinea pigs.

And right now, our primary
focus is going to be on life safety,

in terms of getting that
message out to our employees.

First job is to survive the earthquake,
so then we can get out and start to

do the restoration work
following the earthquake.

We’re investigating different ways to
push that message out and train people to

know what to do, as Doug was saying.
So it’s almost a Pavlovian response.

You hear the alarm, you duck and cover.
You don’t think about what to do next.

- Is that system currently a
two-way communication system?

Or is it one-way only?
- It’s one-way.

- Okay.
- It’s one-way.

But give us time. [laughter]
Give us time. Thank you.

- Thanks, Stu.

- Thanks, Stu.
- So recently, people in Hawaii

were falsely alerted that a nuclear
missile was about to hit them.

- You had to bring that up, huh?

- So how would you prevent that,
and how would you prevent

hackers from messing
with your system?

- Okay, so two parts for that question.
The first is, the error was human error.

Somebody poked the wrong button the
human console to generate that alert.

Our system
is fully automated.

That doesn’t mean it’s going to
be perfect. No system is.

So there can be false alerts for
many of the reasons that I’ve

already described, so don’t
expect the system to be perfect.

So we’ll do the best we can to reduce
false alerts, to keep them to a minimum,

but we can’t guarantee that the system
will not generate false alerts that then

pass through and through to end
users through the WEA system.

So every technology has a dark side
[chuckles] and a – and a positive side.

Your second – the second piece
of your question was about …

- Hackers.
- Hackers.

- Hackers, yes.
So we have instituted a lot of

cybersecurity controls on our system.
And in fact, we’re going through a

very excruciating process right now
to satisfy the federal government

requirements for cybersecurity.
There was a red box around

that alert layer in the slide
that I showed you.

That red box represents
that secure environment.

And, you know, messages are encrypted.
They’re secured, and we’re doing

everything we can to ensure
that the system can’t be hacked.

The – if you all want to go out to an
individual sensor and start jumping up

and down simultaneously [laughter],
we might get fooled. I don’t know.

You might want to give that a shot.

- Okay. I think we’ll
have one more question.

- Oh, I thought you
had one over there.

This occurred to me
as I was sitting over there.

In terms of training for using whatever
the system turns out to be, I have been,

just coincidentally, in the last couple
weeks, I’ve been in half a dozen

different meetings where the
first thing you do when you

go in the door is,
cell phone, off.

And I’m just wondering if that –
somewhere in the training process

is where that potential weakness
in the whole system might be covered.

- Mm-hmm. That’s an
interesting observation.

I can think of a few possibilities.
One is, that if buildings are wired

into the system, and through
PA systems, that would be

a second way to deliver the alert.
And by the way, in psychology,

people really do want to verify that an
alert is true before they take an action.

You’ve probably been in a room
where a fire alarm has gone off.

And what do people do?
Generally nothing.

They look around. Is there any smoke?
Are other people leaving?

I’m not going to
be the first one to go.

That’s a real barrier
to effective response to alerts.

And so, you know, if there’s a
building alert that goes off,

and your cell phone goes off,
that would be a verification

that might cause
people to react positively.

As far as the issue of shutting off
your cell phone, the battery dies –

there are many things that really can’t
be remedied in that kind of situation.

People will probably
be enabled to opt out.

There’s actually
some discussion about that.

And the behavior of the phone
is part of what’s being negotiated.

It could be that, even if you turn
your ringer off, for example,

a severe alert might
still activate your phone.

There’s always that balance
between privacy, annoyance,

and getting the alert to folks.
And so, you know, that’s actually

going to a discussion that will happen in
the FCC – the Federal Communications

Commission – about the behavior
of cell phones related to alerts.

- As the daughter of an
emergency manager,

I always leave
for the fire alarm.

I don’t know about the rest
of you all, but I always leave.

I think – did we have
one more question?

One more question?

- Many years ago, I managed
an exploratory research program

at the Electric Power
Research Institute.

And on behalf of our nuclear power
people who worry about stuff like this,

we gave a little bit of money to a
team that was – Berkeley, and I think

Stanford – Berkeley and somebody.
And they thought they had a glimmer

of an idea for earthquake prediction.
- Mm-hmm.

- Did that ever go anyplace?
- There have been lots of people

with glimmers of ideas about
earthquake prediction. [laughter]

And to my knowledge,
none of them have panned out.

And so I think I’ll leave it at that.
I’m in the skeptics camp.

I don’t think earthquake
prediction will ever be actionable.

- You mentioned the Mexico
system and that it’s siren-based.

Are they using any
other message delivery?

And didn’t – and are you coordinating
with the Mexican program at all?

- Yes. We talk to the
Mexicans frequently.

We sent a team down to evaluate
how the system performed and

how people responded after the
last couple of quakes that they had.

Their system is different
in many ways from ours.

In some ways,
their problem is easier.

Their system was originally built –
they went live in 1980 – no, 1992

as a response to the

And their system originally was,
the earthquakes we know are

going to happen off the coast.
And our population is in Mexico City.

So if we put sensors along the coast,
we can protect Mexico City.

That was a very simple and effective
use of earthquake early warning.

Since then, they have spread
southward into Oaxaca and have

a more general system. But our
problem is quite different from that.

Our problem is,
our earthquakes can happen anywhere,

and our people
are everywhere.

And so we have to build a system
that’s capable of solving that problem.

And so, for that reason, it’s different in 
many ways from the Mexican system.

- Okay, one last question,
and then we’ll …

- This is – this has to do with funding.
I thought the ShakeAlert wasn’t

getting any funding, but then
there was some California congressmen

that were supporting it.
What’s going on with –

Kevin McCarthy is in California,
and he’s a great Trump buddy.

Is there – are we –
what’s the status of support?

- Well, I’m not sure I
want to get into politics.

- No, you don’t have to.
I’ll do that. [laughter]

- I was looking for my slide
that shows the funding picture.

And I’m not sure I can find it
in this particular representation.

I think that’s it. Go.

Okay. So there it is.
And it’s not that

we don’t have any funding,
but it’s less than we need.

You can see that it started
out quite modest in 2013.

It’s grown, but we’ve now
plateaued at 10.5 per year.

And, again, that’s over
and against 38 million

originally estimated, and we
know that number is now bigger.

Plus, just to operate it every year, our
original estimate was 16, and we know

that number is really going to be bigger
once the system is fully built out.

So as far as the funding picture goes,
we’re sort of plateaued.

The city – or, the state of California
has put in that $10 million one-time.

They may make an additional request.
And they’re actually looking at

ways to fund the system in an
ongoing way. In fact, watch the news.

There will probably be
some news in February

about those activities
at the state level.

So, as I said, this project
is a partnership – is a collaborative

effort among many players.
So federal government,

state government,
may all help to fund this thing.

But we’re not there yet.

- [inaudible] the numbers,
it comes out to 37.6 million.

Is that – that’s not
per year, apparently.

- Which one are you looking at?
- [inaudible] million, the California 10,

there’s 1 million in Oregon,
and the 10 million from Moore,

and U.S., 5.6.
Add those all together,

you get 37 million.
- Yeah, but there’s much more

going on – much more being paid for
by those dollars, including the research

and the operational costs in those
multiple years across the – yeah.

- Okay, let’s thank our speaker.
Thank you, Doug.

[ Applause ]

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