California to Develop Advance Quake Warning

     SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — Seeking to get a leg up on California’s next major temblor and “potentially save lives,” Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday approved a bill expediting the research and development of a statewide earthquake early warning system.
     The warning system will be designed to detect the first shock waves of a major earthquake and give train operators, industrial plants and utility companies notice to shut down their systems. Senate Bill 438 opens up state funding and calls on state officials to submit a business plan to lawmakers for the statewide system by early 2018.
     “We’ve seen the devastation earthquakes have caused in California,” Brown said in a statement. “This keeps us on track to build a statewide warning system that can potentially save lives.”
     The state’s current prototype is called ShakeAlert, a collaboration between federal, state and private developers. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates it will cost nearly $40 million to install the system on the West Coast and $16 million per year to operate it. Brown dedicated $10 million to ShakeAlert in his June 2016-2017 budget signing.
     Japan is the only country with a nationwide system. Similar programs are used in parts of Mexico, Turkey and China.
     Once implemented, ShakeAlert will have the capability to stop trains, close bridges and slow traffic by turning signals red, according to developers. Californians will be contacted through mass broadcast text messaging or smartphone apps.
     Sitting precariously on top of one of the world’s most dangerous and testy faults, San Andreas, the Golden State can’t afford to wait for the next big earthquake, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a statement.
     “By continuing to advance this life-saving system, we’re leveraging technology to better prepare and protect Californians throughout the state,” Padilla, who passed the first earthquake early warning bill in 2013, said.
     The measure creates the California Earthquake Early Warning Program and Advisory Board and lifts a financing restriction to allow lawmakers to use general fund money on ShakeAlert.

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