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EQC test for a low cost earthquake warning system

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“At the moment, there is no earthquake early warning system in New Zealand,” said Raj Prasana of Massey University, the lead researcher on the project. “In this research project, we want to explore the feasibility of developing an earthquake early warning system using low-cost internet-based seismometers. The sensors will be installed in community-owned buildings to create appropriate warning solutions for community members.”

The research team recently met with residents of Lower Hut to find out their thoughts and concerns about the project.

“Ideally, the sensors hosted by the citizen seismologists will be configured as a network of sensors to test various detection algorithms,” Prasana said. “The data gathered from the community will help us explore the feasibility of generating alerts with these low-cost sensors.”

He added that although the warning may be in advance only 10 seconds, this will allow time for people to take safety measures “drop, cover and suspend.”

The project builds on previous EQC research conducted by Dr Julia Baker of the Joint Center for Disaster Research at Massey University. Becker’s study found that there is a strong interest among New Zealand residents, businesses and agencies in the earthquake early warning system.

The Prasanna team is currently testing several ready-made, low-cost sensors, and aims to have about 20-25 of these devices in the field by the middle of this year. According to the researchers, the sensors will be connected via an internet-based network. In the event of a strong earthquake that drops a portion of the network, the remaining sensors will automatically adapt and reconnect with those that have power.

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