California Wants Japan's Early-Warning Quake System

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    An early alert system, like the one used in Japan, can help save lives.

    An earthquake early-warning system credited with saving lives in Japan could be coming to California.

    Despite being prone to quakes, California lacks modern early-warning systems such as those employed in Mexico, Taiwan and Romania, according to the CC Times.

    Such systems provide up to a minute of warning before shock waves are felt. That's because earthquakes emit two types of waves: gentle, fast-moving waves that trigger the system, and slower, rockier waves that humans are more likely to feel.

    The primary obstacle to implementing a system in California is money. It's estimated that it would cost about $80 million, and would take five years to build.

    We're now likely to see a race against time to construct the warning system, since scientists predict that there's a high probability that a catastrophic earthquake will strike the Bay Area in the next two decades.

    Once complete, the warnings would be transmitted via mass communication channels such as text messages, online networks and whatever broadcast media take the place of radio and television in the next few years.

    Many cities already have rudimentary warning systems in place. San Franciscans can sign up for text message alerts whenever there are emergencies nearby, and residents are all-too-familiar with the outdoor warning system that tests itself with a loud siren every Tuesday.