Commission Grantee PEER

California Earthquake Early Warning System (EEWS) Benefit Study

California is a seismically active state, and over the course of the State’s history, the loss of life and property due to earthquakes has been significant. Although there is much one can do to prepare for a quake, until recently there was little one could do to anticipate an earthquake and better prepare to respond in the initial seconds of the event.

Since 2013, Cal OES has been leading a public-private partnership to develop a statewide EEWS with support from the Seismic Safety Commission and other State and Federal agencies. In 2015 the Commission and Cal OES contracted with the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER) to undertake a study of the benefits of the EEWS. This comprehensive report, the result of six months of interviews and detailed analysis, identifies the benefits of the EEWS and the key issues for implementation and successful operations, as well as a review of EEWS technology and systems deployed around the world.

A key finding was that “organizations unanimously perceived the overall societal benefits from having a statewide EEWS as very high. A few seconds to tens of seconds of advance warning time could help thousands, possibly millions, of people to take precautionary actions and Drop, Cover, and Hold On (DCHO) before strong shaking begins.” But the benefits go beyond public safety to the protection of critical infrastructures, such as power and transportation; enhanced safety for higher-risk industries such as refining and chemicals; and, especially, personal safety for those in high-risk occupations.

The research based and objective report is short and easy to read and comprehensive enough to answer almost any question one might have about EEWS in California. It is an important report and one that robustly supports the deployment of the EEWS and provides detailed guidelines to help insure its success.