Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

'Seismic alert!': Apps warn Mexicans of quakes
By Laurent THOMET
Mexico City (AFP) Sept 19, 2015

A powerful earthquake strikes off the Pacific coast of Mexico. Within seconds, radio transmissions, megaphones and smartphone apps blare warnings to the capital's 20 million people before the ground shakes.

After the loud "seismic alert!" alarm, Mexico City residents have as much as a minute to flee their homes, offices and schools before buildings start to sway.

But such technology was not available on September 19, 1985, when a massive 8.1-magnitude coastal quake rocked the metropolis, crushing buildings and killing thousands.

It can take more than a minute for the seismic waves to reach the capital hundreds of kilometers away. But once they arrive, buildings start moving back and forth because the soil below -- a former lake bed -- is soft.

When the country marks the 30th anniversary of the tragedy on Saturday, the early-warning systems will be switched on during a national drill.

For two decades, a civil association known by its initials CIRES has provided the city with a system that automatically interrupts radio broadcasts and triggers alarms inside buildings thanks to some 100 sensors placed along the western coast.

For the first time this year, the alarm will sound on 8,200 street megaphones.

- Phone alerts -

The surge of smartphone technology now gives Chilangos, as the capital's residents are known, the ability to receive warnings in the palm of their hands with apps such as SkyAlert and Alerta Sismica DF.

Within two seconds that a quake hits, SkyAlert's sensors send a broadband signal to phones, triggering a loud sound with a voice that repeats "seismic alert" and a message indicating the temblor's intensity.

Launched in 2013, the app has three million users.

"This type of system carries great responsibility," SkyAlert's 29-year-old founder, Alejandro Cantu, told AFP.

"Every morning I wake up and think I go to work with a commitment to my country and my people," said Cantu, whose company also sells devices for homes and offices that receive alerts via satellite.

SkyAlert split from the CIRES system last year after Cantu traveled to Japan and brought back the Asian country's sensor technology for his app.

In May, the company charged users 59 pesos ($3.5) a year to personalize their alerts, gaining 30,000 paid customers so far.

While SkyAlert quickly became a popular application, it jolted its customers in July 2014 when it issued a false alarm.

At the time, the app was still connected to CIRES, which Cantu blames for the error. But the civil association says it was SkyAlert's own doing.

Cantu said the risk of failure for SkyAlert is very small as the signal uses speedy data networks instead of phone lines. The city government failed at its own app experiment.

- US eyes Mexico example -

For CIRES's director general, Juan Manuel Espinosa Aranda, old-school radio signals are more reliable.

The veteran engineer showed a screen that monitors little green dots across the coast representing the sensors -- fenced-in areas with two antennas and a box containing the technology.

From a three-story house in Mexico City topped by an antenna, CIRES's servers await the dreaded warning, which is automatically relayed to alarm systems via radio signals.

CIRES was launched in the aftermath of the 1985 earthquake, as authorities sought to avoid another major tragedy.

US experts were traveling to Mexico this week to learn more about the capital's system as they develop something similar for America's quake-prone West Coast.

"When we talk to people about the importance of an early-warning system, we hold up the Mexican and Japanese systems as examples of functioning systems," said Jennifer Strauss, external relations officer at the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory in California.

Since its system was launched in 1993, CIRES has issued some 60 public alerts, sounding the alarm for strong earthquakes of 6.0 magnitude and higher.

In 2012, the city government-funded association designed a small radio that sells for $150 and has been distributed in schools. Bigger, more expensive speakers have been used since 1993.

But Espinosa warned that an alarm is not foolproof.

"If we get an alert at 3:00 am when everybody is deep asleep, the efficiency of the warning can be very questionable," he said.

"We can't get to this degree of perfection because it doesn't just depend on technology, it also depends on one's attitude in an earthquake."


Related Links
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
When the Earth Quakes
A world of storm and tempest

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Lessons from 2010 quake saved lives in Chile: experts
Santiago (AFP) Sept 19, 2015
Lessons learned from a devastating quake five years ago when Chile's authorities were accused of failing the population helped limit the toll from this week's powerful earthquake, experts say. Thirteen people were killed in the 8.3-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami that ravaged a stretch of Chile's northern coast on Wednesday night. The shoreline in Coquimbo, the worst-hit coastal c ... read more

NASA's LRO discovers Earth's pull is 'massaging' our moon

Moon's crust as fractured as can be

China aims to land Chang'e-4 probe on far side of moon

China Plans Lunar Rover For Far Side of Moon

Supervising two rovers from space

Team Continues to Operate Rover in RAM Mode

Ridley Scott's 'The Martian' takes off in Toronto

Mars Panorama from Curiosity Shows Petrified Sand Dunes

NASA, Harmonic Launch First Non-Commercial UHD Channel in NAmerica

Russian cosmonaut back after record 879 days in space

New Life for Old Buddy: Russia Tests Renewed Soyuz-MS Spacecraft

Opportunity found in lack of diversity in US tech sector

Long March-2D carrier rocket blasts off in NW China

Progress for Tiangong 2

China rocket parts hit villager's home: police, media

China's "sky eyes" help protect world heritage Angkor Wat

Andreas Mogensen lands after a busy mission on Space Station

ISS Crew Enjoy Kharcho Soup, Mare's Milk in Orbit

Slam dunk for Andreas in space controlling rover on ground

Russian ISS Crew's Next Spacewalk Planned for February 2016

Russia successfully launches satellite with Proton rocket

ILS announces one ILS Proton launch for HISPASAT in 2017

First Ever Launch Vehicle to Be Sent to Russia's New Spaceport in Siberia

US Navy to Launch Folding-Fin Ground Attack Rocket on Scientific Mission

Nearby Red Dwarfs Could Reveal Planet Secrets

Astronomers peer into the 'amniotic sac' of a planet-hosting star

Rocky planets may be habitable depending on their 'air conditioning system'

Earth observations show how nitrogen may be detected on exoplanets, aiding search for life

'Lab-on-a-Chip' to cut costs of sophisticated tests for diseases and disorders

First new cache-coherence mechanism in 30 years

One step closer to a new kind of computer

Researchers develop 'instruction manual' for futuristic metallic glass

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.