Last week’s earthquake off the coast of Japan brought to mind the devastating earthquake and tsunami that slammed into the island nation in 2011. While this earthquake caused relatively little serious damage, and thus becomes just one of many earthquakes to hit Japan over the year, there is one point that is particularly noteworthy: residents were warned a full six minutes before the earth shook.
As recently reported by NPR, “The warning for Friday’s quake was issued six minutes before it struck” This is a warning time that any emergency manager would envy. Even a warning of a couple minutes allows the public to take shelter from falling debris, but a warning of six minutes would likely give people a chance to leave buildings, and perhaps make their way toward higher ground.
As previously reported in AWARE, Japan, as well as Mexico, have dedicated systems that are specifically designed to alert citizens via mobile devices of earthquakes. These mobile communication channels, combined with increased warning time that undersea seismic sensor make possible, can be seen as a model for the combination of technologies to produce more than the sum of their parts.