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Webinar on new ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning system set for April 29

A public webinar hosted by the Washington Emergency Management Division on April 29 will cover the different technologies that will help the U.S. Geological Survey ShakeAlert® Earthquake Early Warning system protect people once it goes live for public alerting on May 4.

The public will hear directly from companies that will show how their technology helps automatically close water valves to protect water supplies and lift fire station doors so first responders can get vehicles and equipment out, among many other capabilities.

The Washington Emergency Management Division, Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and private partners will also explain how people can receive alerts via mobile phones through the existing Wireless Emergency Alert system and how Android phone users will have the potential to get notifications through their phones’ own built-in software (which doesn’t require a specific app).

  • The webinar is scheduled for Thursday, April 29 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • Free webinar hosted on Microsoft Teams and no registration is needed.
  • Machine-generated captions available in English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Russian, Tagalog, Ukrainian and Vietnamese
  • If you have Facebook, use the reminder here: https://facebook.com/events/442402836821504
  • If you don't, you use this link for a reminder on your phone: http://bit.ly/WAShakeAlert

The webinar will be broadcast on TVW at this link. It will also be posted on our YouTube Channel. Subscribe to be notified when it’s up.

While most phones have their “Emergency Alerts” or “Public Safety” messages/alerts already turned on, please doublecheck your settings to make sure alerts are turned on. For more information on how, visit https://mil.wa.gov/alerts. This is available for all phones.

Wireless Emergency Alerts will be delivered to people who could feel light shaking or greater for earthquakes of magnitude 5.0 or greater. Find more information here.

Downloading an app isn’t necessary for the ShakeAlert® system and at this time, there are no downloadable ShakeAlert® public alerting apps in Washington state. Users should take caution before downloading apps they are unfamiliar with and check to make sure ShakeAlert® License to Operate Partners actually have products available in Washington state.

Google has notified our agency that when the system goes live on May 4, Android users will have an extra ability to get notifications through their phones without requiring a specific app. Users will receive Earthquake Alerts only if they have their device location setting on and Earthquake Alerts enabled in their location settings. You can learn more about the technology and how the settings work at this website.

Alerts are only effective if people know what to do to protect themselves when they receive the alert. Since the majority of earthquake-related injuries are caused by people getting hit by falling objects or falling down while moving during the shaking, seconds of warning will let people take protective action before shaking begins, reducing the chance of injuries. In most situations, drop, cover and hold on is the recommended way to protect yourself from earthquakes.

The Washington Emergency Management Division encourages residents to take steps to get their family prepared, especially after the launch of ShakeAlert®. The results from a recent survey conducted in February in King, Thurston and Pierce counties show that among those who participated in a test of the wireless emergency alert system, about 65 percent reported having some sort of family emergency plan and 86 percent of people reported that they have registered for their local emergency alerts to be notified about events like floods and wildfires. The results are from approximately 1,300 residents.

The webinar will include more information about preparedness. The companies that will be presenting on their ShakeAlert® related technology and services include Google, as well as the following:

ALERT FM delivers text-based emergency ShakeAlert®-powered alerts to dedicated FM receivers, working when the cell and power networks go out. The system is connected by satellite and delivers messages to residents, schools, hospitals, commercial and industrial facilities within five seconds of activation. ALERT FM is unique as it delivers alerts using the existing nationwide FM broadcasting network. Learn more at https://www.alertfm.com/shakealert.

SkyAlert offers a business to business service with a receiver device to broadcast audio, turn on emergency lights, open automated doors, turn off natural gas connections and other solutions seconds before an earthquake were to hit. Learn more at https://skyalertusa.com/.

Varius provides automated equipment that connects the earthquake early warning alert system to control computers, automated machines and processes. For instance, it can close a gas valve on a boiler or provide elevator overrides, so users aren’t trapped inside. Learn more at https://www.variusinc.com/shakealert.

Valcom’s system connects to existing legacy page systems and Valcom intercoms, speakers, LED signs and PC screen pops, giving folks critical time to take protective actions. The system also does machine to machine notifications and has the potential to open garage doors, valves and activate emergency lighting systems. Learn more at https://www.valcom.com/earthquake.

RH2: Since 2018, clients have been using RH2’s patent-pending Advanced Seismic Controller to provide a customized and secure connection to the ShakeAlert® signal. Client control systems are automated to take protective actions such as alerting staff, throttling valves and powering down equipment based on the shaking intensity predicted by the Advanced Seismic Controller. Learn more at https://www.rh2.com/risk-and-resilience.

Important Links

Check to make sure your alerts are set at mil.wa.gov/alerts

For more on how Earthquake Early Warning will work in Washington state, visit https://www.pnsn.org/pnsn-data-products/earthquake-early-warning

For more on ShakeAlert®, visit https://www.shakealert.org/

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Tuesday, April 27, 2021 - 9:53am

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