Internet of Things provides affordable earthquake early warning to communities
By Robert Armitano
Earthquakes come without warning, making them one of the most feared natural disaster. Startups like Zizmos are working on early-warning systems using IoT (Internet of Things) sensors. Earthquake detection is provided by interconnecting multiple seismic sensors to a central server. The system works by detecting motion close to the earthquake epicenter and transmitting a warning alert to users further away from the epicenter. The system requires a large number of sensors to cover earthquake prone areas. Sensor costs have significantly decreased over the last decade through advances in smart phone and wearable technology, making an earthquake early-warning system affordable.
Zizmos is a startup that began as a research project at Stanford University funded by the National Science Foundation. Eight years of research went towards finding new technology to mitigate the effects of earthquakes in the world. This research culminated in a solution that uses the internet to connect thousands of earthquake sensors to a cloud-based server. Each sensor has an accelerometer that measures tremors and algorithms that detect earthquakes. When an earthquake is detected a signal is sent to a server in hundredths of a second. Sensor data is aggregated across the individual devices and processed by computational engines to determine where the earthquake epicenter is located and where damaging seismic waves are headed.