Early Alarm System for Earthquakes

Discuss about the Early Alarm System for Earthquakes.

Background: Earthquakes have been one of the most perilous natural disasters causing loss of lives and properties around the world. According to (NOAA, 2015), earthquakes have led to a death toll of around 7.5 million people till 2014. In the past, there have been several instances in different countries where earthquakes have destroyed the entire city. (BBC, 2015)

Problem: Unlike other natural hazards such as hurricane, prediction of earthquakes is still not very precise (Olson, 2014). In fact, very often, early detection of earthquakes and notification to people can save their lives (S.Stecay, 2015). This raises the need for alarming people instantly whenever an earthquake strikes. In this era of digitization, where almost every one carries their mobile phones with them, it would be beneficial if people get notifications of earthquakes instantly on their phones. Therefore, we propose earthquake detection and alarming system which is the ultimate need of the hour.

Solution: The proposed earthquake detection and alarming system is a technologically advanced version of other similar systems in the market. Other systems such as Quake Alarm do not have a remote connectivity and the way these systems alert people is using loud sound alarms. The proposed system will have 2 circuits – Detection circuit and Communication circuit. The detection circuit consists of piezo sensors which produce current when their orientation is altered. This current will be passed to an amplifier and the output of which will trigger the communication circuit. Multiple thresholds (Ignore, Mild and High) will also be placed to identify the magnitude of earthquake. If the threshold is below Ignore, no alarm will be placed otherwise the communication circuit will notify the user’s smart phone with “Mild” or “High” levels. A basic smart phone application will be developed for this system which must be installed on the user’s smart phone. (Nakamura, 1998)

Benefits: Multiple users can subscribe to a single system which makes the solution inexpensive and highly beneficial. The simplicity of the solution can be seen from the fact that the system needs to be placed at a stationary position while the users can be remote. The user only needs to install an app and gets notified instantly each time an earthquake hits the location where the device is placed. This cuts in the confusion people generally face during an earthquake and after getting alarmed, they can instantly move to a secure place.

Implementation: In order to implement the solution, we need to take care of the hardware and software solutions independently and finally integrate them. We would collaborate with ST Electronics to design the sensor based detection and communication circuit. In parallel, we would work with a software development firm to design a basic android/ios application for receiving earthquake notifications from the remote device

illustrating the working of the entire system

Figure 1: Diagram illustrating the working of the entire system.

Cost/Budget: A cost breakup for prototype development is presented below:

Piezo Sensor:                                                                           $ 5

Components for Detection Circuit:                                        $ 15

Components for communication circuit:                                 $ 20

Application Development:                                                      $ 80

Total Prototype Cost                                                               $ 120

Conclusion: Disasters like earthquakes are impossible to be avoided. Moreover, prediction of their occurrence is not very accurate. The only option is to be warned as soon as possible and to take necessary safety actions thereafter. The proposed solution makes use of modern technology to detect and communicate earthquakes using simple circuitry. It is interesting to see how a smart but an inexpensive solution can save a lot of people from losing lives during an earthquake.


NOAA, 2015. Earthquake Data and Information. Retrieved from https://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/hazard/earthqk.shtml

Nakamura, Y. (1988, August). On the urgent earthquake detection and alarm system (UrEDAS). In Proc. of the 9th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering (Vol. 7, pp. 673-678).

Earle, P. S., Bowden, D. C., & Guy, M. (2012). Twitter earthquake detection: earthquake monitoring in a social world. Annals of Geophysics, 54(6).

Nakamura, Y. (2004, August). UrEDAS, urgent earthquake detection and alarm system, now and future. In Proceedings of the 13th world conference on earthquake engineering.

BBC, 2015. History of deadly earthquakes. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-12717980

Olson, R.S., Podesta, B. and Nigg, J.M., 2014. The politics of earthquake prediction. Princeton University Press.

S.Stecay, 2015. Chile earthquake: how high-tech warning systems save lives. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/chile-earthquake-how-high-tech-warning-systems-save-lives-47693


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