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Earthquake early-warning system gets $5 million from Congress

Staff writer |
Congress has approved $5 million for a West Coast earthquake early-warning system built by university and government scientists, money that will bring it closer to completion.

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Scientists were encouraged by a successful test of ShakeAlert in August during a magnitude-6.0 earthquake near Napa but noted that the project needed $80 million in equipment, software and other upgrades to make it reliable enough for public use.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, and Congressman Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, released a statement about the federal funding, saying West Coast states and businesses should also step up to pay for "this lifesaving project."

"We must get it done before the next major earthquake strikes," Feinstein said.

ShakeAlert, a collaboration between Cal, Caltech, the University of Washington and the U.S. Geological Survey, is still only available to a select test group. Other countries, including Mexico and Japan, have public early-warning systems.

Once completed, scientists say, ShakeAlert could stop elevators, control utilities and alert motorists of an impending natural disaster seconds or even up to a minute before it strikes.

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