Schools to receive earthquake-alert systems

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Sep 25, 2013 - Page 4

An earthquake-warning system is to be established at all elementary and high schools across the nation by November or December, the Central Weather Bureau’s Seismology Center said yesterday.

The seismology center made the announcement at the unveiling ceremony of the Eastern Taiwan Earthquake Research Center (ETEC) in Hualien yesterday.

Seismology Center Director Kuo Kai-wen (郭鍇紋) said the ETEC will produce warning system software that can send alert messages to a school as soon as 20 seconds after an earthquake occurs. The alert system is to encompass more than 3,000 schools.

As long as the schools are the linked to the system’s server via the Internet, they will be able to receive real-time data about the scale, location and depth of the latest quake in a matter of seconds, he said, adding that the software will automatically calculate the magnitude of the tremors in the area around each school.

“The computer linked to the system can also be programmed to set off a siren at the schools, but we suggest that an alarm only be sounded for earthquakes measuring higher than four on the Richeter Scale,” Kuo said.

However, he added that “thesystem has limitations, because it takes about 20 seconds to send out the alert, but the P-waves generated by a quake travel at about 5km per second, so areas about 100km away from the epicenter can be warned before the earthquake hits them, but places closer to the focal point of the quake cannot benefit as much from the warning,” Kuo said.

Therefore, the No. 1 priority in earthquake protection is still making buildings tremor-resistant, rather than relying wholly on the warning system, he added.