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Robust Earthquake Early Warning at a Fraction of the Cost: ASTUTI Costa Rica

Brooks, Benjamin A. and Protti, Marino and Ericksen, Todd and Bunn, Julian and Vega, Floribeth and Cochran, Elizabeth S. and Duncan, Chris and Avery, Jon and Minson, Sarah E. and Chaves, Esteban and Baez, Juan Carlos and Foster, James and Glennie, Craig L. (2021) Robust Earthquake Early Warning at a Fraction of the Cost: ASTUTI Costa Rica. AGU Advances, 2 (3). Art. No. e2021AV000407. ISSN 2576-604X. doi:10.1029/2021av000407.

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We show that a fixed smartphone network can provide robust Earthquake Early Warning for at least two orders of magnitude less cost than scientific-grade networks. Our software and cloud-based data architecture that we have constructed for the Alerta Sismica Temprana Utilizando Teléfonos Inteligentes (ASTUTI; Earthquake Early Warning Utilizing Smartphones) network in Costa Rica is easily scaled and exported. Implementation comprises provisioning and installing modern smartphones in judicious locations. Stand-up time for regionally operational networks can be on the order of days. We evaluated a non-parametric ground-motion detection and alerting strategy that would alert the entire Costa Rican population of any event with a ground motion detection threshold of 0.55–0.65 %g at four neighboring stations. During a 6-month evaluation period ASTUTI detected and alerted on five of 13 earthquakes with M_w 4.8–5.3 that caused felt Modified Mercalli Intensity shaking levels of 4.3–6. The system did not produce any false alerts and the undetected events did not produce wide-spread or significant felt shaking. System latencies were less than or similar to scientific-grade latencies. Alerts for all five detected events would have reached the capital city, San Jose, before strong S-wave shaking. This would have afforded time for Drop Cover Hold On actions by most residents. Two of the five alerts were triggered by P-waves suggesting that smartphone-based networks could approach the fastest theoretical EEW performance, especially with future expected improvements in smartphone sensors and processing algorithms.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemData
Brooks, Benjamin A.0000-0001-7954-6281
Protti, Marino0000-0001-9818-0051
Bunn, Julian0000-0002-3798-298X
Cochran, Elizabeth S.0000-0003-2485-4484
Minson, Sarah E.0000-0001-5869-3477
Chaves, Esteban0000-0002-5724-1513
Baez, Juan Carlos0000-0002-7265-7402
Foster, James0000-0003-2052-5798
Glennie, Craig L.0000-0003-1570-0889
Additional Information:© 2021. The Authors. This article has been contributed to by US Government employees and their work is in the public domain in the USA. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made. Issue Online: 08 July 2021; Version of Record online: 08 July 2021; Manuscript accepted: 24 May 2021; Manuscript revised: 12 May 2021; Manuscript received: 09 February 2021. We gratefully acknowledge USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance for funding and especially Gari Mayberry for her oversight of this work since its inception. We thank Jeff McGuire, Annemarie Baltay, and Evelyn Roeloffs for earlier reviews of this manuscript and Chris Guillemot, Sarah McBride, David Wald, and Paul Earle for very interesting and helpful discussions. We thank the Associate Editor and 3 journal reviewers, in particular Dr. Gerardo Suarez, for their comments and suggestions which certainly improved the paper. The authors declare no conflicts of interest relevant to this study. Data Availability Statement: Data supporting the conclusions in this paper may be obtained at: Assembled data set number: 21-004; short name: ASTUTI.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
US Agency for International DevelopmentUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:earthquakes; warning; smartphones
Issue or Number:3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210720-222318687
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Brooks, B. A., Protti, M., Ericksen, T., Bunn, J., Vega, F., Cochran, E. S., et al. (2021). Robust earthquake early warning at a fraction of the cost: ASTUTI Costa Rica. AGU Advances, 2, e2021AV000407.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:109943
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:21 Jul 2021 16:16
Last Modified:21 Jul 2021 16:16

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