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'Shake Alert' Early Earthquake Warning System Could Be Rolled Out Soon

PASADENA (CBSLA) — Scientists could soon be rolling out an earthquake early warning system that has the potential to save lives when mere seconds count.

The Shake Alert system has been tested with some agencies, like schools and L.A. Metro, and the developers say they're ready to share the technology with more businesses and local governments. The system can alert from seconds up to a minute before an earthquake, as well as warn about aftershocks.

It's about  "getting the alerts into schools, into factory settings, to slow and stop trains, to protect water systems, those are happening today, and we're looking for more and more partners to increase the number of applications," USGS Early Warning Coordinator Doug Given said at Wednesday press conference at Cal Tech.

Scientists and lawmakers said they've already installed about half of the 400 sensors needed along the West Coast. They've secured $45 million in government funding, and they expect to offer the system to the general public soon.

However, it's about more than the threat of physical harm or damage to property, said seismologist Lucy Jones, PhD. "The psychology of knowing oh this one's gonna be small is gonna help people cope with it in a way that goes beyond any of the physical losses, and that's as important as anything else," Jones said.

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