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Money Remains Largest Obstacle For California's Earthquake Early Warning System

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — California has been working on an earthquake early warning system for over a year and at San Francisco City Hall, there is one state senator who wants to know when instituting the program can begin.

State Senator Comes To San Francisco City Hall To Check On Progress For Earthquake

State Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) authored the bill last year calling for the earthquake early-warning system to be implemented statewide and called for the hearing in San Francisco to find out what progress has been made.

"There a sensors that would be deployed throughout the state of California, all giving these signals to a central computer that can then sense an earthquake as it's beginning and give people maybe tens of seconds—maybe 45 or 65 seconds—of warning," Padilla said.

Currently there are a few hundred sensors but the plan calls for 1,200 statewide and Padilla said the early system has a goal to be up and running in 2016. While the technology is readily available, the money to fund such a project is not.

"One of the caveats of last year's bill was to fund this system without the use of General Fund dollars," Padilla said. "To me that wasn't a big deal because there are other pots—there are special funds, federal grants and even private sector interests in a public-private partnership to fund this system."

A fully realized system will cost about $80 million.

Countries such as Japan, Mexico and China all have these types of systems. More than 50 million Japanese received early warnings via a smartphone app prior to the massive 9.0 Tohoku, Japan, quake in 2011.

Padilla's efforts come on the heels of the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

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