United States earthquake early warning system: how theory and analysis can save America before the big one happens
Jones, Lucile M.
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The United States is extremely vulnerable to catastrophic earthquakes. More than 143 million Americans may be threatened by damaging earthquakes in the next 50 years. This thesis argues that the United States is unprepared for the most catastrophic earthquakes the country faces today. Earthquake early warning systems are a major solution in practice to reduce economic risk, to protect property and the environment, and to save lives. Other countries have already built earthquake early warning systems, but only after they suffered devastating earthquakes. In the United States, ShakeAlert is the available solution, but it only operates on a test basis in California and still lacks sufficient capability and sustained funding to become operational. This thesis applies an input-output model of political systems theory to analyze how the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, which controls the development of ShakeAlert, functions in the United States. Using this model provides a framework for a discourse of the analysis to determine how the consequences of catastrophic earthquakes shape our decisions and policies for ShakeAlert. This thesis also examines what changes are required within our political system for ShakeAlert to launch as quickly as possible on a national scale and to allow for its sustained integration within the American preparedness culture. Perhaps most importantly, the implementation of ShakeAlert will help prepare the people, businesses, infrastructure, economies, and communities, hopefully before the next significant earthquake impacts the United States. Will the United States have to experience a devastating earthquake before implementing a solution that is recognized to save lives?
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