An ongoing project for conceptualising a community-engaged network of low-cost sensors for earthquake early warning in Aotearoa New Zealand

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Tan, Marion
Prasanna, Raj
Becker, Julia
Holden, Caroline
Waidyanatha, Nuwan
Puchihewa, Amal
Jeong, Seokho
Stock, Kristin
Brown, Anna
Kenney, Christine

Earthquake-prone countries are exploring earthquake early warning (EEW) systems as a risk mitigation measure. However, establishing a comprehensive EEW system would require a substantial financial investment, and for many countries, such systems are not economically viable. For Aotearoa New Zealand, with a population of just under five million people, appropriating significant financial investments towards development of an EEW system cost-effectively is likely to be challenging. This research project, launched in February 2020, explores the feasibility of a socio-technical EEW solution for Aotearoa New Zealand. An EEW system may be viable through interconnecting low-cost sensors and recorders through existing communication infrastructures. The project explores the possibility of utilising emerging internet-of-things (IoT) technologies such as micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) embedded sensors. The sensors may have lower sensitivity and coarse recording systems. Hence, to operationalise this approach it may require a denser network of sensors to achieve an acceptable level of reliability and also rely on the participation and acceptance of engaged citizens. The project seeks to answer the research question: Is it feasible to form an EEW system through a community-engaged network of low-cost sensors? The project is conducting two initial concurrent phases to explore the social and technical challenges and opportunities: • Phase-1: Community-of-practice development and engagement with various communities to scope the challenges and opportunities of establishing an EEW system. • Phase-2: Explore and examine the opportunities, capabilities, challenges and limitations of developing an earthquake early warning system and applications driven by a network of off-the-shelf MEMS devices and IoT infrastructure. This poster shows the project’s progress-to-date on these two phases. The poster also outlines planned activities and expected outputs.

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