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Comparison of Mexico’s Earthquake Early-Warning Systems

We regularly run benchmark analysis of Grillo’s Earthquake Early-Warning system (EEW) against other systems in Mexico. This year we were pleased to find that our system has been performing very well and below we share the results.

The Mexican EEWs

SASMEX is created by a private company CIRES, and financed by the Mexican government since 1985. It uses seismograph sensors that cost more than $20,000 USD each including installation, and proprietary algorithms to detect earthquakes. The alerts are sent via a network of radio towers back to a handful of cities in Mexico. The SASMEX system relies on public financing and whilst it has limited coverage, it is considered to be the official alert of Mexico. It also generates revenue with its alarm devices that start at $2,000 USD.

 

Skyalert is a private company that has developed a sensor network using HomeSeismo sensors bought from Japan, costing several thousand USD each. When shaking is detected by a sensor, it transmits the local shaking intensity to the cloud, and push notifications are sent to the users for each separate shaking event. However, the user sometimes receives many messages depending on how many sensors reach a shaking threshold. This can be confusing for the users.

 

Grillo is a social enterprise with funding from USAID, AXA Foundation, the Chile government and Facebook. We have developed proprietary sensors and algorithms which are located in Mexico and Chile. This system is less than 1% the cost of SASMEX, and significantly cheaper than Skyalert. The Grillo detection system calculates what the shaking will be like for each end-user, and only alerts them if they will feel the shaking in their location.

Benchmarking the EEWs

Grillo, SASMEX and Skyalert all send real-time tweets when their network of sensors has detected an earthquake in Mexico. The twitter platform is built for low-latency mass messaging, which is ideal for EEW where large numbers of population need to receive alerts seconds or minutes before the shaking arrives to their location.

First to detect an earthquake from July 2018 – July 2019
Grillo 45%
SASMEX 40%
Redskyalert 13%
Number of Earthquakes Detected from July 2018 – July 2019
Grillo 247.
SASMEX 218.
Redskyalert 73.

To arrive at these scores, a year’s worth (July 2018 – July 2019) of tweets were taken from the following twitter accounts:

  • @redskyalert
  • @sasmex
  • @grillosismosmx

You can view the dataset here. To make a proper comparison, only the tweets that contain live alerts were used. Tweets that relate to post-earthquake or non-earthquake events were removed. The tweets for all EEWs were then grouped according to earthquake events. The first EEW to send an alert tweet was determined to be the fastest (labelled ‘Winner’ in the linked spreadsheet).

 

We also compared tweets from SASMEX with the timestamps posted in their website, and the difference was always under 1 second, which probably relates to latency involved in sending to Twitter servers.

Comparing EEW Accuracy

Our team, which includes seismologists and mathematicians, has created a robust detection system that is both fast and accurate. The detection algorithms are continuously improved as they are running in the cloud.

0.0001
0.0001
False alerts since 2017
Features

Grillo

Earthquake detection
Intensity alerts
Smart location alerts
Citywide coverage
Regional coverage
International coverage

Skyalert

Earthquake detection
Intensity alerts
Smart location alerts
Citywide coverage
Regional coverage
International coverage

SASMEX

Earthquake detection
Intensity alerts
Smart location alerts
Citywide coverage
Regional coverage
International coverage

Cost of EEW

By building sensors using the latest technologies, developing in-house our own detection system, and relying on low-cost cloud computing, Grillo’s network is significantly lower cost than the competition. This has allowed it to stay competitive with SASMEX and Skyalert who have far greater levels of funding from government and corporations.

Why Grillo Outperforms the Competition

Grillo has a world-class team of scientists and has spent years perfecting its patent-pending technology. SASMEX technology is still based on its initial concept created in the 1980s, and Skyalert relies on sensor equipment that was created by a supplier for the domestic market in Japan.

Grillo has detected hundreds of earthquakes which and also contributed sensor data to academia through its open-source initiative ‘OpenEEW’.

Our sensors leverage new Internet-of-Things technologies, and the development has been given assistance from our partners Particle, Arrow and others. We have also used the latest technologies from Amazon Web Services to create a scalable yet affordable cloud detection system that can work anywhere in the world.

EEW-as-a-Service

Earthquake Early-Warning systems (EEW) detect strong seismic activity and alert users nearby before they feel the shaking. This can save millions of lives as it allows people to take safety measures. It also can protect vulnerable industries by automatically stopping machinery, slowing trains, turning on generators, and more.

Creating and deploying an EEW however is not easy. Only two countries have achieved a national system, which can cost $1B usd and take decades to build.

By leveraging new IoT and cloud technologies, Grillo is able to offer clients its patent-pending full stack Earthquake Early-Warning system (EEW) that can be deployed in seismic regions around the world.

Who is this for

Governments,  humanitarian agencies, app developers, smart device manufacturers, vulnerable industries (manufacturing,
transportation, hospitality, energy, military, and more).

Technology Stack

Grillo’s EEW is comprised of 3 systems:

  1. A network of internet-connected sensors located near seismic zones
  2. A cloud-based detection system with low latency to the sensors and also the end users
  3. Applications or internet-connected devices that receive the alerts
How to get started

Get in touch to learn more. The first steps will be:

  1. A free report from Grillo’s seismology team that calculates the optimum number and location of sensors for your target alerting area. This will also show how much time the system would have provided for a historic earthquake in the area.
  2. Buying our sensors and installing them our specifications. This includes types of structures to fix it to, ambient human or other movement ‘noise’ that can interfere with our measurements, and selecting connectivity/power options.
  3. A provisioned deployment of cloud services for your EEW using Amazon Web Services. This will include services to process the sensor data and generate alerts where the shaking is above a predetermined threshold. It will also include access to a personalized dashboard where you can monitor the sensors and their status.
  4. An API that you can use to connect your applications or devices in real-time to the alert. If required, we work with an endpoint you provide.
How will it perform?

Grillo has benchmarked its EEW that has been running in Mexico since 2017. It regularly beats the Mexican SASMEX system in both speed and accuracy.

The time of alert that your users get will depend on various factors including the epicenter of the earthquake and proximity of your installed sensors.

When will it be up and running?

Once the sensors are in place, you will have access immediately to the dashboard and the API. We ask for at least 4 weeks however before you send alerts to users so that we can calibrate the detection system. Our sensors are able to detect shaking from earthquakes 100s of kms away so we should have data to use for calibration rapidly. However if not shaking is detected we may ask to extend the calibration period.

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