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Outreach strategy on Earthquake Early Warning system in PNW released today


(USGS Image shows how earthquake early warning systems work)


Maximilian Dixon, Earthquake Program Manager, Washington Emergency Management Division, (253) 512-7017 |

Althea Rizzo, Geologic Hazards Program Coordinator, Oregon Emergency Management , (503) 378-3936 |

Pascal Schuback, Executive Director, Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup, (206) 414-8799 |

Earthquake program managers from Washington and Oregon have finished work with hundreds of first responders and emergency management professionals in crafting a new strategy on how to effectively implement earthquake early warning systems when ShakeAlert, the U.S. system, eventually goes public in the Pacific Northwest. The strategy was crafted in coordination with the Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup.

The 45-page strategy is being released today and gives a path forward for state, tribal and local governments in Oregon and Washington to contribute to the successful implementation of ShakeAlert preparedness activities. The key will be to make sure first responders and emergency managers have the same understanding of ShakeAlert to talk about the systems in their communities. There also needs to be staff to support the implementation of the strategy and ensure all stakeholders are on the same page.

The ShakeAlert system detects earthquakes and rapidly disseminates warnings to end users in potentially affected areas. ShakeAlert is currently operating as a prototype in California, Oregon and Washington. Partners, like the University of Washington and the U.S. Geological Survey (UGSG), are exploring ways for the public to receive warnings in the future.

The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network at the University of Washington has been working for more than a year now with a beta test group to see how an Earthquake Early Warning system could be utilized for the private and public sector.

The vision calls for a fully developed and tested ShakeAlert system that detects earthquakes and disseminates warnings to end users with public alerts that integrate with organizational systems and processes, such as utilities that automatically shut off or doors to fire stations that lift up on their own. The ultimate goal is for a broad understanding and acceptance of ShakeAlert capabilities and limitations – and the funding to make it all happen.

Washington and Oregon based the goals, objectives and activities in the strategy on input from more than 100 state, tribal and local emergency managers. There was also input from more than 300 community members, including many who have had training as part of Community Emergency Response Teams. The federal government provided funding to develop the strategy.

“Oregon and Washington state, tribal, local and business partners have spent months collaborating on this strategy,” said Maximilian Dixon, earthquake program manager for the Washington’s Emergency Management Division. “It is our roadmap to reach stakeholders and to educate the public on actions to take when they get a ShakeAlert.”

Key strategy recommendations include having dedicated staff to coordinate training sessions with public safety and emergency management officials on earthquake early warning and partnering with existing preparedness efforts, such as the national ShakeOut drill, which is the third Thursday in October in both Oregon and Washington.

The strategy also calls for the development of specific earthquake early warning preparedness education and training materials to ensure the public understands the importance of drop, cover & hold on as a protective action when an earthquake occurs.  

As part of its recent budget bill, Congress allocated $22.9 million in funding last week for the continued development of the ShakeAlert system. However, to date, none of that funding is currently designated for state- or local-level education, training and outreach on ShakeAlert or earthquake early warning preparedness.

The strategy can be downloaded as a PDF from

Information on ShakeAlert is available at