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DISASTER EARLY WARNING NETWORK QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

 

1) WHY do I need early warnings?

Common sense and our experience shows early warnings save lives and property. 


In the past, warnings for natural disasters such as tornadoes, lightning storms, floods, tsunamis, or earthquakes, first came when a person saw looming danger in the nearby sky, watched water rise around them, or felt the ground move from under their feet.

 

For most of mankind’s history, this was the way natural disasters were detected. This method of detection gave very little time or opportunity for people to seek shelter and avoid death or injury. Unfortunately, for most people in today’s world, this is still the only means of detecting and reacting to the occurrence of natural disasters. Even modern "industrial" economies still have only rudimentary warning mechanisms for weather-related disasters and no reliable systems in place for warnings of seismic disasters to general populations. The general usage warning systems that are in place in the USA are the same civil defense sirens and broadcast warnings over local radio and television stations that were developed during the late 1950’s.

 

As individuals, our main strategies are to hope we are lucky enough to avoid disasters or, failing this, to mitigate the effects of the disasters by building stronger and safer structures for protection. Neither our hopes for luck nor our efforts to build stronger shelters have proved altogether successful.

 

Natural disasters occur at unpredictable times and in unpredictable ways and have led to a resigned acceptance of the results. Disasters are an accepted fact of life for all the peoples of the world they occur in all countries around the world with great regularity.

 

As population and housing densities increase, the world will continue to experience ever increasing danger and damages from natural disasters. Deaths, injuries, and loss of property will continue to increase around the world from the effects of natural disasters unless changes are made in the manner we respond to natural disasters. Most experts in natural disasters claim that the world’s population is at an ever-increasing risk of death, injury, and property damages from natural disasters.

 

2) WHAT are early warnings?

TECHNOLOGY IS NOW AVAILABLE. Over the last several decades scientists and engineers have made great strides in understanding the causative effects of these natural disasters that so impact lives. Much of the mystery surrounding these events is now gone. Although we cannot yet predict these disasters with any degree of confidence, we now have the technical ability to detect and track them with a great deal of accuracy.

 

Various sensor technologies are now available to detect almost all types of natural disasters as they first occur. The Disaster Warning Network will utilize distributed remote sensors working in real time to transmit their data to network computers equipped with neural net modeling and pattern analysis software to quickly determine the magnitude, direction, and speed of disasters as they move along the ground. The network computers will identify exactly which areas must be warned and which warning receivers are to receive the warnings.

 

As examples; the USA has in place a large-scale system of lightning detectors that can sense and record a wide variety of real time information about lightning strikes occurring over most of the country.

 

There is a national system of Doppler radar installations which were primarily designed for airline traffic safety but also are well able to detect, track, and record the exact movement, direction, and magnitude of tornadoes.

 

The USA also has in place a large system of ocean buoys and a satellite network that is able to detect even minor changes in ocean heights to track the movement of tsunami’s through the oceans of the earth.

 

A national system of rainfall gauges is able to measure real time rainfall amounts over large portions of the United States.
A significant number of seismographic devices are currently in place in seismically active portions of the country to detect in real time all earthquakes as they occur. The Disaster Warning Network intends to place many more in areas of seismic danger. 

 

Although the distribution and location of these devices needs to be greatly improved, the technology is now in place and we know it can provide the precious seconds of warning that will reduce deaths, injuries, and property damages during earthquakes.

 

All of these technologies are tested, currently available, and in place in various locations, to detect natural disasters as they occur in real time. Analog sensors and detectors have made the same tremendous advances in sophistication and sensitivity that we have seen in the digital arena during the last twenty years. Our ability to "see" the world and natural events around us has been greatly extended and enhanced with these new technologies. We now no longer need be restricted to viewing the nearby sky with our eyes to see the danger from weather events. We no longer have to wait for the ground under our feet to move to know that an earthquake has happened nearby.

 

3) WHEN will I be able to get early warnings?

AN EARLY WARNING PARADIGM SHIFT IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN.  Fundamental technological changes have occurred during the last twenty years. We have witnessed an amazing transformation in our technical ability to detect, analyze, and communicate information about natural disasters during the last two decades. We can now detect in real time a wide variety of natural disasters as they occur. Data from an array of analog sensor/detector technology sources is now immediately available. We now have the ability to digitize our physical surroundings.

 

In the digital world of ubiquitous super-fast computers, we have experienced a tremendous increase in our ability to instantaneously analyze the huge amounts of data that is available from these sensing sources in almost real time. This real time analysis allows immediate determination of the magnitude, direction, and speed of movement of all types of natural disasters. This type of analysis allows us to immediately determine when warnings should be issued, which areas are in danger, and which areas should be warned.

 

And finally, we have witnessed a correspondingly large increase in the capabilities of today’s modern communication technologies for virtually instantaneous transfer of this information from anywhere to anywhere in the world.

 

"We have the ability and the obligation to provide early warnings for disasters when we know these warnings are very effective in reducing deaths, injuries, and property damages."

 

4) WHAT do we know about the effectiveness of early warnings?

WHAT WE "KNOW" ABOUT NATURAL DISASTERS

  1. We know disasters cannot be predicted in advance of the actual occurrence.
  2. We know the technology exists to detect these natural disasters as they first occur.
  3. We know the technology exists to measure and record the magnitude, intensity, speed, and direction of these disasters in almost real time.
  4. We know a multitude of actions that can be taken to lessen and mitigate the damaging effects of natural disasters if we can provide effective advanced warnings.
  5. We know that we can save many more lives and greatly reduce injuries and property damages with a more effective system of advanced warnings for natural disasters.

5) HOW will early warnings be generated?

The Disaster Warning Network will utilize various sensor technologies now available to detect disasters in real time, and to transmit that data to network computers equipped with neural net modeling and pattern analysis software to quickly determine the magnitude, direction, and speed of disasters as they move along the ground. The network computers will identify exactly which areas must be warned and which warning receivers are to receive the warnings. The Disaster Warning Network will utilize a wide variety of common commercial and consumer electronic devices embedded with network receiver/controller chips to receive the warning signals and cause human or automated pre-programmed responses to mitigate the effects of the disasters.

 

Warning signals will be transmitted over a network of distributed transmitters and to exactly those selected areas and to exactly those selected users in actual danger from an existing disaster. Early warning instruction signals will also be sent to geographically appropriate rescue, fire, police, and ambulance personnel, to allow much quicker and more accurate first response efforts and further reduce disaster impacts on lives and property.

 

The warning signals will cause cell phones, pagers, televisions, radios, fire/smoke alarms, and any type of communication device to produce audible warning alarms. Warning signals will cause computer systems to inactivate, emergency generators and lighting to start, traffic lights to be controlled, fuel and gas lines to be shut off, emergency exits to be opened, and the initiation of many other types of automated protective responses to disasters.

 

6) WHERE will early warnings be received?

The Disaster Warning Network expects to be the global dominant supplier of early warnings for all types of natural and manmade disasters. To better understand how the Disaster Warning Network will function, a good analogy would be the various smoke and fire alarm systems in place today. (SEE "FUTURE") These systems are always and everywhere in our daily lives, but are not something that we consciously think about until they are needed and begin to perform their functions.

 

Today’s fire and smoke alarm systems operate automatically to detect the presence of smoke or fire when it is in the very early stages. When smoke or fire are detected, these systems operate to perform a wide variety of predetermined actions.

 

Some of the many examples include:

  1. Create a loud audible warning for all in danger to hear.
  2. Turn on sprinkler systems.
  3. Turn on emergency lighting and exit signs.
  4. Open emergency exits.
  5. Turn on public address systems to inform those in possible danger.
  6. Unlock and open fire-fighting equipment storage cabinets.
  7. Notification of 911 and local fire-fighting emergency response units.
  8. Shutdown of elevators and air-conditioning systems.

Some of these actions require a human response and others operate automatically without the need for human intervention. All actions occur because we understand that the possibility of fire cannot be eliminated, and we know that pre-planning, fast detection and early warnings can eliminate unnecessary loss of lives and property.

 

In the near future, this same analogy will hold true for all types of natural and manmade disasters. As in smoke and fire alarm systems, the Disaster Warning Network will be everywhere around us and always ready to trigger predetermined actions in a timely manner to save our lives and reduce damages to our property. The Disaster Warning Network will be an everyday fact of life for the average person. It will be ubiquitous, transparent, and below the level of normal awareness. The Disaster Warning Network will utilize a wide variety of sensing and detection technologies to determine the presence in real time of a disaster moving along the ground. The disasters that will be detected include tornadoes, earthquakes, lightning storms, floods, and tsunami.

 

The Disaster Warning Network will send early warning signals over a network of distributed transmitters and relay satellites to exactly those selected areas and to exactly those selected users in actual danger from an existing disaster. The early warning signals will be received by a wide variety of common commercial and consumer electronic devices embedded with network receiver/controller chips to receive the warning signals and cause human or automated pre-programmed responses to mitigate the effects of the disasters.

 

The beneficial social and economic effects of the early warnings will soon result in legislative and insurance mandates for widespread usage in the following types of locations:

  • Homes.
  • Schools, hospitals, and nursing homes.
  • Businesses, industries, and utilities.
  • Municipal and governmental infrastructure and public locations.

As in fire and smoke alarm systems today, a wide variety of actions will be initiated by the early warning signals from the Disaster Warning Network. A few of the many types of actions that will occur are shown below.

 

Audible warning alarms will be initiated

Some examples include:

  • Warnings will be received on cell phones, pagers, televisions, radios, computers, fire/smoke alarms, and any other type of common communication device. The audible warnings will advise the type of action necessary to minimize danger.
  • Warnings and instructions will be issued on public address systems.

Automated pre-programmed actions will be initiated

Some examples include:

  • Any type of audible warning device that is in an off position will be turned on and the volume turned up to receive audible early warnings during all types of disasters.
  • Gas, fuel, and utility lines to buildings will be controlled to prevent fires or explosions.
  • Emergency lighting and generators will be initiated to prevent panic and allow movement to lighted and opened exits.
  • Basement shelters in apartment buildings, and reinforced block shelters in mobile home parks will be opened to allow shelter during tornadoes and severe storms.
  • Computer networks, servers, and all electronic equipment will be controlled during earthquakes and lightning storms to prevent data losses and damaged equipment.
  • Elevators will be controlled to prevent danger to occupants.
  • Utility transmission infrastructure will be controlled to prevent natural gas flares, water losses, and transformer losses.
  • Transportation controls will be implemented to slow or stop traffic during an earthquake and to keep traffic off and from under bridges and overpasses during earthquakes.
  • Transportation controls will be implemented to speed emergency rescue efforts.

 

7) WHO will receive early warnings?

The human need for this early warning network is huge and growing. Almost every person and every public place on the planet faces some risk from natural disasters such as tornadoes, earthquakes, lightning storms, floods, or tsunamis. Everyone will benefit from effective early warnings for disasters.

 

The U.S. Federal government now estimates annual disaster losses averaging over 50 billion dollars in the USA alone, and estimates worldwide costs from disasters to be in excess of $400 billion annually.

 

These losses do not include the human tragedy and suffering caused by the loss of lives and injuries incurred during these disasters.

 

The Disaster Warning Network will have the capability to continuously alert the most geographically appropriate emergency response personnel such as rescue, fire, police, and ambulance personnel, to allow much quicker and more accurate first response efforts and further reduce disaster impacts on lives and property.

 

Early warning instruction signals will also be sent to appropriate emergency response personnel that will greatly enhance first response efforts during the occurrence of disasters. These network early warnings will often allow emergency response efforts to begin in an area before the disaster has occurred in that area.

 

A fully implemented Disaster Warning Network will allow pre-planning, fast detection, and early warnings for all types disasters. These early warnings will be directed to selected areas and through a ubiquitous variety of receivers, allowing an unlimited number of mitigation responses to protect lives and property.

 

SUMMARY

Natural and manmade disasters will continue to occur as long as nature and man are imperfect. The Disaster Warning Network does not prevent or predict these hazards. The network is designed to provide a maximum amount of early warning time to exactly those people and those areas that need to be warned in order to reduce the impact of disasters on lives and property.

 

The Disaster Warning Network will result in large savings of lives, injuries, and property damages during natural disasters and will greatly help to alleviate a major problem in modern society.   

 

Hazard Early Warning System

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