Although Earthquakes do not come around very often, on the West Coast they pose a more significant danger to people and property than elsewhere in the United States, and due to the risks associated with them cannot be ignored by state and federal governments.
Seismic Warning Systems, Inc. of Scotts Valley, CA was awarded a government contract for $250,000 to install the first regional earthquake warning system in the United States. The new system is able to detect potentially dangerous earthquakes and provide advance notification to local authorities, helping to protect schools, hospitals, and fire stations.
The 7.2 magnitude Baja California Earthquake in 2010 motivated Imperial County to pursue a type of warning system with the goal of keeping essential service providers safe and alert. This system may be just the beginning for advanced earthquake detection in the state of California and the west coast in general. Moving forward, new initiatives will provide many opportunities for local and state businesses to participate and respond to RFPs by using individual bid services.
Other areas of California are in need of infrastructure upgrades to more advanced warning systems, and ideally should relocate seismic observation stations to help improve warning times. Some areas of California, including south of San Francisco Bay to north Los Angeles, are currently underserved by the existing warning system, and should consider publishing new RFPs to attract municipal and county bids.
Since a new appropriations bill was signed in September 2013, California has become the first state to get an earthquake early warning system, which will cost about $80 million to build. However, California isn’t the only state at risk; Oregon and Washington have been identified as being at risk of a massive earthquake originating from the Cascadia subduction zone. Extending the system to include California, Washington and Oregon could end up costing over $120 million, with the majority of government contracts for construction and maintenance likely being awarded to businesses submitting bids for specific city or county projects. California’s Office of Emergency Services must lock in funding by January of 2016 in order to be able to complete the system installation and have it functioning within a few years. A significant amount of the funding will be spent on modern earthquake sensors (seismometers) to detect and report seismic activity. Software to operate the warning system will also be needed, and may ultimately require the creation and distribution of state RFPs which may be bid upon by tech-savvy companies located on the west coast. Specialty contractors selling earthquake detection software and hardware should keep an eye out for RFPs relevant to the west coast of the United States over the next decade. Installation and maintenance of these systems will also provide opportunities for additional business development and other government contracts on the west coast, as funding is granted and disbursed.
Having an Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) system will provide advance notification of potential emergency situations, giving communities and governments time to shut down businesses and move employees to safe locations, students to designated safe areas, medical personnel time to delay medical procedures, and helping to ensure the safety of citizens traveling by car, plane and train. Early warning notifications also prompt emergency responders to turn on generators and to open automatic doors and fire escapes when necessary. The amount of time given to warn citizens will depend on the location of the earth quake and its proximity to surrounding regions.
California’s Earthquake Early Warning system represents just one the vital services that individual contractors and companies provide to local and state governments through their participation in the municipal and county bid process.