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Earthquakes are not rare events. On a yearly basis, 70 to 75 damaging earthquakes occur throughout the world.
Imagine… A 6.5 quake is imminent. Automatically an alarm sounds, lights go on, elevators and other systems go into safety mode, access doors open, gas shutoff valves actuate to prevent fires, backup power comes online...Is your building Earthquake Intelligent?
Earthquakes are not rare events. On a yearly basis, 70 to 75 damaging earthquakes occur throughout the world. FEMA estimates that losses from a future earthquake in the United States approach $200 billion. Earthquakes exact a high toll in human injury, interruption of service, and damage to assets.
QuakeGuardTM products and services provide early warning of destructive earthquakes for commercial, manufacturing, industrial, public sector and residential buildings. QuakeGuard is an innovative and essential component of an intelligent building, and delivers:
Programmable audio and visual alarms to prevent human injury and loss of life:
Automated control of emergency systems, mission-critical equipment, hazards, and other systems to instantly minimize property damage, protect equipment, and prevent disruption of services.
Based on patented sensing technology, QuakeGuard detects P-waves (the non-destructive primary earthquake waves) in advance of damaging S and R waves, and provides a warning that the earthquake has begun.
Seismic Warning Systems earthquake intelligence gives you the power to be proactive, not reactive, about earthquakes.
QuakeGuard is an extraordinary technological development—a system that detects and warns of an imminent earthquake. QuakeGuard products and services provide two categories of quake damage mitigation:
Emergency and disaster relief agencies have continually maintained that even a few seconds of prior warning could greatly reduce injuries, fatalities and property damage resulting from an earthquake, by helping people move away from potentially dangerous objects and areas. Instantaneous alarms include:
Programmable audio alert.
Visual alert / lights.
QuakeGuard is internet-integrated, so it can also automatically notify appropriate parties that an earthquake has occurred at any location, communicating an alert through:
Pagers, cell phones, and the Internet.
Automated system controls can protect lives, prevent property damage, protect assets, and avoid disruption of mission-critical services in a variety of ways unique to each market segment, with significant ROI. Much earthquake loss is due to preventable collateral damage, such as fires from ruptured gas lines, electrical fires from broken electrical wiring, and inaccessible water reserves. For example, in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that devastated portions of the San Francisco Bay Area, much of the damage was caused by systems failures after the earthquake hit. Examples of pre-emptive actions include:
Seismic Safety Commission
Isolate hazards: Shut off gas and water main valves to prevent fire and water damage. Activate and lock /unlock electronic doors to protect assets and people. Isolate chemicals, gases, and fuel tanks. Prevent accidents in operating rooms. Shut down industrial processes. Protect transportation systems.
Protect mission-critical systems and avoid disruption of service: Open critical doors which could become inoperable through building deformation, such as opening fire station doors so rescue trucks can get out. Activate emergency power generation. Secure equipment. Arrest elevators, open doors, and lock in place.
Protect assets: Prevent damage to supplies, inventory, engines, machines and other capital equipment. Protect fuel and water supplies.
All earthquakes produce a series of different types of shock waves, which travel at different speeds and carry different amounts of energy. The fastest shock waves, and the first to arrive, are called P‑waves. These travel about twice as fast as the next fastest shock waves and rarely cause any damage. The next shock waves to arrive are called Shear waves (or S‑waves), followed by Love waves and Rayleigh waves, which cause most of the damage by earthquakes. Since the P‑waves arrive first, they can provide an advance notice of the heavy shaking to follow. The warning time is about 1 second for every 5 miles of distance to the hypocenter of the earthquake, which gives automated systems plenty of time to respond and enough time for people to react. Depending on the geological composition of the terrain and the distance from the hypocenter of the seismic event, a warning of 2 to 40 seconds is possible.
A QuakeGuard system consists of a seismic monitoring unit which is installed at the customer site. QuakeGuard comprises a main controller, with custom hardware and proprietary software, two or more remote redundant seismic sensors, and local interfaces to alarms and equipment controls. The unit interfaces to the internet for user management, and for remote monitoring, diagnostics and maintenance. QuakeGuard includes an automatic reset function so it can sense damaging aftershocks as well.
QuakeGuard is uniquely reliable, triggering only in the event of a damaging earthquake, typically 5.0 or greater. The cost of a false alarm is prohibitive for most automated response applications, especially in the commercial market. The system employs redundant sensors and patented DSP (digital signal processing) algorithms to accurately detect the vibrations associated with a seismic event. QuakeGuard is not triggered by smaller, non-damaging earthquakes or other sources of vibration such as machinery, vehicles, and construction equipment. In this regard, QuakeGuard has already proven to be 100% reliable.
QuakeGuard performed perfectly during a number of California earthquakes, most recently the 5.1 Anza quake in October 2001, and the 6.5 San Simeon quake in December 2003. QuakeGuard has also reliably filtered smaller quakes with no false positives on location at several installations in California, including a 3.7 quake felt in Temecula in September 2002. No false positives were registered at a Palm Springs installation despite busy airstrips nearby and intense vibrations caused by demolition and new construction at the site.
U.S. Geological Survey
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and other scientists conclude that there is a 62% probability of at least one magnitude 6.7 or greater quake, capable of causing widespread damage, striking the San Francisco Bay region before 2032.
The commercial market offers a host of applications for office space, wholesale, manufacturing and industrial buildings. Benefits:
Avoid human injury and associated liability.
Prevent disruption of productivity and services. Protect assets and prevent materials damage.
Prevent gas damage and risk of fires, prevent water damage, isolate hazardous chemicals and systems.
Protect inventory, and protect people from falling objects.
Protect computer information since the last system backup, which could represent substantial costs in information assets or billings, depending of the characteristics of the business.
Prevent damage to automation, engines, machines and other capital equipment by putting them in “safe mode” to prevent damage to assets, work in process, and operators.
SmartHome technology can now be expanded to offer earthquake early warning benefits:
Protect individuals: wake up, “duck and cover.”
Turn off gas to prevent fires.
Vacate high-risk areas, cease hazardous activities such as cooking.
Turn on lights.
Emergency services value proposition
QuakeGuard protects firefighting personnel, and helps them protect the community:
Prevent disruption of services, allowing fire departments to perform their lifesaving functions despite quake damage.
Open garage doors at fire stations before they become inoperable so fire trucks can get out.
Mitigate hazards (fuel tanks, gas, and water damage.)
In private schools, public schools, universities and colleges, we have a fiduciary responsibility to protect our children.
Protect students and teachers through “duck and cover” actions. The Field Act has mandated strict structural standards, and most California schools have been upgraded; soon all with be. But in a quake, the contents of the building still rattle around. Even a few seconds of warning helps students get into protective position.
Protect assets and supplies.
For hospitals, clinics, and long term care facilities:
Protect personnel and patients, halt surgical procedures, stabilize patients, avoid liability.
Protect mission crucial systems (emergency power generation, secure equipment.)
Control elevators and put them in safe mode.
Prevent hazards (accidents in OR, hazardous gases, water damage, helipad.)
Protect assets (computer data, medical inventory.)
Building Automation Integration
QuakeGuard is an exciting and important addition to a building automation strategy, and the first in its category in the rapidly growing market of seismic risk mitigation. The goal of SWS is to accelerate the adoption of QuakeGuard in key markets, including commercial, industrial, government and residential by establishing sales channel partnerships. QuakeGuard complements existing portfolios of building intelligence solutions and extends their value.
QuakeGuard’s automated control capabilities, easily customized and packaged for different markets, leverage the core patent-protected technology. The product can interface to any automated control system, such as open standards, BACnet, LON, OBIX, SCADA, MODBUS, CAN and Fieldbus, and is capable of controlling a wide range of devices.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has recognized 39 states as having significant earthquake risk, including Alaska, California, Georgia, Illinois, Oregon, South Carolina and Washington.
74% of the annual US earthquake loss is concentrated in California. Due to the lessons learned from the 1989 Loma Prieta and 1994 Northridge earthquakes, California’s businesses, residents and various state agencies are acutely earthquake aware.
Please contact Seismic Warning Systems for more information on how you can incorporate a solution for buildings that are earthquake intelligent!
About the Author
Holly Stump, V.P. Marketing, Seismic Warning Systems,
Holly Stump is a high tech marketing and sales executive with over 20 years of experience in B to B marketing, business development, channel management, and international sales. She is a veteran of 4 successful startups in electronic design automation and internet-based electronics supply chain, as VP of Sales and Marketing; VP Marketing; or VP Business Development. Despite this, she acknowledges that her best ROI has always been in real estate investments! Ms. Stump earned her BSEE at Illinois Institute of Technology (cum laude), and her MS Engineering Management at Stanford University. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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