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Can a privatized earthquake warning system be cheaper, faster?




Palm Springs Fire Chief John Allen stands in front of the Seismic Warning Systems' early warning unit at his station. He says the instrument gives his firefighters crucial lead time in preparing for serious shaking.
Palm Springs Fire Chief John Allen stands in front of the Seismic Warning Systems' early warning unit at his station. He says the instrument gives his firefighters crucial lead time in preparing for serious shaking.
KPCC / Sanden Totten

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A few seconds of warning before a major earthquake could save lives. That's why state legislators passed a bill last year asking for a seismic early warning system. Federal geologists have a prototype in place, but it would cost tens of millions of dollars to scale up.

Now, a private company says it could get the job done for a lot less. Southern California Public Radio’s Sanden Totten says that claim is causing somewhat of a rift in the quake community.