Developers testing an earthquake early warning system for the West Coast say its automated alerts are ready to be used more broadly, but not for mass public notification.
U.S. Geological Survey official Doug Given told reporters Wednesday at the California Institute of Technology that the ShakeAlert system has transitioned from a production prototype to operational mode.
The system being built for California, Oregon and Washington detects an earthquake is occurring and sends out alerts that may give warnings of few seconds to perhaps a minute before shaking arrives at locations away from the epicenter.
Select industries, utilities, schools and other entities have been using ShakeAlert for years, and officials say it can be used more widely.
Officials say, however, that cellphone technology is too slow for mass alerts.