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Earthquake App Moving to Cloud


Last updated 4/24/2017 at 8:10am

Tim Quinn, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) associate chief information officer has announced that earthquake app is moving to the cloud. In order to achieve better security, more storage, cheaper computing services, cloud services will provide important, and potentially life-saving, mission areas, such as early warnings for earthquakes and other natural disasters., the agency is using the cloud to save lives in real time.

“What the earthquake early warning is, and we are actually testing it in southern California, let’s say there is an earthquake in the Salton Sea, which is about 80 miles from Los Angeles, and let’s say you are in L.A. and you have your smartphone with you. If you downloaded our earthquake early warning system [app] on your smartphone, a big 8.0 earthquake hits in the Salton Sea and your smartphone goes off,” Quinn said on the Ask the CIO program. “You get a big red screen and it starts ticking down, 19, 18, 17… what’s happened behind the scenes is our earthquake sensors pick up the waves, they transmit it for processing, it gets analyzed and then triggers the earthquake early warning system, broadcasting out over the wireless networks to subscribers. The subscriber gets a screen that shows the potential severity [of the earthquake]. The processing is done fairly quickly.”

During an interview with Federal News Radio, Quinn said this means transit systems can slow down trains, emergency managers can have all the doors on fire stations open up or if you are in a hospital, you can secure the operating environment.

“This is an exciting application and we want to take advantage of the reliability and speed of cloud services,” he said. “In an application like this, every millisecond counts.”

USGS is already seeing benefits from the cloud with some applications like the national map, which provides the public with online, downloadable current and historical topographic maps. “By putting the national map in the cloud, we saw the usage go up,” he said. “What we have seen is we are getting millions of downloads per month by the public. Not only the usage went up, but so did the performance. We had a file that externally it took someone 120 seconds to download. When we moved it to the cloud, it was done in 1.8 seconds. That, for the public, the performance was great and downloading four other maps now became a lot less painful.”

To read the full interview,

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