The main parts used to create GPS receivers can also be used to create a system of sensors that will help improve warnings or response times to severe weather, floods, tsunamis, and earthquakes. According to the Christian Science Monitor, researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California have been working on a prototype system of sensors that works using a network of GPS receivers to track changes along earthquake faults in the western United States. Researchers found that “by adding inexpensive temperature, air pressure, and motion sensors common in today’s smart phones . . . the system can arm forecasters and emergency managers with important information earlier and more frequently than using existing techniques.” These sensors can also be added to other buildings and structures to measure damage after an earthquake. Several areas, buildings, and structures in southern California have already begun testing these new GPS weather sensors. Researchers are pleased with the results: this prototype system has proven to be “faster, more accurate, more reliable, and more versatile than current tools” used to measure seismic activity. The ultimate goal of using this sensor on structures is to help emergency managers get a faster, clearer sense of where the heaviest damage to and tilting of, buildings is occurring happening To read more about how this new GPS sensor works, as well as where and how it is being used on structures and buildings in southern California, check out the Christian Science Monitor article, “Smart Phone Technology Boosts Early Warning for Extreme Weather, Quakes.”
What do a smart phone’s GPS system and a seismograph have in common?