We use cookies to enhance your browsing experience and analyze our traffic. By using our site, you consent to cookies. Privacy policy

Public television delivers first-ever earthquake early warning in under three seconds

Successful Field Trial Shows Why More than 96 Percent of Californians Support Public Broadcasting’s Role in Earthquake Alerts

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA AND WASHINGTON, D.C., October 9, 2018 – The first-ever earthquake early warning in under three seconds was successfully delivered three weeks ago, on September 18, 2018, during a field trial by KVIE, the public television station based in Sacramento, California. Four other California public broadcasting stations will soon be testing public television’s datacasting system for earthquake early warnings: KPBS (San Diego), KQED (San Francisco), PBS SoCal (Los Angeles) and Valley PBS (Fresno).

“KVIE was honored to partner with Cal OES to conduct this critical field trial of earthquake early warnings in California,” said David Lowe, president and general manager of KVIE. “This work is part of KVIE’s commitment to public service and public safety. We are proud to work with the state of California to help alert first responder agencies and the public of a pending earthquake, where seconds matter and lives are at stake.”

“Public broadcasters in California are true pioneers in public safety, demonstrating the lifesaving power of public television’s datacasting infrastructure,” said Patrick Butler, president and chief executive officer of America’s Public Television Stations (APTS). “This field trial shows that public television can deliver the fastest ever earthquake alerts and warnings—in less than three seconds—the first time this dramatic new standard has ever been achieved. (The previous standard was 30 seconds.) When an earthquake hits, every second counts. We are proud to partner with local law enforcement and first responder agencies, especially Cal OES, to use the power of public television to keep all Americans safe.”

America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) and Eagle Hill Consulting have been working with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and California public television stations on a multi-year project to develop a robust high-speed data delivery capacity for time-sensitive earthquake early warnings in California’s most populated areas. The California Earthquake Early Warning System (CEEWS) is comprised of seismic sensors, data processing centers, and end-user distribution mechanisms to warn individuals, institutions and infrastructure operators of impending shaking once an earthquake is detected.

The public television project uses a network of existing high-power, over-the-air, data-capable television transmitters serving Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Fresno and Sacramento to carry CEEWS alerts with the low-latency and broad reach of the public TV system. The public TV infrastructure has been “ruggedized” specifically for providing highly-available and survivable services during all forms of natural disasters, unlike other communications systems.

“Californians need better and quicker earthquake warnings, and this break-through trial shows public broadcasting is delivering,” says John McCoskey, Eagle Hill’s technology, media, and entertainment industry lead executive. “Our research finds that the overwhelming majority of Californians say they want public television to play a role in providing earthquake early warnings. Public broadcasting isn’t just about popular programming, it’s also about saving lives and infrastructure.”

Eagle Hill Consulting’s research found that:

  • 93 percent of Americans want the public broadcasting system to help provide an early warning when an earthquake strikes, and 96 percent of Californians agree.
  • The vast majority of Americans (88 percent) believe the government should invest in an earthquake early warning system, and slightly more Californians agree (94 percent).
  • 95 percent of Americans say it is important that emergency warnings be accessible to everyone at the same time, including individuals with disabilities and those in rural areas and low-income communities.

Some 143 million people in the United States are exposed to potentially damaging ground shaking from earthquakes. Leveraging the vast public broadcasting infrastructure can serve as a highly effective means to deploy life-saving advance alerts for all Americans, including those with disabilities, living in rural areas, and for low-income communities. Potential benefits of an earthquake early warning system include:

  • Public Warning – Alert individuals to drop, cover and hold on or safely stop vehicles.
  • First Responder Mobilization – Open fire station doors for rapid deployment of emergency response equipment and personnel.
  • Medical Services – Notify surgeons and dentists to stop delicate procedures and maintain critical medical facility operations.
  • Utility Infrastructure – Safeguard energy sector grid and other utilities infrastructure for strong shaking with warning alarms and automatic controls to prevent combustions, flooding and loss of water distribution systems.
  • Mass Transit Systems – Prevent fatal collisions by automatically slowing and stopping trains, clearing bridges and diverting inbound airport traffic.
  • Workplace Safety – Evacuate employees to safe locations, initiate elevator recall procedures to ground floor, place sensitive equipment in safe mode, secure chemicals and hazardous materials and halt production lines to reduce damage.

America’s public television stations are committed to three essential public service missions: education, public safety and civic leadership. As the last locally-controlled media in America, reaching nearly 97 percent of the American people, public television stations are uniquely positioned to provide these services, not only on television but also in the classroom, online, as part of the emergency response network and in the community.

Public media has cultivated considerable expertise in public safety, emergency communications and spectrum management over the past decade, gaining a reputation as a trusted and reliable resource and partner for federal agencies, commercial entities and the public.

The Eagle Hill public polling research was conducted by Ipsos in March 2018 as a survey of 1,005 interviews across the US adult population, and 503 respondents in California. The results were weighted to reflect U.S. demographic factors, including age, income, the four national census regions, and gender.


About KVIE Public Television
Broadcasting from California’s capital since 1959, KVIE Public Television helps viewers explore the world through engaging experiences in current events, drama, history, nature, science, and more. As a member station of PBS, the most trusted media institution in America, KVIE curates the best in educational television programming and online content available, reaching almost 1.4 million households in the nation’s 20th largest television market. KVIE can be viewed in 28 of California’s 58 counties and brings our region the highest quality programming like PBS NewsHour, Nature, NOVA, and MASTERPIECE, and is also one of the leading producers of public television programming in the country with series like America’s Heartland, Rob on the Road, Studio Sacramento, Inside California Education, and Yes! We’re Open. For more information, visit KVIE’s website at www.kvie.org.

About America’s Public Television Stations
America’s Public Television Stations is a nonprofit membership organization ensuring a strong and financially sound public television system and helping member stations provide essential public services in education, public safety and civic leadership to the American people. For more information, visit www.apts.org.

About Eagle Hill Consulting LLC
Eagle Hill Consulting is a woman-owned business that provides management consulting services in the areas of business strategy, organizational transformation, human capital transformation, process improvement, program management, and change management. With offices in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and in Seattle, Washington, Eagle Hill works with a range of public, private, and non-profit organizations across the country. More information is available at www.eaglehillconsulting.com.

Media Contacts:

Andrea Anderson|916.641.3535 | aanderson@kvie.org | @KVIEPBS

Stacey Karp | 202.654.4222 | skarp@apts.org | @aptstweet

Susan Nealon | 703.989.5714 | snealon@eaglehillconsulting.com | @WeAreEagleHill