In DepthEarthquake Damage

Cheap devices bring quake damage sensing to the masses

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Science  01 Mar 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6430, pp. 912-913
DOI: 10.1126/science.363.6430.912

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Researchers in Mexico, Taiwan, California, and elsewhere are beginning to equip buildings with cheap sensor systems that, in future earthquakes, will monitor shaking and automatically assess whether damage has occurred. The ideas behind the technology are not new. Earthquake engineers have long put sensors in large, critical structures such as bridges and skyscrapers, so they can look for clues to hidden, deadly damage after a quake. The plummeting cost of sensitive accelerometers and the cloud computing needed to process all the data is allowing researchers in both the public and private sectors to deploy the sensors much more widely. Scientists hope the systems can save lives and help prioritize repairs in the wake of deadly earthquakes.