The West Coast of the United States is “earthquake country.” The US Geological Survey (USGS)-managed ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System – in collaboration with academic, government, technical, emergency management, and community partners – is committed to educating the public about protective actions that can mitigate harm from earthquake hazards when shaking is expected. To advance this goal, the USGS has developed this ShakeAlert Tests, Drills, and Exercises Toolkit to incorporate earthquake early warning (EEW) into existing training activities.
As of 2022, ShakeAlert-powered alerts are delivered to cell phones via downloadable apps, the Android Operating System, and the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system (similar to an AMBER alert). ShakeAlert-powered products and services also trigger automated actions to protect people, critical infrastructure, and vital systems, and to enable a faster return to normal status following an earthquake. For example, ShakeAlert EEW integration into facilities and vital infrastructure systems enables alerts to be automatically broadcast over public address systems in school and hospital settings. It can also slow and stop passenger rail trains, as well as close water valves to protect people and conserve this essential resource when shaking is expected.
Currently, EEW systems are operational in several places around the world, while others are in the development or construction phase. While the operational systems can vary in design, preparedness tests, drills, and exercises offer universal safety benefits.
About this Toolkit
Emergency preparedness tests, drills, and exercises, including those with an EEW component, are key to whole-community preparedness. They help organizations to shape plans, assess and validate capabilities, and address areas for improvement. Designed for organizations that have implemented ShakeAlert EEW or are considering its integration, this ShakeAlert Tests, Drills, and Exercises Toolkit provides resources for planning, conducting, and evaluating tests, drills, and exercises with an EEW element. More broadly, organizations whose stakeholders (i.e., members, employees, visitors, patrons, etc.) receive ShakeAlert-powered notifications on their cell phones can also find this Toolkit to be helpful.
This ShakeAlert Tests, Drills, and Exercises Toolkit is meant to be “modular,” so that an organization can use some or all of its contents to suit its size, resources, and desired frequency of tests, drills, and exercises. It can be used by both private and public entities, as well as community groups. This document will be regularly updated as the ShakeAlert EEW system evolves.