IIT Roorkee is working towards deploying the ‘early earthquake warning’ system across major cities in north India. “This first-of-its-kind project is part of the research being conducted by IIT Roorkee in the field of earthquake engineering and is an extension to the existing pilot project being undertaken in the Himalayan region,” IIT Roorkee, located in north Indian state Uttarakhand’s Haridwar district, said in a statement. As a pilot, which started in 2015, IIT Roorkee deployed 84 sensors in the seismic gap region of Garhwal Himalaya with the help of the ministry of earth sciences. These on-site sensors stream data in real-time to a computer server at IIT Roorkee using the networks of BSNL and SWAN (Structured Wireless-Aware Network) of the government of Uttarakhand. This project was successfully completed in March 2017.
Prof ML Sharma from the Department of Earthquake Engineering, IIT Roorkee, and the principal investigator of the project, said this is the first time the ‘early earthquake warning’ system is being deployed for public use. “Predicting earthquakes is impossible, but it is possible to save people living in distant areas through a warning system that gives them enough lead time to reach a safe place. Within two years, we hope to scale up this project with the support of the government and set up the ‘early earthquake warning’ system across cities in north India.” ‘Early earthquake warning’ works on the principle of propagation of waves with different velocities starting together from the same point and reaching the target at different times. “Electromagnetic waves travel faster and reach the target much ahead of the damaging seismic waves, giving what we call a lead time. An on-site seismic monitor near the earthquake source can detect seismic waves and transmit information to processing centres, which can issue an earthquake warning in real-time,” added Prof Sharma.