14-year-old Sebastian Alegri wasn’t injured in the 8.8 magnitude earthquake which shook his home country of Chile and claimed over 500 lives in 2010, but he was shaken up enough to decide they needed a better warning system. After the tsunami in Japan earlier this year, Alegri heard about Japan’s earthquake warning system and wondered if there was an affordable version he could use. He modified a $75 Quake Alarm by replacing an internal circuit with an Arduino board to interpret its readings and connected the setup to his server. 5 to 30 seconds before a perceptible earthquake, it automatically tweets a warning to his @AlarmaSismos account.
Since he set up this system, it’s tweeted before every major earthquake detectible in Santiago, Chile. Now he’s trying to set up more of these sensors around the country to give a full minute of advanced warning, and he’s talking with internet-to-text services to set up warnings sent immediately via SMS. So far, the services he’s talked to have too much of a delay between his warning tweets and when they’d text the warning. TheNextWeb reports that Alegri hopes the recent media attention on his warning system will help him negotiate directly with mobile operators to set up immediate text warnings.
Meanwhile, the Chilean government’s warning system is still in development and not even close to being ready. So not only has this kid bested his government’s warning system with very little cash, but he managed to do this at age 14. When we were that age we thought we were genius engineers for putting the right amount of tin foil on the antenna to unscramble the blocked TV stations for half a second.
I want more like this!
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