KCBS Reporter Curtiss Kim

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — California has been working on an earthquake early warning system for over a year and at San Francisco City Hall, there is one state senator who wants to know when instituting the program can begin.

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State Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) authored the bill last year calling for the earthquake early-warning system to be implemented statewide and called for the hearing in San Francisco to find out what progress has been made.

“There a sensors that would be deployed throughout the state of California, all giving these signals to a central computer that can then sense an earthquake as it’s beginning and give people maybe tens of seconds—maybe 45 or 65 seconds—of warning,” Padilla said.

Currently there are a few hundred sensors but the plan calls for 1,200 statewide and Padilla said the early system has a goal to be up and running in 2016. While the technology is readily available, the money to fund such a project is not.

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“One of the caveats of last year’s bill was to fund this system without the use of General Fund dollars,” Padilla said. “To me that wasn’t a big deal because there are other pots—there are special funds, federal grants and even private sector interests in a public-private partnership to fund this system.”

A fully realized system will cost about $80 million.

Countries such as Japan, Mexico and China all have these types of systems. More than 50 million Japanese received early warnings via a smartphone app prior to the massive 9.0 Tohoku, Japan, quake in 2011.

Padilla’s efforts come on the heels of the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

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