14 year old hacks a Twitter earthquake warning system
Sebastian Alegria is a 14 year from Chile who has hacked together a Twitter based regional earthquake alert system after seeing his country experience a magnitude 8.8 earthquake in 2010 (Largest quake ever was also recorded in Chile in 1960) and learning about the lives saved in Japan's 2011 quake from the advanced early warning system operated there.
Sebastian began his project with the purchase of an off-the-shelf "P" wave (compression wave) QuakeAlarmdetector for $75 which provides some added warning time in the case of an emergency through an audible alarm system. Sebastian pulled this detector apart and replaced the internal circuit with an Arduino board, connecting this newly outfitted device to his server and eventually online through the Twitter API. The result? Now the 77,000+ followers on his @AlarmaSismos account are given an extra 5-20 seconds to prepare themselves when the next big one hits.
Sebastian is currently working with local cell phone providers to try and hook his system up to SMS alerts which would result in up to a minute of advanced warning time. According to El Comercio others have already contacted him to spread the system in other parts of the country as the Chiliean governments online warning system is not fully operational. When asked about the success of his current setup he answered " I predicted five earthquakes since April. So far it has detected all the earthquakes that people feel (about 5 degrees Richter more or less) with five to 20 seconds in advance , depending on the distance from the hypocenter. You can improve time and efficiency by adding more sensors in Chile, which will happen"
It will be impressive to watch what is next for this 14 year old and the next generation of kids as they continue to experiment with open hardware and all of the new data and platforms available to them in the years to come.