Why I joined the call to fund a 24/7 operations centre for GeoNet – Shaun Hendy

Following the Kaikoura earthquake, calls have been made for a 24/7 hazard monitoring system. Professor Shaun Hendy, author of Silencing Science, wrote about why he supported the call.

An excerpt (read in full):

Do you remember those golden-weathered days when city-levelling earthquakes were things New Zealanders learnt about at school in history books?

Six years after the Darfield earthquake, many Kiwis can spend an evening trading quake stories. We can read aftershock forecasts at a glance and compete to see whether we can better GeoNet’s first-pass magnitude alerts.

GeoNet, a network of seismographs that spans the country, is a digital native. Conceived in the late 1990s, it began life in 2001 with the financial backing of the EQC and the technical grunt of GNS Science. It came of age during the Canterbury earthquake sequence, establishing itself on social media as the first place Kiwis turn after the rumbling stops.

But like any new technology, we are still learning how to use it. During the Canterbury earthquakes its scientists shied away from broadcasting aftershock forecasts, unsure of how the public would react to the news that frightening shakes were still to come.

It turns out though that after an earthquake Kiwis can cope with as much as science can possibly tell them. After the Kaikōura earthquake last week, we were given access to everything GeoNet’s scientists knew, as fast as they knew it.

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