Accounting for end-user preferences in earthquake early warning systems


Earthquake early warning systems (EEWSs) that rapidly trigger risk-reduction actions after a potentially-damaging earthquake is detected are an attractive tool to reduce seismic losses. One brake on their implementation in practice is the difficulty in setting the threshold required to trigger pre-defined actions: set the level too high and the action is not triggered before potentially-damaging shaking occurs and set the level too low and the action is triggered too readily. Balancing these conflicting requirements of an EEWS requires a consideration of the preferences of its potential end users. In this article a framework to define these preferences, as part of a participatory decision making procedure, is presented. An aspect of this framework is illustrated for a hypothetical toll bridge in a seismically-active region, where the bridge owners wish to balance the risk to people crossing the bridge with the loss of toll revenue and additional travel costs in case of bridge closure. Multi-attribute utility theory (MAUT) is used to constrain the trigger threshold for four owners with different preferences. We find that MAUT is an appealing and transparent way of aiding the potentially controversial decision of what level of risk to accept in EEW.

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This study was supported by REAKT (Strategies and tools for Real Time EArthquake RisK ReducTion), a Framework 7 project funded by the European Commission (ENV.2011.1.3.1-1). We thank Gordon Woo for discussions on decision making. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their extensive and detailed comments on an earlier version of this article.

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Correspondence to Thomas Le Guenan.

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Le Guenan, T., Smai, F., Loschetter, A. et al. Accounting for end-user preferences in earthquake early warning systems. Bull Earthquake Eng 14, 297–319 (2016).

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  • Earthquake early warning (EEW)
  • Decision making
  • End-user preferences
  • Bridges
  • Thresholds
  • Multi-attribute utility theory (MAUT)