BARSTOW The next time the earth shakes, residents of Barstow may be able to contribute data from earthquake sensors installed in their own home via the Internet.

The United States Geological Survey is asking for volunteers from the Southern California area to install digital seismographs within their homes as part of the NetQuakes program. The areas that are most qualified to recieve seismographs include locations near dense population centers, clusters of buildings, active faults, and the I-15 corridor.

Barstow would be a logical place for a sensor because the area is home to several large faults, including the Lenwood-Lockhart fault, the Calico fault and the Camp Rock fault, said Douglas Given, the project chief for earthquake monitoring in Southern California for USGS.
There are only 35 sensors available for residents in Southern California right now and a total of 750 applications had been received in the first two days after the announcement.

The NetQuakes project will allow for more detailed information about earthquakes to be released to emergency responders and scientists so that better emergency response programs can be developed. The earthquake sensors will be connected via wireless routers to a broadband Internet connection, where the data will be continously updated.

If an earthquake occurs, the data could be uploaded in about a minute. Batteries will be used as backup in case a power outage occurs.

The devices are the size of a large shoebox and cost upwards of $6,000 each, said Given. Most seismographs that are hosted in universities and other locations cost about $35,000.

The stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will pay for the first 35 sensors that will be installed in Southern California. Given is hoping that there will be more money available from other sources in order to expand the program further.

The application process will be open indefinitely, so Given said that residents should not be discouraged if they are not accepted in the first round.

John Fertsch, a Barstow resident who transmits weather information on Weather Underground, was interested in participating in the program but does not fit all of the requirements.

"I think that would be a real neat and viable thing that we could have out here," said Fertsch.

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