At the beginning of 2006, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Earthquake Hazards Program (EHP) introduced a new automated Earthquake Notification Service (ENS) to take the place of the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) "Bigquake" system and the various other individual EHP e-mail list-servers for separate regions in the United States. These included northern California, southern California, and the central and eastern United States. ENS is a "one-stop shopping" system that allows Internet users to subscribe to flexible and customizable notifications for earthquakes anywhere in the world. The customization capability allows users to define the what (magnitude threshold), the when (day and night thresholds), and the where (specific regions) for their notifications. Customization is achieved by employing a per-user based request profile, allowing the notifications to be tailored for each individual's requirements. Such earthquake-parameter-specific custom delivery was not possible with simple e-mail list-servers. Now that event and user profiles are in a structured query language (SQL) database, additional flexibility is possible. At the time of this writing, ENS had more than 114,000 subscribers, with more than 200,000 separate user profiles. On a typical day, more than 188,000 messages get sent to a variety of widely distributed users for a wide range of earthquake locations and magnitudes. The purpose of this article is to describe how ENS works, highlight the features it offers, and summarize plans for future developments.
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The USGS Earthquake Notification Service (ENS): Customizable notifications of earthquakes around the globe