Woof-Woof Code: How the First Earthquake Alarm System with Volunteer Dogs Works | El Comercio

Woof-Woof Code: How the First Earthquake Alarm System with Volunteer Dogs Works | El Comercio

Our pets’ sixth sense is being harnessed by an earthquake early warning system called Animal Alerts. A smart collar reads the stress, pulse and more data of this group of volunteer dogs. The information could help us be prepared for tremor.

Originally Posted on El Comercio

Diana Gonzales Obando

06/23/2024 1:35 PM

Screenshot 2024 06 30 at 17.59.00 Woof-Woof Code: How the First Earthquake Alarm System with Volunteer Dogs Works | El Comercio
This is Zimba, a 3-year-old golden retriever who lives in Cercado de Lima. He has been part of the Animal Alertas project since March. / Victor Idrogo / Iconic

Conventional wisdom often links nervousness or unusual behavior in pets, especially dogs, with an instinctive way of perceiving a seismic event before it occurs. Studies of animal behavior have found that, indeed, puppies can show an anticipatory response to a tremor or earthquake.

With key information collected by the Animal Alerts project, through a collar with a microchip installed, the temperature, pulse, heart rate variability and stress levels of the best friends in the home are measured; in this way, data is obtained that, systematized, sends an early earthquake alert to the cell phone. “If several pets are restless at the same time, it can be a high indicator that seismic activity could occur. Using the collars allows us to make these symptoms visible and thus alert the population so that they can protect themselves,” explains the publicist and spokesperson for the project, Rolando Córdova. This alert can arrive between one or two minutes before the tremor. Currently, they are in the process of looking for allies and more volunteer dogs so that this information helps more people.

Screenshot 2024 06 30 at 17.59.15 Woof-Woof Code: How the First Earthquake Alarm System with Volunteer Dogs Works | El Comercio
The smart collar processes information about the pet’s health such as heart rate, heartbeat, stress and processes the data with Artificial Intelligence. When unusual behavior is detected in a group of pets, it is evaluated and the alert is sent by cell phone./ Animal Al

The smart collar has been developed by the PetPace company that offers an artificial intelligence platform for the evaluation and management of pet health. “We analyzed this type of data in pets and made the intersection with the scientific studies carried out by Dr. Rachel Grant, a specialist in animal behavior at London South Bank University,” continues Córdova.

The project began in January of this year and to begin the studies with volunteers they have chosen Peru, due to its high seismic activity and its location in the Pacific ring of fire. They hope to expand to Türkiye and Japan. At the moment, they have 170 volunteer dogs in Lima who are using the collar and whose owners can receive the early warning, in addition to being informed at all times about the health of their pets through an application or through the Animal Alerts website. . It is expected to reach at least 250 volunteers due to the large size of the capital and, according to Rolando’s calculations, within a month the early warning could be communicated to the largest possible population.

“We are looking at expanding information through digital panels that are activated in real time announcing the probability of an earthquake, having alliances with local radio stations and partnerships, and thus making it possible for alerts to reach even phones that are not registered,” says the project director.

canine support

The dog volunteers are in Cercado de Lima, Callao, Chorrillos, Barranco, Miraflores, San Juan de Lurigancho, among other districts, and more dogs are expected to join. One of them is Zimba, a 3-year-old golden retriever who is also an ‘influencer’ (Instagram: zimba_elinocencio). Her owner, Maricruz Ruiz, is very happy with Zimba’s participation in the project: “She is contributing a grain of sand to this study that can yield very beneficial results for all people, both in Peru and in other countries. When this project yields positive results and Zimba’s name appears as part of it, she will have been much more than a pet for society and, for that, I feel quite grateful.”

Screenshot 2024 06 30 at 17.59.47 Woof-Woof Code: How the First Earthquake Alarm System with Volunteer Dogs Works | El Comercio
Victor Idrogo / Iconic

Similarly, Grecia Valverde, owner of Latika, a 6-year-old toy poodle, is making the best use of all the information that the collar provides about Latika’s health: “I check her vital signs, heart rate, breathing, the posture she has calories during the day. She even sends me suggestions for feeding her. Being part of the Animal Alerts project makes me happy because it is to prevent any catastrophe. “This way, I can protect her, act quickly and take her to a place where she won’t get hurt.”

With this technology, what we want is to give the population one more tool so that they are informed about a possible earthquake, although the margin of error must always be taken into account. In a country like ours, continually shaking and with the announcement of a major earthquake just around the corner, a little help from our beloved pets doesn’t hurt. //

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Besides…How to take part?

-You can register your dogs voluntarily on the website www.animal-alerts. org. Once contacted, the collar will arrive at home and they will have access to information about their pet’s health and receive seismic alert messages.

-In ancient Greece, snakes or mice were observed leaving their homes before a seismic event. Cats and birds also have a keen sense of perceiving an earthquake before it occurs.

-As we are located in the Pacific ring of fire, the capital is a candidate to experience an earthquake of magnitude 8.5 or more that could destroy Lima and Callao. It is important to prevent and have an emergency backpack with food, a first aid kit, a flashlight and a coat. 

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