Scientists are working to enhance existing GPS technologies to develop new systems for California and elsewhere to warn of natural disaster threats, such as earthquakes, tsunamis and extreme weather events, according to Homeland Security News Wire.

The system, developed by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, uses real-time information from GPS stations upgraded with small, inexpensive seismic and meteorological sensors. This technology is also being used to assess damage to hospitals, bridges and other critical infrastructure that can be used in real-time by emergency personnel, decision makers and first responders to help mitigate public safety threats, the article says.

The technology was demonstrated in July, when it was used to track a summer monsoon rain event and issue more accurate and timely flash flood warnings.

For hospitals, the goal is to shut down elevators automatically and send alerts to operating room personnel, for example, when an earthquake early warning is received. For bridges, the system may detect changes to their structure due to earthquakes, wind shear and traffic loads.