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On the feasibility of IoT-based smart meters for earthquake early warning

Alireza Taale, Carlos E. Ventura and Jose Marti
On the feasibility of IoT-based smart meters for earthquake early warning
Earthquake Spectra (August 2021) 37 (3): 2066-2083


The microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) accelerometer built into a smart meter (SM) has a nominal digital resolution of 16 bits. However, this resolution collapses to 7 bits of information per sample when used in an urban environment. This collapse in resolution limits the sensitivity required to effectively operate the earthquake early warning platform (EEWP). In this study, we evaluate the performance of the MEMS sensor in present SMs with respect to a reference sensor, with a special focus on its poor noise power spectral density (PSD, approximately 1 mg/Hz). We also explore the general capacity of the SM in an IoT-based EEWP and provide explicit information regarding the 16-bit digital MEMS accelerometer. Then, we investigate the functionality of the sensor in the context of event detection in the presence of background vibration. When the value of acceleration root mean square (RMS) exceeds 20 mg, the meter's error decreases to <20%, whereas the peak ground acceleration error decreases to <20% for the peak value greater than approximately 70 mg. The MEMS sensor is unreliable for motions with a peak acceleration of less than 148 mg or those with an RMS value less than 46 mg. However, we note that SMs exhibit reasonable amplitude and phase coherence for frequencies above 1 Hz with respect to the reference accelerometer. To enhance the sensitivity, averaging 1000 coherent accelerometer observations enhances the digital resolution to 14 bits, which allows the efficient usage of the network bandwidth. Since the accelerometer is used as an anti-tampering mechanism, the SM is similar to a tiltmeter. Therefore, it is necessary to reconfigure SMs for early warning systems. Despite the challenges, the use of SM for an IoT-based EEWP is technically feasible.

ISSN: 8755-2930
EISSN: 1944-8201
Serial Title: Earthquake Spectra
Serial Volume: 37
Serial Issue: 3
Title: On the feasibility of IoT-based smart meters for earthquake early warning
Affiliation: Earthquake Engineering Research Facility, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Pages: 2066-2083
Published: 202108
Text Language: English
Publisher: Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, Berkeley, CA, United States
References: 27
Accession Number: 2022-003905
Categories: SeismologyEngineering geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 3 tables
Secondary Affiliation: Complex System Integration Center, CAN, Canada
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2022, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 2022
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