Abstract

The continuity of monitoring operations at national earthquake centers during crisis is an important challenge. In 2020, because of the COronaVIrus Disease 2019 (COVID‐19) health emergency, monitoring centers all over the world faced new, unexpected problems. In Italy, the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) has the duty to perform earthquake and volcano monitoring, seismic surveillance and tsunami alerting, and maintaining effective communication with the National Civil Protection agency and the public. During the lockdown, that started on 9 March 2020, INGV set up a series of sanitary and organizational measures and improved the technological infrastructures in the control room in Rome for remote use of software for seismic network monitoring, seismic surveillance, and tsunami alerting. Our main goal was to protect the researchers and technicians on duty as much as possible and develop the remote use of software tools necessary to perform service activities when needed to limit the presence in the control room to the essential.

In the first month of lockdown, we implemented the organizational controls, the health aids, and the tools for remote surveillance and alerting, and gave online training courses for about 100 shift workers. At the end of March 2020, most of the technicians, researchers, and tsunami experts on duty were able to access the new monitoring tools from home. During these months, the shifts in the control room were done in person and we performed remote seismic surveillance and tsunami alerting only during the weekly disinfections of the control room and at the beginning of each week. The tools developed during the COVID health emergency are going to be useful in the future especially in the case of other emergencies including the occurrence of a strong earthquake.

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