Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Internet Based Early Warning Earthquake Detector

Alright, time for another installment of the Fat Knowledge million dollar ideas series.

This weeks episode: an early warning earthquake detector that requires nothing but a bit of internet programming. This idea is so easy and simple to copy that I don't think you could make a lot of money off of it. While that doesn't sound like a million dollar idea, it still technically qualifies because you can help others save millions of dollars in damages.

I was watching a documentary (on PBS I believe) about the San Francisco earthquake of 1989 where they reported that an abnormally high number of dogs and cats ran away in the days before the earthquake. Apparently these animals can sense something that we can't and feel the need to leave the area.

Taking that piece of knowledge, you can do some simple programming to determine a day or two in advance where an earthquake will strike. You simply need to write a script that runs daily and scrapes the number of missing pets by city from online databases such as Pets 911, Craigslist or Twitter. When the script detects an abnormal spike in lost animals in a city, it emails you the location of where an earthquake is about to occur. You can then warn everybody to get out of the area, help avoid millions of dollars of damages, save countless lives and become a big hero.

As always, I am too lazy to do this myself, but you are welcome to all the fame and fortune yourself if you want to make it happen. I just ask for an "inspired by Fat Knowledge" attribution.

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