A new online platform to facilitate statewide earthquake preparedness


QuakeCAFE: A new online platform to facilitate statewide earthquake preparedness

On August 24, a magnitude-6.0 earthquake struck Northern California, injuring hundreds of people, causing millions of dollars in damage, and reminding Californians and government leaders across the state about the challenges and risks inherent to natural disasters.

We believe that new technology has enormous potential to increase public awareness and engagement toward preparing for a major earthquake, as well as help coordinate communication about preparedness between the public and government leaders. In collaboration with the California Office of Lt. Governor Newsom, the CITRIS Data and Democracy Initiative at UC Berkeley has developed a new online platform to do just that–QuakeCAFE.

QuakeCAFE takes two minutes to complete and works on all screens: quakecafe.org

QuakeCAFE in hand

In the spirit of the California ShakeOut, QuakeCAFE facilitates self-assessment of people’s attitudes and personal disaster preparedness, provides feedback about ways people can better prepare, encourages people to suggest ideas for ways governments can improve earthquake preparedness, and visualizes others’ ideas so people can consider and rate their usefulness.

In contrast to past earthquake preparedness resources, QuakeCAFE utilizes an online platform (also accessible on mobile devices) to provide instant feedback to participants about how well prepared they are for an earthquake were it to strike in that moment, and allows them to compare their preparedness in relation to others.  QuakeCAFE is free to use, works on any mobile device or personal computer connected to the Internet.

There is a 99.7% chance that California will experience a magnitude-7.5 or greater earthquake in the next 30 years and international experts agree that proper preparedness for a major earthquake has the potential to save thousands of lives in California [1]. Unfortunately, data suggest that many Californians are still underprepared to handle a major disaster. For example, only 40% of people surveyed reported keeping at least three gallons of water stored per person, and only 60% of people have learned how to be safe during and after an earthquake [2].

It is our hope that QuakeCAFE helps spread knowledge and interest in earthquake preparedness, and inspires people to become fully prepared.

You can take QuakeCAFE at: http://quakecafe.org

QuakeCAFE emerged from the California Report Card (californiareportcard.org), a bilingual (English and Spanish) online platform that allows participants to assess government performance on timely policy issues and suggest issues for increased priority at the state level. Since the launch of the California Report Card in early February 2014, over 11,000 participants from all 58 counties have assigned over 30,000 grades to the State of California and suggested issues for increased priority. Disaster preparedness was revealed as one of the top-suggested issues submitted on the platform.

“The California Report Card is a new way for elected officials, including myself, to keep an ear to the ground,” said Lt. Governor Newsom. “The platform has revealed statewide support for more attention to disaster preparedness, which has become one of my top priorities.”

More Information:



• [1] Recent Earthquakes Near California, United States. Earthquake Track. 2014.

• [2] The Study of Household Preparedness: Preparing California for Earthquakes. Report by The Alfred Alquist Seismic Safety Commission to the California State Legislature, July 2009.

About CITRIS and the CITRIS Data and Democracy Initiative

The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) creates information technology solutions for many of our most pressing social, environmental, and health care problems. The CITRIS Data and Democracy Initiative (DDI) develops tools to support the evolving, dynamic relationships between digital media and democratic practices, including novel mobile, Internet and social media applications to enhance online deliberation, participatory decision-making, and rapid mobilization. DDI seeks to enhance individual and collective awareness, understanding, and engagement for people of diverse backgrounds on critical social, political, and economic issues. This multidisciplinary, multi-campus initiative supports civic engagement through technology-enabled solutions in California, the nation, and globally.