California establishes the Quake-Ready site

California establishes the Quake-Ready site

Educational campaign stresses the importance of being prepared

Drew Robb

Special to GCN

California, with many active faults running through it, has by far the highest earthquake risk of any state in the contiguous United States. With that in mind, state officials this year launched an earthquake preparedness program and designated April as California Earthquake Awareness Month.

The campaign is being taken to a new level with the state's promotion of the Quake-Ready Web site, at www.quake-ready.com.

The site is supported by a combination of state government and nonprofit organizations. Insurance commissioner Chuck Quackenbush, for example, fronts a televised promotional campaign that explains the importance of earthquake preparedness and directs people to the Web site.

Mission is education

Quake-Ready's mission is to educate children, teachers and parents about appropriate actions to take before, during and after an earthquake.

Officials said they hope that by designing the site for a mass audience, instead of an academic one, the ABCs of earthquake safety will be broadly available and will help reduce earthquake casualty rates.

The Quake-Ready site, which was laid out using Microsoft FrontPage 98 and a text editor, runs under on Microsoft Windows NT Server. All pages are in Hypertext Markup Language except for a quiz section created with Visual Basic scripting and Active Server Pages'Microsoft's open Web server application framework that combines scripting, HTML, robust database functionality, and custom server components to create distributed, Web-enabled applications.

Site designers found the combination of ASP and Visual Basic to be more reliable than traditional Common Gateway Interface scripting, officials said. To keep things simple they set up questionnaires in the quiz section that would run quickly on any browser without a database application. The entire form, therefore, is available in one page, and correct answers are hidden until the visitor picks a selection from a list of multiple-choice answers. The Quake Quiz is available in three versions'for adults, children and teachers.

Designed for usability

Web usability was another important aspect of the site design. Accordingly, the Quake-Ready pages are short and the language is simple.

To heighten the site's appeal, the face of Los Angeles Lakers star Shaquille O'Neal'the official spokesman for the California Quake-Ready Campaign'greets visitors to the home page.

A series of buttons takes visitors to earthquake information pages and hyperlinks to related agencies.

The Quake Alert Button, for example, has browser links to the California Office of Emergency Services site, which offers publications and videos.

The Geological Society's National Earthquake Information Center and detailed Federal Emergency Management Agency preparedness reports are also accessible from the home page.

Another series of screens explains what an earthquake is and what to do before, during and after a quake. These pages are further broken down into information on preparedness in the home or car, at school and at work, and in public places.

Visitors are invited to ask questions, make comments and request a brochure on earthquake preparedness.

The site hands out checklists, maps and drills. Visitors can access, for instance, a seismic map of a particular area. Courtesy of the Seismological Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley, visitors can zoom from a U.S. seismic map to a local city view of earthquake frequency and magnitude.

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