NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, along with California Institute of Technology and other universities, are working together in the development of the Real-Time Earthquake Analysis for Disaster Mitigation Network.
"This is about gathering information of the event while it's happening. It's not about predicting the event in advance," said Dr. Frank Webb of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Instant calculations on the size and strength of an earthquake would be available from a network of 500 GPS stations located in California, Oregon and Washington.
"We can provide valuable information in response to earthquakes as they're unfolding, and so this is a prototype network to demonstrate that," said Webb.
The concept of the network has GPS stations near the epicenter of a quake sending out mobile phone text alerts alerting first responders and people on the outskirts of the epicenter that a quake is headed their way.
"Let's say you're walking into a building and you get a warning shaking is coming in 30 seconds or a minute or 15 seconds, you might make a different decision about walking into the building," said Webb.
And since the Coachella Valley sits right on the San Andreas Fault, people living in the valley realize the potential of the network when a quake is in progress.
"Realistically, I think it's too late at that point, but it would let you know the severity of the quake, the magnitude, and I'd think it would tell you whether you need to go home to shut off the gas pipes or not worry about it. I think, yeah, it has some value," said Indian Wells resident JR Thomas.
Dave Stewart of the Off The Grid Survival Supply Store in Palm Desert, also likes the idea of a warning network, but stresses that people need to be ready for the aftermath of a major quake.
"What I think is even more important is the fact that you get prepared," said Stewart. "You know, don't wait for it to happen and expect to have water and food stored up. So, please, prepare for your families."