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Modern instrumentation systems that collect, analyze, distribute, and archive data on earthquakes and associated hazards have already been put in place successfully in a number of countries. These systems have improved the accuracy of long-term assessments of the likelihood of future hazards, including earthquakes and tsunamis, and also have improved the speed of emergency response through rapid determination of earthquake location and the extent and level of damage.

Reduced costs are making such interactive communications affordable and cost-effective for Latin American countries and many developing countries. The role of instruments was emphasized at the International Conference on Modern Preparation Response Systems for Earthquake, Tsunami, and Volcanic Hazard held earlier this year in Chile. In the opening address, Philippe Boulle, Director of the United Nations Secretariat for the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, stressed that the most effective approach to reducing losses is prevention. “There is an unfounded tendency to consider that the investigation to strengthen the existing infrastructure before disasters will cost much more than the cost of response after disasters. It is exactly just the reverse,” he said.