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From Earthquake-Prone Mexico, A Disaster Alert Start-Up Seeks To Serve America’s West

It's been a little over six months since the earthquake that devastated parts of central Mexico, and now a Mexican technology company is looking to expand its seismic alert systems to a new market: the western United States.

SkyAlert, an earthquake alarm and information smartphone application, was founded in 2014 in Mexico City and had about 3 million users by the time a 7.1-manitude earthquake devastated the city, said co-founder Alejandro Cantu. And how many more in the six months since?

"It pretty much doubled," Cantu said.

Cantu is now working with a start-up accelerator at the University of California at Berkeley, he said. He’d like to see his company provide services to people living near the tectonic plates along the Pacific Coast, particularly in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.

"The United States' situation with earthquakes is very similar to Mexico," Cantu said.   

It's a relatively unusual for a Mexican tech company to expand to the north instead of the other way around. But he hopes their experience here will help them there, he said.

"We really have an edge," Cantu said. But "it's going to be a fierce battle of what's faster and better to deploy the warnings and who's able to provide the service."

Jorge Valencia was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2016 to 2019.