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Suddenly, spotlight on earthquake entrepreneur

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The technology, which was developed by scientists in Canada, was brought to market by Dickson, a serial entrepreneur, when he founded SWS in 2001.

“I come from a long line of entrepreneurs,” Dickson said. “My father was an entrepreneur; my grandfather was an entrepreneur.” So far, Dickson has funded the company entirely with his own money and with help from family, friends and small private investors.

The QuakeGuard system on which SWS was founded differs from other earthquake detection technologies because it provides the user with a different kind of information, Dickson said. The sensors in QuakeGuard 300 pick up the earliest shock waves generated by an earthquake, called “P-waves.” These waves arrive before the larger shock waves that cause the most serious damage in an earthquake.

“We approached the P-wave earthquake early warning challenge from the end-user perspective," Dickson said. "Our focus, and our technology, focuses on the intensity of an earthquake rather than the magnitude, which is more relevant to the business and/or facility we are protecting.We then wanted to ensure we’re making the detection of a significant event actionable, which required the ability to control equipment and/or warn occupants. Finally, of course, we had to be sure the system was reliable and did not have false activations and it has to be fast.”

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