The recent extraordinary events in the Indian Ocean have awakened the world to the hazards presented by tsunami. While there are extensive tsunami warning systems available for the Pacific Ocean, the tsunami warnings from the International Tsunami Information Center were not disseminated quickly enough to prevent massive loss of life, because no warning communications infrastructure was available in the eleven countries affected by the tsunami of 2004 December 26.
This is from the Project Overview entry of the Open Tsunami Alert System (OTAS) Wiki.
OTAS was inspired by a column by Robert X. Cringely. He said:
We don’t need governments and huge sensor arrays to warn people on the beach about the next huge wave approaching at 400 miles-per-hour. Thanks to the Internet, we can probably do it by ourselves.
Because of the public availability of raw seismic data, this really is doable. I think the OTAS people are going to prove it.
Cringely posted an update on Jan. 14 (after the Microsoft stuff).