Google has announced on Tuesday that Android phones will be used to sense earthquakes around the world.
“An early warning can help people prepare for shaking,” Google said on a blog post. But the public infrastructure to detect and alert everyone about an earthquake is costly to build and deploy.”
“We saw an opportunity to use Android to provide people with timely, helpful earthquake information when they search, as well as a few seconds warning to get themselves and their loved ones to safety if needed,” Google added.
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A Collaborative Effort
Android phones to track quakes; California gets alert system https://t.co/nrrSPodLzd
— 8News WRIC Richmond (@8NEWS) August 12, 2020
Google explained that they collaborated with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). They want to send earthquake alerts, powered by ShakeAlert®, directly to Android devices in California.
“This means your Android phone can be a mini seismometer, joining millions of other Android phones out there to form the world’s largest earthquake detection network,” the blog post reads.
Android users with enabled location services. They were located near a quake of magnitude 4.5 or greater will receive a warning.
“The screen also will provide estimates of the quake’s magnitude and distance from the user,” Fox Business reported.
Smartphones come with “tiny accelerometers” that are able to sense signals indicating that an earthquake might be happening. The phone then sends a signal to an earthquake detection server. The server will then combine “combines information from many phones to figure out if an earthquake is happening,” the blog post explains.
Fox Business explained that users won’t need to download the MyShake app to receive the alerts.
“This announcement means that California’s world-class earthquake early warning system will be a standard function on every Android phone — giving millions precious seconds to drop, cover and hold on when the big one hits,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom in a statement.
As for iPhone users, they won’t be receiving the alerts through their phone’s operating system. Instead, they can download the MyShake app.