In cases of earthquakes, an early warning can help people prepare for shaking, but the public infrastructure to detect and alert everyone about an earthquake is costly to build and deploy
Google has been rolling out a new feature that aims to alert users about earthquakes instantly. The tech giant started rolling out the new earthquake alert feature to Android devices in the month of April for a select few countries. Now, the company is extending the list of countries.
In cases of earthquakes, an early warning can help people prepare for shaking, but the public infrastructure to detect and alert everyone about an earthquake is costly to build and deploy. Google plans to use the wide network of Android devices 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.
Using this feature, Android phones can be part of the Earthquake Alerts System. Android phones can be a mini seismometer, joining millions of other Android phones out there to form the world’s largest earthquake detection network.
All smartphones come with tiny accelerometers that can sense signals that indicate an earthquake might be happening. If the phone detects something that it thinks may be an earthquake, it sends a signal to Google’s earthquake detection server, along with a coarse location of where the shaking occurred. The server then combines information from many phones to figure out if an earthquake is happening.
Even when users look up “earthquake" or “earthquake near me," they will find relevant results for their area, along with helpful resources on what to do after an earthquake. Users who do not wish to receive these alerts can turn this off in device settings.
In the first phase of rollout, Google introduced the Android Earthquake Alerts System in Greece and New Zealand. Last week, Google launched the feature in Turkey, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The company is trying to roll out the feature at a faster pace in countries that record more frequent earthquakes.