There are certain areas of the world that are prone to earthquakes. While these naturally occurring phenomena happen quite often, they can be very dangerous. To help facilitate real-time communication in the event of an earthquake, Google has created a public alert system.
In creating the infrastructure for this innovative system, Google started by finding the right partners. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Service (Cal OES) proved to be those partners. As a hotbed for earthquakes, California is the perfect place to test the new Android app, ‘ShakeAlert’. Developed by seismologists, ShakeAlert harnesses the information from over 700 seismometers across the state.
Though building this infrastructure around the world isn’t necessarily feasible, the ShakeAlert technology turns Android devices into seismometers. Eventually, this innovative app can enable millions of devices to blanket the globe with an earthquake detection network.
All smartphones are equipped with accelerometer functionality. This allows them to detect signals that may indicate earthquake activity. If the device senses a rumble that may be an earthquake it will send a signal to the earthquake detection server along with the location. The ShakeAlert server will match the data from these accelerometers with the data from other devices in the area to establish if it is indeed an earthquake. Thanks to ShakeAlert earthquake data will be transmitted in a matter of minutes.
Google will be able to display this information when users look up “earthquake near me”. This search will also bring up resources that explain what to do in the event of an earthquake. Google plans to use the data and experience from California to roll out the ShakeAlert system across other states. The tech giant’s goal is to spread this technology all over the world using Android devices, helping other countries that may not have the resources of the U.S.