Earthquakes are a frightening concept, not least because they occur without warning. When you find out something is happening, it is often too late to take cover. Now Android phones are becoming earthquake detectors in hopes of giving you the few seconds it takes to protect yourself.
Google is gradually introducing its new detection. In California, due to the proximity of the population to fault lines, a “ShakeAlert” system already exists. ShakeAlert is powered by over 700 seismometers installed across the state and is already serving as an early warning system for the west coast.
Now Android phones can work with ShakeAlert, and notifications of an earthquake are sent straight to the phones. Google designed the notification to be easy to read and edit. A wall of text is not required if you need to act quickly.
Unfortunately, not all seismic areas have a measurement system. For other parts of the world, Google is turning your phone into an earthquake detection system. Phones have built-in accelerometers that can detect sudden movements. When your Android device thinks it detects an earthquake, it sends data to Google’s earthquake detection server.
This server pulls data from many phones thanks to the ubiquity of Android phones. Then the data is compiled, the earthquake is tracked and the epicenter is found. First, Google does not try to warn of earthquakes, but gets to know them and maps affected areas.
Hope is on the way to confidently send out notifications, but in the beginning Google needs to keep developing the technology. You can search for “earthquakes near me” as well as relevant results and information on what to do after an earthquake. Google hopes to be able to notify more states in countries in the coming year. The service is activated. You have to activate it if you want to participate.