Earthquakes are a frightening concept, not least because they come without warning. When you discover that one happens often, it is often too late to cover. Now, Android phones are becoming earthquake detectors in hopes of giving you the few seconds you need to protect yourself.
Google launches its new discovery in phases. Due to the population̵7;s proximity to fault lines, California already has a “ShakeAlert” system in place. Powered by over 700 seismometers installed across the state, ShakeAlert already serves as an early warning system for the west coast.
Now Android phones can work with ShakeAlert, and earthquake notifications go directly to the phones. Google designed the message to be easy to read and shop; a wall of text does not decay when you need to act fast.
Unfortunately, not all earthquake-prone areas have a system for measuring them. So for other parts of the world, Google is turning your phone into an earthquake detection system. Phones have accelerometers built into them that can detect sudden movements. If your Android device thinks it detects an earthquake, it will send data to Google’s earthquake detection server.
That server retrieves data from many phones, thanks to the proximity of Android phones. It then compiles the data, tracks the earthquake and finds its center. To begin with, Google does not try to warn of earthquakes as much as learning about them and mapping affected areas.
The hope is to send out notifications with certainty, but in the beginning, Google must develop the technology. You can look up “earthquake near me” and relevant results and information on what to do after an earthquake. Google hopes to launch warnings to more states in countries in the coming year. The service is opt-in, you must activate it if you want to participate.