Truly groundbreaking technology.
Google recently announced plans, that are underway, to have an early earthquake detector system in Android phones. The system will be deployed first in California and will be able to offer warnings to the public right before an earthquake hits. Cool, right?
The new feature by Google will have sensors in smartphones that will collect readings for imminent tremors. It will be a ‘saved by the bell’ kind of situation, where the warning from the sensor will go off before an earthquake hits allowing users to take measures to protect themselves.
Google partnered with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the United States Geological Survey to have the earthquake alerts integrated into Android devices within the state. ShakeAlert, the new system, will power the alerts. Seismic data from more than 700 seismometers will be analyzed to determine preliminary magnitudes. The seismometers are installed in different places in California and they will provide estimates for areas that may have tremors.
You may be wondering, how good is Google’s system? Well, pretty good. The system does not need an app installation and if you choose to be part of the new program, your phone will act as a small seismometer for the Alerts system. There are millions of phones in different places today, and if Google goes ahead with their plans to extend the system around the globe, they could potentially build the world’s largest earthquake detection network.
Currently, California is the only state that has a network of seismometers set up . Android phones will come in handy, as they will be used as mini-seismometers. Through the accelerometers that are in Android phones, signals will be sent to the earthquake detection servers that have been set up to determine when an earthquake is about to happen.
According to Google, Android phones can detect both primary waves (P-wave) and secondary waves (S-wave). Wondering what the difference is? If a P-wave occurred, you wouldn’t feel it. It is the first wave to happen and it goes by so fast, as it is straight from the epicenter. An S-wave on the other hand, is one that you will not miss. It is larger, slower and will definitely leave more damage behind. Googles system is built in such a way that the Android phones will detect a P-wave and give an alert that an earthquake is oncoming.
Though Google has created a system that will allow people to prepare for an earthquake, it warns that the alert may not get to those near the epicenter of the earthquake in time. This is a limitation that they are still trying to tackle. An alert can only predict an earthquake about a minute before it happens, meaning that those who are close to the epicenter of the earthquake will not get the alert with enough time to react.
Users of Android phones will not need to upgrade their OS to access this feature. It will be directly integrated by Google Play Services making it available to a large majority of Android phones despite the version of Android OS on the device.