Tech giant, Google is one of few corporate bodies that can be said to be the very embodiment of constant innovation and creativity, always on the run for better features and regular upgrades and updates. With periodic updates being rolled out for the Android operating software, there seems to be another update that is in the works, which may be rolled out in the near future. According to recent reports, Google is all ready and set to imbibe earthquake alerts into Android devices, turning Android into a global network for giving out earthquake alerts, in a bid to reduce loss to life and property, as much as possible. What’s more is that the first phase was already rolled out very recently!
Powered by an earthquake early warning (EEW) system, ShakeAlert, alerts were sent to Android users living in California, with further help from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES).
To put the EEW system simply, it basically senses and looks out for shakes and tremors that come once an earthquake has begun. Moreover, the EEW system used for the Android feature i.e. the ShakeAlert was designed and developed by studying data and signals from over 700 seismometers that have been installed throughout the region of California by a number of institutions and organisations including the USGS, California Governor’s OES, University of California Berkeley as well as the California Institute of Technology. There are two types of alerts that are being worked on. One is the ‘Take Action’ alert that is a full screen loud alert to draw attention in case of strong tremors being anticipated; the other being ‘Be Aware’ alert that provides a softer warning in case of lighter tremors being expected.
Android devices have inbuilt accelerometers that can sense earthquake tremors and the device will be a part of a large network of similar mini seismometers, which are other Android devices scattered across the globe, always keeping an eye out for tremors, becoming a part of the Android Earthquake Alert System. Upon detection of any tremors, a signal is sent back to the Google server with a rough estimate of the location of said tremor. The server aggregates such signals from multiple Android devices to determine the occurrence of any earthquake and its magnitude. In case of an earthquake, a signal is further related to Google search that notifies the user of the same.
Once Google has fully developed the system, ironed out kinks and has a good accuracy themselves, they may also actively and directly send out alerts and warnings themselves to people living in the area of effect. This is truly a potentially life saving feature that we can only marvel at, which opens up further opportunities for development on the same.