Google is turning your android phone into a mini seismometer to detect earthquakes and save lives.

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Google has come up with a novel system to detect earthquakes and send an alert to all the people in that locality. Basically Google turns every android phone into a mini seismometer that can be used to predict earthquakes.

Earthquakes happen around the world. Few earthquakes are severe enough to cause huge losses to the lives of people as well as property. An early warning can help people prepare for it in advance. But building an exclusive earthquake detection system is costly. I would call this project of turning the android phone into a mini seismometer an excellent and practical use of ‘crowdsourcing’. This means that once a user opts in to this program his/her android phone is used to predict earthquakes and reduce the casualties caused due to the earthquake.


Earthquake alerts to Android devices in California.

Google collaborated with the United States geological survey (USGS) and California Governor’s Office of emergency services (Cal OES) to send earthquake alerts directly to their android phones. This is powered by ShakeAlert, a system that is developed by renowned seismologists. This ShakeAlert system relies on 700 seismometers installed across the state by USGS, Cal OES, University of California Berkeley, and California Institute of technology.

But this process of installing a ground network of seismometers may not be feasible in all the impacted regions of the world. Seismometers are costly and this process of installing a network of seismometers further increases he cost. Google came up with a novel way to solve this challenge.

How Google turns your android phone into a mini seismometer?

Your Android Phone has a sensor called accelerometer. This accelerometer can detect signals that can indicate an earthquake might be happening. If your Android phone detects a signal that it thinks might be an earth quake, it sends a signal to Google’s Earthquake detection server along with the location where shaking occured. The server receives information from other Android phones from the same area. Google’s earthquake detection server then processes and combines the data to figure out if an earthquake is really happening.

Turning Android phone into a mini seismometer. Google's earthquake alert system on Android phone.
Credits: Google

Google made a funny yet true pun on this idea:

We’re essentially racing the speed of light (which is roughly the speed at which signals from phone travel) against the speed of an earthquake. And lucky for us, the speed of light is much faster! 

Asset3 nocaption 1 Google is turning your android phone into a mini seismometer to detect earthquakes and save lives.
Credits: Google

Google said in a blog post that they will use this technology to share a fast, accurate view of the impacted area on Google Search. Alert will also give you a few important guidelines to follow during an earthquake.

This means your Android phone can now be a mini seismometer, joining millions of other Android phones out there to form the world’s largest earthquake detection network. 

When is Android based earthquake detection coming to my area?

Google stated that they are going to start with Earthquake alert system in California. Over the coming year, Google plans to expand this Android based earthquake prediction system to more states and countries like India etc.

Watch this video to understand this concept:

Also read: Why is Jio internet cheap and why is it winning the telecom war?

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