Google has announced the introduction of an earthquake warning system on Android devices. The company believes that Android smartphones can act as mini seismometers.
This new feature is already being tested in California, where Android smartphones will receive first-hand information in the event of an earthquake. These alerts could save millions of lives around the world.
The system relies on accelerometers built into all smartphones to detect signals of an earthquake. If the phone detects an earthquake, it sends a signal to a dedicated Google server, along with a coarse location of where the shaking occurred. The server then combines the information received from multiple Android phones to understand if an earthquake is actually taking place.
“To start, we’ll use this technology to share a fast, accurate view of the impacted area on Google Search. When you look up “earthquake” or “earthquake near me,” you’ll find relevant results for your area, along with helpful resources on what to do after an earthquake.” — explains in the official blog post.
Google first partnered with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the California Governor’s Emergency Office (Cal OES) to bring earthquake alerts to Android users in California. The alerts are generated by the state’s existing ShakeAlert system, which uses signals from over 700 seismometers installed in the state.
Over the next few years, Google plans to bring this system to other areas of the United States and the rest of the world.