Last month, Google unveiled the Android Earthquake Alerts System and briefed about the building of the world’s largest earthquake detection network. This earthquake detection and alerts system turns the smartphones into mini seismometers in your pocket. We already briefed about the new Android features, including the Earthquake Alerts System from Google last month. Recently Google shared a visualization of what the Android phones detected during the last night’s earthquake in Los Angeles.
Dave Burke, who is the VP Engineering at Android, tweeted a video moments after the earthquake showing the map of Los Angeles and the surrounding area. Yellow-colored dots representing the P-waves appeared first, followed by the red dots for the S-wave. The expected locations of the P-waves and the S-waves appear in the radiating concentric circles.
How Does Android Earthquake Alerts System Work
As per Google, the device first detects the initial wave using the accelerometer present in the smartphone and then sends the signal along with its location to the earthquake detection server of Google. The server then combines information from many other phones in the area to check if an earthquake is happening.
Google compiles the data in real-time with the speed of light that is roughly the speed at which signals travel from the phone. The company currently does not use this system to send alerts but rather displays a card in the search results when a user types queries related to earthquakes. The card asks the user if he felt shaking or not.
However, Google uses the data from the ShakeAlert system from the United States Geological Survey and California to send alerts. The tech giant integrated the early warning ShakeAlert system in August this year. This system successfully sent “Earthquake nearby” notifications to the Android phones of users in Los Angeles and nearby areas to expect shaking. The alert notification also displayed the expected magnitude of the earthquake and how far the tremor was from them. After tapping the notification, it opened a card-based feed of some useful information and a map of the user’s location from the epicenter.
By the next year, Google may start using its own earthquake alert system to alert smartphone users. Hopefully, users can then get alerts even before the earthquake reaches them. The company is already working on this.