Can you survive an earthquake if you get a 40- second lead time about an incoming seismic activity? At least a team of researchers at University of California think so.
The team has released an Android app, My Shake, that can sense an incoming earthquake and warn users 40 seconds in advance. The app uses the smartphone’s accelerometer to detect seismic activity in your region.
It’s aimed at providing location-specific warnings to users with the help of their smartphones. Researchers say users are notified about 40 seconds before shaking starts. According to the research, a standard smartphone can detect an earthquake within a magnitude of 5.0 if it’s within 10 kilometres.
“MyShake cannot replace traditional seismic networks like those run by the US Geological Survey, UC Berkeley, the University of Washington and Caltech, but we think MyShake can make earthquake early warning faster and more accurate in areas that have a traditional seismic network, and can provide life-saving early warning in countries that have no seismic network,” said Richard Allen, the lead app developer.
Allen further noted that the app has the potential to speed up the quake alert system which could be particularly useful in countries prone to earthquakes such as Nepal and Peru.
“They don’t have advanced seismic technology but they do have millions of cell phones,” he said adding that they have currently released an Android version of the app as most of the phones are running Google’s mobile operating system. An iPhone version is also planned in the near future.