Maybe your Android smartphone will save your life one day. Google has just announced that the Android smartphones of users around the world will be used to create an earthquake detection network.
Thanks to the tremors captured by the devices’ accelerometer, the firm will be able to determine if an earthquake is occurring in a specific area, in order to send alerts to notify other users located further from the epicenter and potentially affected by aftershocks.
A low-cost international alert network
Google is already working with the US Geological Monitoring Unit and the California Governor’s Office Emergency Services to send earthquake alerts to Android smartphone users. But sending these alerts is only possible now with ShakeAlert, a system that brings together data from more than 700 seismographs across the United States.
Unfortunately, due to its very high cost, installing this type of infrastructure would not be feasible in all areas of the world frequently affected by earthquakes.
To get around this problem, Google has just announced that Android smartphones can now be part of an earthquake alert system, regardless of where users are located. Using the device’s accelerometer, Google says it can detect signs suggestive of the imminent arrival of earthquakes.
Smartphones transformed into mini seismographs then send the information and its location back to Google’s earthquake detection servers, which, by combining all the data received, will be able to determine if an earthquake is occurring.
For now, Google offers users to view recent earthquakes by querying “earthquake” in the search engine.
Eventually, Google hopes to be able to extend its earthquake warning system, already in place in California thanks to the ShakeAlert network, to other countries, but this time using the earthquake detection system based on the accelerometer for Android smartphones.