Google has introduced a new earthquake alert system in India that aims to minimise damage by delivering real-time alerts about seismic activity to users.
Android users in India can now get alerts for earthquakes thanks to a new system launched by Google. The system uses the sensors in your phone like the accelerometer to sense an earthquake and warn you in advance.
The Android Earthquake Alerts System is already deployed in many countries across the world helping provide an early warning when earthquake shaking begins. But Google is now bringing it to India in consultation with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the National Seismology Center (NSC).
How it works
Google says that this system works by turning your phone into a mini earthquake detector, using the accelerometer as a seismograph.
When your phone is charging and not moving, it can sense the first signs of an earthquake. If many phones sense the earthquake-like shaking at the same time, Google’s server can figure out that an earthquake is happening, and where and how strong it is.
Then, Google’s server sends alerts to other phones nearby. Depending on the magnitude of the earthquake, the alerts are classified into two types. The first is the ‘Be Aware Alert’ which is sent out to users experiencing MMI 3 & 4 shaking during an earthquake of magnitude 4.5 or greater. The other is the ‘Take Action Alert’ which is sent out to users experiencing MMI 5+ shaking with a magnitude 4.5 or greater.
Stronger earthquakes bypass Do Not Disturb settings, turn the screen on, and play a loud sound. The alert also suggests actions a user can take for their safety, such as taking cover under a table.
“Internet signals travel at the speed of light, much faster than the propagation of earthquake shaking through the ground, so the alerts often reach phones several seconds before severe shaking does,” explains Google’s press release.
Google also says that they have been working with the NDMA to provide users useful information about other natural disasters like floods and storms on Google Search and Maps. You can find this information by searching for things like “Earthquake near me” on Google.
How to turn on Android Earthquake Alerts
The system will be available to all Android users in India who have Android 5 or higher in the next week.
To get alerts, you need to have internet connection and location settings on your phone. You also need to turn on the earthquake alerts setting. Here’s how you can do that: