American technology giant Google in consultation with India’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and National Seismology Center (NSC) introduced Android Earthquake Alert System in India on September 27. Deployed in many countries around the world before bringing it to India, the system is designed to provide people with an early warning when earthquake shaking begins. Details below:
What is Android Earthquake Alert System
The Android Earthquake Alert System uses sensors in Android smartphones to detect and estimate earthquakes. The system uses internet to send emergency alerts to Android devices in the area where severe ground waves may strike during an earthquake. The system also provides information on Google Search results about nearby seismic events and safety guidelines when individuals inquire about an earthquake in their area.
How does the Earthquake Alert System work
Most Android devices have accelerometer sensors built-in to detect the device orientation. These sensors act as mini seismometers. When a device is plugged-in and charging, this sensor enables the device to detect the very beginnings of earthquake shaking. If many devices detect earthquake-like shaking around the same time, Google’s server uses this information to estimate that an earthquake may be happening, as well as characteristics of the event – like its epicenter and magnitude. The system then sends alerts to nearby phones through the internet. Google said 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.
What are the types of alert notification
Google has two types of notifications designed for the Earthquake Alert System – ‘Be Aware’ alert and ‘Take Action’ alert. Both alert types are only sent for earthquakes of magnitude 4.5 or greater.
‘Be Aware’ notification is designed to alert individuals to light shaking. It provides more detailed information when the user taps on the notification. It works in line with the notification settings on a device complying with the set volume level on the smartphone.
‘Take Action’ alert is designed to get the user’s attention before they experience moderate to heavy shaking. It does not comply with the notification setting of every individual smartphone and turns on the display while playing a loud sound.
Tapping on either of the notifications opens up safety information with simple steps that an individual can take to minimise damage during an earthquake. It also gives a map of the earthquake location with the probable epicentre and the earthquake’s magnitude.
Who can use this system
In India, Google’s Earthquake Alert system will be available for Android users with devices based on Android version 5 (Lollipop) or above.
To receive an earthquake alert, the location service on the Android smartphone must be turned-on along with Wi-Fi or cellular data connectivity.
Users will also have the option to turn-off the alert notifications from device settings.