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Google to turn Android devices into an earthquake detection network

Since there are millions of Android devices around the world, there are many ways to use these smartphones outside of our own personal uses. Google is now leveraging this vast network by integrating them with a global earthquake detection network that can give early warnings and seismic alerts to people, especially those who live in earthquake-prone areas. They are rolling out the first phase of this project and Android users can be part of the Android Seismic Alert System.

Smartphones come with tiny accelerometers that will be able to detect signals that indicate that an earthquake may be imminent or is already happening. If you go for this project and your phone detects a quake, it will send a signal to the earthquake detection server and include an estimated location of where it is happening. The server will then combine information from other phones and determine if an earthquake is actually happening.

The first step in this project is Google’s partnership with the United States Geological Survey and the California Office of Emergency Services. They will send earthquake alerts to Android users around the state using the ShakeAlert system which uses signals from over 700 seismometers. Even if this is only a warning of a few seconds, it can actually make a difference to those experiencing the tremors.

The next phase will directly involve Android devices. They will show localized results in Google searches based on data detected on Android smartphones. You can search for earthquakes or earthquakes near you and you will see relevant results. Basically, if you think you felt an earthquake, you can research whether or not you are right. Finally, when the accuracy of the system has already been well tested, the third phase is to send earthquake warnings and you will not need seismometer based warning systems.

The second and third phase will take a little longer, we will keep you posted on how that Android seismic alert system will progress. The end goal is always to be able to help the hundreds of millions of people who are near the earthquake fault zones.

Source: Android Community

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