GOOGLE launched a new, free smartphone feature known as the Android Earthquake Alerts System, available in the Philippines and globally.
The alerts system can detect seismic activity in the area using the built-in accelerometers in active Android smartphones. Device notifications can then provide early warning alerts for when an earthquake is detected.
“Launching the Android Earthquake Alerts System in the Philippines is part of our mission to bring helpful products and services to Filipinos,” said Bernadette Nacario, the Country Director of Google Philippines. “Our country, located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, is prone to natural calamities and this update will play an important role in disaster preparedness and risk reduction.”
To confirm the validity of seismic occurrences, the device sends a signal to Google’s earthquake detection server, along with a coarse location of where the shaking occurred. The server will then take information from multiple phones to analyze if an earthquake really is happening, where it is, and its corresponding magnitude.
In addition to getting a device notification, which people can turn off in settings if they wish, Google Search will also be able to alert people. Since the search engine receives near-instant information from the system, people who look up “earthquake” or “earthquake near me,” they will receive relevant results, along with helpful resources on what to do after an earthquake.
TWO TYPES OF ALERTS
The Android Earthquake Alerts System displays two types of alerts on mobile devices, depending on the magnitude and intensity of the earthquake.
Be Aware alerts people when earthquakes with a magnitude of 4.5 occur, which is an intensity level of 3 or 4 on the modified Mercalli intensity (MMI) scale. The notification comes with the distance of the phone from the earthquake’s epicenter. The alert uses the phone’s current volume, vibration, and Do Not Disturb settings.
Take Action is a more urgent, full-screen alert for earthquakes with a magnitude over 4.5, which is an intensity level of 5 and up on the MMI scale. To help people prepare for potential heavy shaking, full-screen instructions are shown and the phone plays a loud sound.
“Our smartphones are indispensable in moments of crisis. We believe Android devices can help people be prepared and stay connected in times of need,” said Ms. Nacario of Google Philippines, “We will continue to partner with the government, public safety officials, and leading crisis response experts to better surface relevant information in times of adversities,“
The Android Earthquake Alerts System was first introduced in New Zealand and Greece. It is available now in more countries including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Philippines, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
To see if the alerts are turned on on an Android device, go to Settings > Location > Advanced > Earthquake Alerts.