Google turns Android phones into earthquake sensors

Platform Industry: Google News

Google’s Android mobiles have started discovering earthquakes around the globe to provide data that could give countless users valuable seconds of warning of a tremor nearby, using an alerting feature first rolling out in California.

Japan, Mexico and the US state of California already use land-based sensors to create warnings, aiming to lower accidents and property damage by providing people further away from the epicentre of an earthquake more time to protect themselves until the shaking starts.

If Google’s strategies for discovering and alerting establish effective, warnings could reach more people, including for the first time Indonesia and other developing countries with few conventional sensors.

Seismology specialists consulted by Google said turning smartphones into mini-seismographs marked a significant advancement, despite the inevitably of incorrect alerts from a work in progress, and the dependence on a private firm’s algorithms for public security.

Google’s program emerged out of a week-long session 4-1/2 years ago to check whether the accelerometers in mobiles could detect car crashes, earthquakes and tornadoes, said chief software engineer Marc Stogaitis.

Accelerometers – detectors that measure force and direction of movement – are mainly utilised to ascertain if a consumer is holding a phone in landscape or portrait mode.

Related Article:
US state attorneys general likely to bring antitrust lawsuits against Google

The business studied historic accelerometer readings during earthquakes and discovered that they could give some users up to a minute of sight.

Android phones can now separate earthquakes from vibrations caused by thunder or the apparatus dropping only when the unit is charging, stationary and contains consumer consent to share information with Google.

If mobiles detect an earthquake, they ship their city-level place to Google, which may triangulate the epicentre and gauge the size with as few as several hundred accounts, Stogaitis stated.

The system won’t operate in areas including China in which Google’s Play Services applications is blocked.

Google expects to issue its first alarms based on accelerometer readings following year. Additionally, it plans to feed alarms for free to companies looking to automatically shut off elevators, gas lines and other systems until the shaking starts.

To examine its alerting skills, Google is drawing in California from conventional government seismograph readings to alert Android users about earthquakes, like notifications about kidnappings or flood.

Those further away would find a smaller notification designed to not stir them from their sleep, while individuals too near to be warned will get info regarding post-quake safety, like checking gas valves.

Related Article:
US lawmakers question Google about collection of health records

Alerts will activate for earthquakes magnitude 4.5 or higher, and no program download is essential.

MyShake, an program launched by Allen’s Berkeley laboratory last year to provide Californians warnings and allow them to report harm, has attracted 1 million downloads.

Apple wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed the ‘Google turns Android phones into earthquake sensors‘ article. Initial reporting via our content partners at Reuters. Reporting by Paresh Dave. Additional reporting by Nathan Frandino. Editing by Sonya Hepinstall.

To stay on top of the latest developments across the platform economy and gain access to our problem-solving tools and content sets, you can become a member for just $7 per month.

Share this article