Google To Preinstall Earthquake Warning Tech in Android Phones


California's early-warning system for earthquakes will now be automatically installed on Android phones, Google and Gov. Gavin Newsom announced today.

“It's not every day that Silicon Valley looks to state government for state-of-the-art innovation, but that's exactly what is happening today,'' Newsom said. “This announcement means that California's world-class Earthquake Early Warning System will be a standard function on every Android phone -- giving millions precious seconds to drop, cover and hold on when the big one hits.''

Last October, Gov. Newsom introduced the nation's first statewide Earthquake Early Warning System, which combined a new smartphone application known as "MyShake" with other types of delivery methods.

Android phones will rely on the same data feed to receive and distribute alerts in advance of an earthquake - which should help those far from the epicenter to seek shelter before the shaking gets to them.

The computerized program called ShakeAlert, is operated by the Governor's Office of Emergency Services and the U.S. Geological Survey, and analyzes data from seismic networks in California, calculates preliminary magnitudes. That data is then used to estimate where shaking will be felt.

The technology has already been used successfully in other earthquake-prone areas, such as Mexico and Japan. Alerts in those countries are typically delivered through cell phones and other public alert systems. California is the first U.S. state to use the program for early earthquake warnings.

People's nerves have been shaken lately after a 4.2 magnitude quake struck the Los Angeles area last month and another swarm of quakes were reported in the Salton Sea area on Monday.

Last year's state budget included $16.3 million in onetime funding to complete development of the system, including seismic stations installation, adding GPS stations to the network, improving telemetry and launching an education campaign. The governor's budget this year includes an additional allocation of $17.3 million, supported by a onetime loan of the same amount from the School Land Bank Fund, for full operation and maintenance of the system.

The early warning application can be downloaded at www.earthquake.ca.gov, where more information is available on earthquake preparedness.

Photo: Getty Images


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