Earthquakes are one of the most common natural disasters in the world, and an early warning can be pivotal in helping people prepare and get themselves and their loved ones to safety. That's why we’ve developed the Android Earthquake Alerts System, which uses sensors in Android smartphones to detect and estimate earthquakes. This is already deployed in many countries around the world to provide people around the world with an early warning when earthquake shaking begins.
Today, in consultation with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the National Centre for Seismology (NCS), Ministry of Earth Sciences, we’re introducing the Android Earthquake Alerts System in India. Through this launch, we strive to provide Android users automatic early warning alerts when there is an earthquake in their area.
Harnessing the Power of Android
Each Android smartphone is equipped with tiny accelerometers that can act as mini seismometers. When a phone is plugged in and charging, it can detect the very beginnings of earthquake shaking. If many phones detect earthquake-like shaking around the same time, our server can use this information to estimate that an earthquake may be happening, as well as characteristics of the event - like its epicenter and magnitude. Then, our server can send alerts to nearby phones. 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.
Our alerts are designed to be easy to read and follow, and are available in Indian languages supported by Android.
How to use the system
The Android Earthquake Alerts System1 is rolling out to all Android 5+ users in India during the coming week. To receive alerts, users must have Wi-Fi and/or cellular data connectivity, and both Android Earthquake Alerts and location settings enabled. Users who do not wish to receive these alerts can turn off Earthquake Alerts in device settings.
The system also provides information through Google Search about local seismic events and safety measures when people search for information with queries like “Earthquake near me.”
We hope to supplement the government’s efforts on earthquake alerts and provide people with the advance notice they need to stay safe. In India, we have been working closely with the NDMA to provide users with helpful safety information about natural disasters such as floods and cyclones on Google Search and Maps. We’re proud to further our association with the NDMA, along with the NCS, to bring the Android Earthquake Alerts system to India.
You can read more about how Android Earthquake Alerts work here.