In an official blog post, Marc Stogaitis, principal software engineer, Android, says that Google saw an opportunity to use Android “to provide people with timely, helpful earthquake information when they search, as well as a few seconds warning to get themselves and their loved ones to safety if needed.”
Google’s new feature will ensure that Android phones can be part of the Android Earthquake Alerts System anywhere in the world. Smartphones come with small accelerometers that can sense signals which indicate an earthquake might be happening. “If the phone detects something that it thinks may be an earthquake, it sends a signal to our earthquake detection server, along with a coarse location of where the shaking occurred,” explains Stogaitis in the blog post. Android phones, as per Google, can be mini seismometers, which when joined by millions of Android phones across the world could form the “world’s largest earthquake detection network.”
Google intends to use Search to make use of this technology. “To start, we’ll use this technology to share a fast, accurate view of the impacted area on Google Search. When you look up “earthquake” or “earthquake near me,” you’ll find relevant results for your area, along with helpful resources on what to do after an earthquake,” states Stogaitis in the blog post.
At the moment, the earthquake alerts will be sent in California only but over the coming year, you can expect to see the earthquake alerts coming to more states and countries using Android’s phone-based earthquake detection, notes Stogaitis. Google has collaborated with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to send earthquake alerts. This will be powered by ShakeAlert, which uses signals from more than 700 seismometers installed across the state of California.