Android phones now show earthquake alerts in Greece and New Zealand
In the middle of last year, Google announced that it was turning Android phones into an early earthquake alert system. The system was first deployed in California which already has a sophisticated network of seismometers in place. In California, the Android Earthquake Alerts System disseminated alerts from the existing ShakeAlert system, but in regions that don’t have seismometer networks, Google said that users could opt in to turn their Android phone into a mini seismometer. Today, Google has announced that Greece and New Zealand will be using the Android Earthquake Alerts System for both detection and alerting of earthquakes.
In a press release, Google says that Greece and New Zealand will be the first countries to have Android phones handle both detection and alerts from top to bottom. On Android phones with Google Play Services installed, the accelerometer will be used to sense when an earthquake might be happening. An earthquake detection server collects coarse location data from many Android devices in the region to determine if an earthquake is happening, where it’s happening, and what the magnitude is. An alert is immediately sent out to every Android device whose owner could be affected by the quake. Furthermore, the system also provides near-instant information to Google Search about local seismic events when users search “Earthquake near me.” Finally, Google says that users can opt-out of receiving earthquake alerts.
Although New Zealand and Greece are the first to use the Android Earthquake Alerts System from top to bottom, other regions will soon opt into the system to aid in sending out earthquake alerts. Following its use in California, Google says the feature recently expanded to users in the U.S. state of Oregon and will soon be rolling out to users in Washington next month. The company previously said it plans to open up an earthquake detection API but has not provided any further details as part of today’s announcement.