People in the Philippines had a rude awakening when a relatively strong earthquake struck them early Sunday morning. But some were actually woken up by their smartphone seconds before the earthquake due to a notification from their Android device. Android’s earthquake alert system was recently rolled out in seven countries, including the Southeast Asian country, and it has now proven effective in warning users that an earthquake is imminent. This system is scheduled to have a global launch sometime next year.
TO Reddit thread reported that several Android users received an alert a few seconds before the magnitude 6.7 earthquake, which is basically the purpose of this built-in alert system. Google wanted to create the “world’s largest earthquake detection network” using sensors and Android smartphone technology that are basically already available. And in this case, in the Philippines, it seems that the system is working effectively.
The alert / tool is automatically enabled on your Android smartphone and the system uses the device’s accelerometer to detect the initial P wave. It will then send a city-level location to the earthquake detection server. The reports will be verified before a notification is sent that includes a map, magnitude, and even earthquake drop, cover, and hold instructions. All of this happens (hopefully) before the possibly destructive S wave arrives.
People on the Reddit thread shared screenshots of the alerts they received. People said that seconds after receiving it, they felt the earthquake. Some might say that seconds won’t be enough to get you to safety, but at least people will notice and if you think fast, you can do something. The notification also has other reminders like checking gas, avoiding damaged buildings, etc.
The earthquake system was announced in August 2020 and has been launched in some countries. Over the next year, Google will make it available globally, or at least in places with wide availability of Android devices. Users can choose not to participate in the setup, but why would you, especially if you live in an earthquake-prone area?