Google has introduced a new earthquake alert system for Android smartphones in India, offering early warnings in the event of seismic activity. The Android Earthquake Alerts System utilizes sensors present on Android devices to detect earthquakes and estimate their intensity. This feature, already available in some other countries, is now being rolled out in India and has been developed in consultation with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the National Centre for Seismology (NCS).
In a blog post, Google announced that it is providing automated early warning alerts to Indian Android users in case of an earthquake in their vicinity. The earthquake alert system utilizes the accelerometers in smartphones, effectively turning them into “mini seismometers.”
Google explained, “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.”
Google’s servers will then push out alerts to phones in the affected area. Since internet signals travel much faster than seismic waves, users will receive rapid alerts on their phones before significant shaking occurs. Google also confirmed that the earthquake alerts will be available in Indian languages supported by Android.
Google elaborated on its earthquake alert system on its crisis response page, describing it as the world’s largest earthquake detection network, using over two billion Android phones as mini-seismometers to detect vibrations and shaking and notify Android users accordingly.
In the event of an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.5 or greater, Google sends out two types of alerts: the “Be Aware” alert and the “Take Action” alert. The “Be Aware” alert serves as a warning for light shaking, providing more information when tapped. It respects the user’s volume, Do Not Disturb (DND), and notification settings. The “Take Action” alert is meant to warn users before they experience moderate to heavy shaking. This alert overrides DND settings, activates the screen, and emits a loud noise to get the user’s attention.
To receive these alerts, users must have an Android smartphone running Android 5 or later, with Wi-Fi or cellular data connectivity enabled. Users should also enable both Android Earthquake Alerts and location settings. The new alert system is being rolled out to all eligible Android users in India this week.