Google on 11th August 2020 has announced about their development of a new feature that would alert all the Android users regarding an earthquake before it takes place.

Earthquakes are a daily issue we face mostly in an earthquake-prone zone. It affects millions of people living in there within seconds. It can be reduced by advanced detection of the same. The existing methods are costlier enough and most of the time do not reach needy on time. It requires a cost-effective method to safeguard a larger number of people from this natural disaster by making an alert before it happens.

The company has informed about its new feature in a blog post. This feature in an Android Phone will provide you timely and helpful information about the earthquake and also send alerts before an earthquake occurs. 

By this feature, you will be able to keep yourself and your families safe from the natural calamity if you have one in your hand. Moreover, Google has informed that the feature has already been implemented amongst Android phones in California.

The accelerometer in your Android phone will be a data point for an algorithm that has been prepared to detect earthquakes. With times, the system will automatically send warnings to the Android users who are likely to be impacted by the earthquake in the way.

The new feature works through Google’s strengths. The astonishing numbers in Android phones located in different parts of the world and the smart use of algorithms on big data help the company to finally launch the feature.

In addition to all these, Google's collaboration with Apple regarding exposure tracing, car crash detection, and emergency location services have helped the company a lot in this project to make it a successful one. Now, smartphones are can be used for more than just calling and browsing.

Now, a timely warning on your Android phone can help you in preparing before the earthquake.

Google is implementing its new feature in small steps. 

In the beginning, Google made a partnership with the United States Geological Survey and the California Office of Emergency Services to send the agencies’ earthquake alerts to Android users within their state. 

Such alerts are created by the present ShakeAlert system that uses data made by traditional seismometers.


Marc Stogaitis, principle Android software engineer at Google, later added that seismometers are extremely expensive, therefore, it is not possible to get earthquake alerts from seismometer-based systems everywhere.

The second and third stages of Google’s plan will be powered by Android phones only.

In the second stage, Google will show results from a certain place in Google searches for earthquakes. It will be based on the data which Android is detecting from their phones. This is based on the idea that when one feels an earthquake and search about it on Google, at such time Google has the hint and it in turn does alert its other users about the happening of an earthquake.

Now, in the third stage, when Google has more confidence regarding the results of the system, it may start sending its users' earthquake warnings in that particular area.

The information collected as part of this program is “de-identified” from users and such information Google needs “coarse” location information for their feature to establish only. These two data: the earthquake alerts and the detection system are opt-in. You can call these data as mini seismometers. Here the data is collected is related to, "From where one is searching" and not “Who is searching".

An Android phone is likely a “mini seismometer” as it holds an accelerometer, which can detect if the user has rotated it or not. This system uses the data to understand if the phone is really shaking or not. It can be seen only when an Android phone is plugged in and not in use.

Google's Android Smartphones are capable to detect earthquake waves. When an earthquake wave moves, one Android is capable enough to detect it.

Marc Stogaitis said that each phone is able to detect that something like an earthquake is happening. To get a proper result about the happening of an earthquake one needs an aggregate of phones to know the same vibration at the same point of time.


The primary wave (P wave) is regarded as the first and fastest wave found from the epicenter of an earthquake. The secondary wave (S wave) is relatively slower but it can be much bigger than the P wave. And Google’s system is able to detect both. Generally, we do not feel the P wave as it never remains more than second. The S wave is much stronger and causes much damage. We should understand here that the P wave tells us to prepare for the S wave.

The collected data is processed afterward in the Classic Google fashion. This means that the algorithms on the aggregated data from thousands of phones from the very place are used to determine whether an earthquake is actually happening or not. As the traditional seismometers are very expensive and precise, the Android phones are cheap and more in number.

Even Google can use Bayesian filters amongst other algorithms to switch those numbers into earthquake data which are good enough to send warning alerts to the users.

Google also announced that if a region has an existing earthquake detection and warning system, then it would be preferable to use that existing system and the phone-based system is just an advanced technology need not be used in that particular area.

By this method, Google is going to help hundreds of millions of people in the world who are living near earthquake-prone zones.

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