Earthquakes can be quite predictable although there are many tell-tale signs before a major earthquake is about to hit the geographic region. If you wish there was something that would warn you if an earthquake is coming, here is a good news for you. There is an Android app that you can install on your smartphone that will tell you if an earthquake is coming.
The Android app, called MyShake (sounds like a milkshake ordering app) has been developed by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and it is available on Google Play Store for free.
MyShake uses the accelerometer in your phone combined with GPS to know if lots of shaking is happening at a particular location. Accelerometer is a part in your smartphone that adjusts your screen when you turn it sideways. It is also used in some games to know whether you are tilting your screen.
But what about the shaking that occurs when you’re walking or when you are running or even when you are in a car? The shaking that happens during an earthquake is different than other shakings.
The app will be able to tell you if an earthquake is coming, if you are away from the epicenter and the shock waves are still travelling. Of course hundreds of thousands of people need to install the app on their smartphones in order to create sufficient amount of data, especially those people who live near the prospective epicenter. The data will be picked where the earthquake is already happening, sent to the server, analysed (to know if it is an earthquake or something else) and then sent to other smartphones having the same app. For the app to give an accurate information about an earthquake, 300 smartphones need to be running the app in an area of roughly 4761 square miles.
The project leader Richard Allen says, “Currently, we have a network of 400 seismic stations in California, one of the densest in the world. Even if we get only a small fraction of the state’s 16 million mobile phones participating in our program, that would be a many-orders-of-magnitude increase in the amount of data we can gather.”
Why is the MyShake app available on Android and not iOS? The app needs to run in the background and when the researchers were working on the app, iOS wouldn’t allow apps to run in the background. Besides, many more people are using Android phones than iOS phone, so it would be easier to raise the numbers needed for the app to detect an earthquake accurately.