Feb 16, 2016 04:20 AM EST

Smartphone App Makes Sensing Earthquakes Possible

People need not worry anymore in detecting incoming earthquakes. All that is needed is an app installed on smartphones where before an earthquake strikes, the users of the phone gets a warning.

This app will enable them to seek the safest shelter in the nearest vicinity and thus avoid being pinned down by a large object, especially when inside a building. Injury and sometimes death can therefore be prevented.

University of California researchers in collaboration with Deutsche Telecom have recently announced that they have developed a new app called 'MyShake.' The good thing about this app is that it is absolutely free to download. It is available for Android smartphones and can be downloaded from the Google Play store.

The app uses the already built-in accelerometers in modern smartphones today to sense impending tremors.

"MyShake cannot replace traditional seismic networks, but we think MyShake can make earthquake early warning faster and more accurate in areas that have a traditional seismic network, and can provide life-saving early warning in countries that have no seismic network," Richard Allen said. He is the director of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory and the head of the app project.

'MyShake' cannot be used to replace on the ground seismographs because their results are not as accurate and professional. But they can still sense more than magnitude five from a distance of 10 kilometers. That is enough for people to take evasive action before the earth's roll reaches them.

The efficacy of this type of earthquake warning system has been proven in the Virginia earthquake in 2011 in the US East Coast. Those who were experiencing tremors tweeted it and the rollover spread. People several miles away got the tweets and moved seconds before the earthquake hit them.

"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," Allen added.

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