Google launched a feature back in 2020 that could allow Android phones to detect potential earthquakes. However, that feature was region-specific and wasn’t available in India until now. Google India has announced that residents of India will now be notified of earthquakes via their Android phones.
How does Android Earthquake Alerts feature work?
The Android Earthquake Alerts system was introduced back in 2020, and according to Google, it uses Sensors in Android smartphones to detect and estimate earthquakes. This feature has already been deployed in many countries around the world to provide people around the world with an early warning when earthquake shaking begins.
In India, Google is partnering with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the National Centre for Seismology (NCS), Ministry of Earth Sciences, to roll out the Earthquakes Alert feature in Android.
While explaining how the feature works, Google said that each Android smartphone has tiny accelerometers that can act as mini seismometers. When a phone is plugged in and charging, it can detect the very beginnings of earthquake shaking.
Now, Android phones then act in a collaborative effort where if many phones detect earthquake-like shaking around the same time, they send information to Google’s server which can use it to estimate that an earthquake may be happening. Not only that, but it can also identify the characteristics of the event – like its epicentre and magnitude.
Then, Google’s server can send alerts to phones in the area where the earthquake occurs. “Internet signals travel at the speed of light, much faster than the propagation of earthquake shaking through the ground, so the alerts often reach phones several seconds before severe shaking does”, said Google.
Further, Google says that its alerts are designed to be easy to read and follow, and are available in Indian languages supported by Android.
How to turn on Android Earthquake Alerts feature on your phone?
The Android Earthquake Alerts System is rolling out to all Android 5+ users in India during the coming week. To receive alerts, you should have Wi-Fi and/or cellular data connectivity, and Android Earthquake Alerts and location settings are enabled. Users who do not wish to receive these alerts can turn off Earthquake Alerts by going into device settings and then to the ‘Safety & Emergency’ menu.
The system also provides information through Google Search about local seismic events and safety measures when people search for information with queries like “Earthquake near me.”