Google does a lot of research. And if sometimes this research does not lead to a final product, it also happens that it can improve people’s daily lives, or even save lives.
For example, Google has developed software on Android that can detect earthquakes. In 2020, the firm began testing this software in California. The idea is to use the sensors in Android-based smartphones to predict earthquakes.
“All smartphones are equipped with tiny accelerometers that can detect signals that an earthquake might occur,” the firm explained in 2020. “If the phone detects something it thinks is an earthquake, it sends a signal to our earthquake detection server, along with an approximate location of where the earthquake occurred. The server then combines information from many phones to determine if an earthquake is occurring.” In essence, it’s crowdsourcing.
Crowdsourcing to detect earthquakes
As Google explains, in California, there are several hundred seismometers, already allowing this detection. However, such a device does not exist everywhere in the world. And that’s where Google wants to make a difference, since “a few seconds of warning can make a difference by giving you time to drop, cover and hold on before the shaking comes.”
Gradually, Google has been rolling out its earthquake detection mechanism to other countries, including the Philippines. This weekend, the Android feature was able to prove its effectiveness. As Reuters reports, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit the southern part of the Philippines’ capital very early on Saturday.
In the Philippines, users were warned by their Android smartphones
On Twitter, many Android users have been talking about the effectiveness of detection on Android. This user, for example, says he was amazed by the accuracy of Google’s emergency notifications. He said he read the notification and then felt the tremors 10 seconds later.
Another earthquake tweet here:
Im super amazed with how on point the phone emergency notif on Android earthquake alert system is.
– Ian m. (@ianmeji_) July 23, 2021
In his screenshot, the user also shows that in addition to notifying the user, the notifications also reminds us of the right thing to do in this type of situation.
As a reminder, earthquake detection on Android is installed by default in countries where it is available. After a deployment in the US, Google launched this feature in Greece and New Zealand in April. Then, in June, it arrived in Turkey, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
“We are prioritizing the launch of seismic alerts in countries with higher seismic risk, and hope to launch in more and more countries over the next year,” Google said, explaining the choice of countries.