tech

Smartphone app to give earthquake warning

22 Comments

A smartphone app designed to give early warning of earthquakes could be ready as early as next year, according to scientists at the World Science Forum in Rio de Janeiro.

Researchers from the University of California showed off the project at a conference on how to use technology to ward off natural disasters.

The app is based on technology used in an early warning system prepared by a team under Professor Richard Allen, director of the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory.

California has already embraced the concept of an early warning network, with Governor Jerry Brown signing a bill in September mandating the creation of a system.

The smartphone app is capable of providing an alert between a few seconds and one minute before a tremor hits, depending on where an individual using it is in relation to the epicenter.

To do this, the app captures initial energy from the tremor, the so-called P wave or primary wave, which rarely itself causes damage.

The technology uses algorithms to detect rapidly when a quake is starting and determine its strength and location and when it is likely to reach its zenith and alert residents in potentially affected areas. The algorithms use data from regional networks monitoring seismic networks.

In the case of cell phones, those located at the actual epicenter of the quake will not receive the early warning.

But the tremors detected by the system will be transmitted in a chain to other receivers so that those a few kilometers away will be able to react to cloud-based data and glean more information on what is happening where and what is likely to happen next.

"All we need is a telephone at the epicenter of the quake which detects it and sends the information (saying) 'I felt a jolt, I am in this place' to a server," explained Allen.

"There are many phones simultaneously doing this to enable the server to determine the site and magnitude of the quake to send people further away a warning. These warnings include (information on) how much time to the start of the tremor and also its intensity."

The warning gives people precious time to seek out a secure place of refuge and halt industrial activity or transport, thereby reducing risk to the public at large.

The app uses various smartphone functions such as accelerometers and gyroscopes to determine movement, as well as GPS and Wi-Fi localization functions as well as a magnetometer to indicate direction.

The software makes use of the fact that there are 16 million smartphones in California alone and about one billion globally that are ever more interconnected.

The app will first be tested across a pool of several thousand users. Once it is fully rolled out it will be free via a coded access.

The biennial World Science Forum brings together scientists, educational institutions, non-governmental organizations and researchers to debate issues of science policy.

The main theme of this year's event was "Science for Global Sustainable Development."

© (c) 2013 AFP

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

22 Comments
Login to comment

Ummm...there already is one, has been there since BEFORE 3.11, called Yurekuru

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Yes, I don't get it either. My dumb phone also has the early warning alarm.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There has also been "Namazu" , which does the same, and has been around since at least 2010.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

and for all you 'Apple' lovers above, its come with DoCoMo phones as standard since February 2008. No app required on non-smartphones. Yurkekuru and Namazu are both behind the EEW standard in any case and therefore, useless.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

It seems the big difference is that the phones themselves will be reporting back using internal sensors and accelerometers. That could really help determine what occurred and generate invaluable data.

I don't think they should restrict the alert function to keep from informing those at the epicenter. I find it very worthwhile to instantly know the magnitude and location regardless of how far away it is.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

theResident: "and for all you 'Apple' lovers above, its come with DoCoMo phones as standard since February 2008."

Ummm... it is the same with smartphones, iPhones included. I can't tell you how many times I've been woken up this year by earthquake and typhoon warnings. At least they changed the tone so it's not quite as freaky. This is a good idea for nations whose phones don't already have earthquake warnings built in, but not necessary here.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

ummm smith - only came with a revision of ios 6 last year.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

theResident: "ummm smith - only came with a revision of ios 6 last year."

Ummm... and now exists. What's your point? Docomo also sells iPhones, by the way, you know... since they've been losing customers by not doing so since 2008. :)

1 ( +4 / -3 )

My point was there was a world before Yurekuru - which sadly until 3.11, sadly most of the liberal, japan bashers who inhabit this website were not aware of. Yourself included, old chap.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Smartphones should issue a warning that their users' brains are turning to mush.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

So is this any different from the system that gave me a false warning on a big earthquake in Nara?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yurkekuru and Namazu are both behind the EEW standard in any case and therefore, useless.

Umm, how are they useless? 5 seconds before an earthquake hits, it sounds. It helped me ALOT while I was living in Fukushima during the 3:11 I got woken up numerous times and it enabled me to leave my home just as a massive aftershock hit

and you say its useless? lol

1 ( +1 / -0 )

theResident: "My point was there was a world before Yurekuru - which sadly until 3.11, sadly most of the liberal, japan bashers who inhabit this website were not aware of. Yourself included, old chap."

No, your point was to bash Apple users. I never said a thing about Yurekuru, 'old chap'. You guys and your "J-basher" crap make absolutely no sense. I'm a "J-basher" because I like Apple now and pointed out that Docomo sells it? That's beyond bizarre. And the fact that you throw in "liberals who are unaware until now" pretty much makes all of your comments irrelevant.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

theResident and for all you 'Apple' lovers above, its come with DoCoMo phones as standard since February 2008. No app required on non-smartphones. Yurkekuru and Namazu are both behind the EEW standard in any case and therefore, useless.

Um.. No app required? What do you think that little "app" thing on your phone is? An app.... lol

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yeah, and it has sister app that predicts rainbows and they are working on another one that locates unicorns.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I called it Yurekita. Because mine only gives me alerts after the quakes.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I think Japan's disaster monitoring system is most advanced in the world. It is a matter of course that Indonesia decided to introduce Japan's quake,tsunami alert system.

Why California does not introduce Japan's EEW? I'm sorry,your system is far inferior as compared with Japan's it. please use better system for protect the safety of citizens. I think Japan's system should be global standard...

If you can understand Japanese,check these Realtime ground motion monitoring system.

http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fc2.web.kyomoniex

http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.hirozo.KiKNetViewPkg&hl

http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.co.nscjapan.signalnow

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nied4maps-ii

http://www.kmoni.bosai.go.jp/new/

http://www.seis.bosai.go.jp/

Don't panic,Earthquakes occur hundreds of times per day. http://kwatch.web.fc2.com/epicenterList/

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Cortes Elijah: As I said, pre-smartphones there was NO App - the warning was pushed to the phone automatically. So, No, there was no 'app' thing on the phone..lol/

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

" Yurkekuru and Namazu are both behind the EEW standard in any case and therefore, useless."

Poo-poo them if you like, but Namazu saved my skin on 3-11 and several times since. My old galapogos phone also had a similar appli.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Out of respect, i will assume you live in Miyagi Jean ValJean.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

" Out of respect, i will assume you live in Miyagi Jean ValJean."

You know the saying about assuming...

My point is that this article is about nothing new.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Than I fail to see how it 'saved your skin'

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites