How Your Smartphone Could Signal an Oncoming Earthquake

A little warning could make a life-saving difference for Calfornians.

If you live in the Bay Area, there’s a good chance you got an unexpected wakeup call on January 4 courtesy of a 4.4 trembler just a couple miles southeast of Berkeley. While that one may hit you by surprise, four people got the heads up a few seconds before the shaking started. All thanks to a new app called QuakeAlert.

According to a story in Wired, “Two beta-testers who work at the University of California Berkeley received notifications—though only two and five seconds before feeling the quake. Two others, up near Sacramento but close enough to register intensities over 2.0, received push alerts a full 27 seconds before any noticeable tremors.

Developed by Santa Monica-based Early Warning Labs, QuakeAlert is one of the few ways Americans can get advance notice of an impending quake. While nations like Japan and Mexico already have early warning systems that send texts and siren blares out to citizens ahead of an impending quake, the US is still stuck in beta mode.”

Not to be confused with ShakeAlert, the early warning system created by the USGS, the QuakeAlert app is one application utilizing its data.

The free app won’t be available to the public until later this year, but you can get on a waiting list to get notified of its release. The notice may be short, but it could be enough to save lives.

Read about how big cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles are preparing for the next big quake here.

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