A new app is sure to be a hit, especially since it could prove to be useful anytime soon. A team of scientists from California has released the MyShake app that is designed to turn a user’s smartphone into a mobile seismometer. The goal of the UC Berkeley scientists is to create a worldwide seismic detection network that can warn users of impending jolts from nearby quakes in the future, reports BBC.
The app is now available on Google Play Store. It runs on the background with little power, which enables the phone’s accelerometers record local shaking anytime of the day. To help test and improve its capabilities, the scientists wants users to download the said app.
So how does it work? According to Berkeley News, the current version of the app collects information from the accelerometers, analyzes it. If the “vibrational” profile fits that of a quake, the information is relayed together with the phone’s GPS coordinates to the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory for analysis.
According to App Project Leader, Berkeley Seismological Laboratory director, and Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences Chair Professor Richard Allen, the MyShake app “cannot replace traditional seismic networks like those run by the US Geological Survey, UC Berkeley, University of Washington and Caltech.”
Allen continues that they think that the MyShake app can make earthquake early warning faster and more accurate in areas that have a traditional seismic network. This can provide life-saving early warning in countries that don’t have one.
The lab operates a sensitive but widely spaced network of seismic sensors buried in vaults around Northern California. According to them, this crowd sourced seismic network can be today’s only option for earthquake prone developing countries like Nepal and Peru that have a sparse or close to none ground based seismic network or early warning system but does have millions of smartphone users.
UC Berkeley graduate student Qingkai Kong also adds his sixpence about the app saying that he thinks “this is a cutting edge research that will transform seismology.” Kong is the one who developed the algorithm that is the heart of the app.
Kong also said that the stations they have for traditional seismology are not that dense, especially in some regions around the world but they are using mobile phones with low-cost sensors that will give a really good dense network in the future.
Information Week reports that the app could be informative as it could provide users with information about recent quakes around the world. It can also provide info on some of the history’s biggest and most devastating seismic events.