Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Google’s Earthquake Alerts Shake Up Safety in India

In a significant move toward enhancing safety measures, Google has unveiled its groundbreaking earthquake alert system for Android devices in India. This innovative system harnesses the power of smartphone sensors, primarily accelerometers, effectively transforming Android smartphones into miniature seismometers capable of detecting tremors.

The initiative, announced by Google, represents a collaborative effort with India’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the National Seismology Center (NSC). The primary goal of this endeavor is to provide early earthquake alerts to Android users in regions prone to seismic activity. What sets this initiative apart is the localization of alerts, with notifications being delivered in local Indian languages, making vital information accessible to a broader audience.

Google’s earthquake alert system operates by sending two distinct types of alerts: “Be Aware” and “Take Action.” The “Be Aware” alerts are dispatched to users experiencing ground motion with an intensity ranging from MMI 3 to 4 during an earthquake measuring 4.5 magnitude or higher. These alerts manifest as on-screen notifications and do not emit any audible sounds, even if the user’s phone is set to “Do Not Disturb” mode or silenced.

However, when the earthquake’s ground motion reaches an intensity of MMI 5 or higher during a 4.5 magnitude or greater quake, the alert system takes a more assertive approach. In such cases, the alert will override the device’s notification settings, including “Do Not Disturb,” and play a loud, attention-grabbing sound. Additionally, the alert provides users with recommendations on safety measures to follow, such as seeking cover under a table or sturdy furniture.

Google’s system identifies potential earthquakes by monitoring seismic activity through a network of Android phones. Remarkably, these alerts often reach users several seconds before they feel the shaking, offering a crucial head start in situations where every moment counts.

This isn’t Google’s first foray into providing alerts for natural disasters in India. In 2020, the tech giant introduced Android Earthquake Alerts in California. To receive earthquake alerts, users need an Android device running version 5 or later and a connection to Wi-Fi or cellular data. Additionally, location settings must be enabled on their devices.

For Android users interested in activating earthquake alerts, the process is straightforward. They can access the feature through “Settings” > “Safety & emergency” and then select “Earthquake alerts.” Alternatively, users can enable earthquake alerts by navigating to “Settings” > “Location” > “Advanced” > “Earthquake alerts.”

Google’s commitment to safety extends beyond earthquake alerts. The company has already been providing AI-powered flood alerts throughout India, offering critical information to safeguard communities from flooding. This initiative commenced with a pilot program in Patna, the capital of the Indian state of Bihar, in 2018, and expanded to cover the entire nation in 2020.

With Google’s advanced technology and collaborative efforts with Indian authorities, these alerts are not just notifications; they are lifelines, helping communities stay safe and informed in the face of natural disasters.

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