Seconds Before a 6.2 Earthquake Rattled California, Phones Got a Vital Warning

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The moving-forward dept was posted by msmash on Thursday December 23, 2021.

Roughly half a million phones began to buzz in the moments before the earthquake struck the northern California coast. The US Geological Survey's early-alert system gave residents in the area time to take cover before the ground started to shake. The earthquake shook the area but caused no damage or injuries, and officials said it was an excellent test of the alert system. Since the system was rolled out across the west coast, it has been the largest magnitude earthquake. Some people said they got up to 10 seconds' warning before they felt shaking. "That's pretty darn good," said Robert de Groot, a ShakeAlert coordinators with the US Geological Survey.

ShakeAlert issues warnings through a number of agencies and apps, including the MyShakeApp, public wireless emergency alert systems, and the Android operating system, powered by Google. Within seconds, a data package is created from the information provided by the sensors. Even if you don't have an app on your phone, you will be notified if you download one of the alert apps. Affected individuals are told to cover and hold on. Extra seconds can save lives. ShakeAlert will be even better when the next big earthquake strikes because scientists and system operators were given an opportunity to test and improve it. We can run as many simulations and tests as we want but we will learn the most from real earthquakes. It's giving us the chance to use the system and learn how to alert people better.


Proactive monitoring leads to fewer systems experiencing issues or crashes, which leads to a 20% reduction in the number of tickets.

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