What you need to know
- Google is expanding its earthquake detection and alert system to more states and countries outside California.
- The feature is expanding to Washington State after recently coming to Oregon.
- New Zealand and Greece are the first countries outside the U.S. to receive the new system.
Last year, Google launched the Android Earthquake Alerts System, which utilizes the best Android phones "to form the world's largest earthquake detection network." The system was created with the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), and ShakeAlert to send earthquake alerts to smartphones and help keep people safe. The service was only available in California but is expanding to both New Zealand and Greece, where earthquakes can be quite common and dangerous.
Google's system uses the accelerometer in your smartphone to act as a mini seismometer to pick up any changes in the earth. If it thinks an earthquake occurred, it'll send a signal and approximate location to Google's servers which will crowdsource data from many different Android devices to help pinpoint not only if an earthquake is happening but where it's occurring. Android users will also receive immediate alerts if an earthquake is detected, which could give them time to find cover and protect themselves and their loved ones.
The best part is that even the best cheap Android phones can help detect an earthquake since accelerometers are found in just about every smartphone. And if you have a Pixel device like the Google Pixel 5, you can use the personal safety app to alert emergency contacts in case something happens.
Google also makes it easy to find relevant information about a nearby earthquake using Search. However, Google hopes the system will detect them early enough to alert users and keep them safe. The system is already available in California and Oregon and is now rolling out in New Zealand and Greece. It will come to Android users in Washington State in May. Anyone who does not wish to be part of the Android Earthquake Alerts System will be able to turn the feature off in their device location settings.