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MyShake can alert users before the next earthquake occurs

MyShake can alert users before the next earthquake occurs


In the event of a major earthquake, even seconds of warning can make all the difference when it comes to safety. When a 5.1-magnitude earthquake hit the Bay Area on Tuesday morning, some residents received exactly that — up to 18 seconds of warning that the area was about to shake.

For those who have the MyShake app on their smartphone, an alert tagged with “critical” pops up, warning users to “drop, cover and hang” seconds before the vibration starts.

Richard Allen, director of the Seismology Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, said 95,000 devices received the alert on Tuesday, and that new downloads for the app have surged since the earthquake. Allen didn’t have the exact numbers he could give, but on Tuesday said the app had crossed 2 million downloads and according to the App Store, there are more than 2.3 million downloads as of publication.

A person checks the MyShake app, which alerted 95,000 devices of an earthquake in the Bay Area on Tuesday.

Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

Tuesday was a great test for the system, Allen said, as the 5.1-magnitude quake caused minimal damage. “The earthquake early warning system is still new, and the number of warnings issued in the Gulf region is relatively small,” he said. “This was a big deal, and it worked out great today. We are all really happy.”

The earthquake occurred at 11:42 a.m. at a depth of four miles just south of Mount Hamilton in the hills 12 miles east of downtown San Jose, according to the US Geological Survey. The farther the phone is from the epicenter, the more seconds it will receive a warning.

As of publication, there were 7,199 experience reports submitted by MyShake users who were in the earthquake’s impact zone when it occurred. A total of 4,337 users reported ‘mild shaking’, 1326 users reported ‘moderate shaking’ and 1371 users reported no shaking at all. Users who report their experience are also asked to report building damage and nearby road damage.

MyShake debuted in 2019 and was developed by the Berkeley Seismology Lab. It “collects motion data from your phone’s sensors and uses a patented neural network to determine if that motion fits an earthquake model” and is run as a partnership between the University of California at Berkeley, the US Geological Survey and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. This story was contributed by SFGATE News Editor Amy Graff.




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