California’s first earthquake warning system reported 2.2 million people from the Bay Area earthquake
There were no reports of major damage or injuries associated with the earthquake, which was centered in the Seven Trees community and was felt in large parts of Northern California. The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), which manages the earthquake warning system on behalf of the state, continues to coordinate closely with local officials in the affected area to assess any issues or unmet needs.
Due to the success of Tuesday’s performance, the Earthquake Early Warning System saw more than 108,000 new downloads of the MyShake app in a single day, a record.
In addition to emergency alerts sent to individuals via MyShake and Android, core technology is also used to automate protective measures such as slowing trains, opening fire doors, calling elevators, closing water and gas valves as well as closing bridge gates and notifying staff in the school and medical community.
“As California faces fires, droughts, and even a global pandemic, the single biggest threat we face to life and property in our state is a major earthquake in one of our major population centers,” said Mark Gilarducci, Cal OES Director. “Tuesday was another important step in testing our technology but there is still work to prepare for the next big step.”
The warnings delivered through the system are based on a computer program called ShakeAlert, run by the US Geological Survey (USGS) in partnership with Cal OES that analyzes data from California’s seismic networks, calculates initial magnitudes, and then estimates which areas will feel the shaking.
In 2019, on the 30th anniversary of the deadly Loma Prieta earthquake, Governor Newsom announced the launch of the first statewide earthquake early warning system.
The California Earthquake Early Warning System combines a smartphone app with traditional alarm and warning delivery methods such as Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). The system uses ground motion sensors from across the state to detect earthquakes before humans can even feel them.
Building on this success of the Governor 2019 launch, in 2020, Governor Newsom announced a partnership with Google to integrate California earthquake early warning technology into all Android smartphones.
To date, more than two million users have downloaded the MyShake app in California.
To learn more about earthquake preparedness and download an earthquake early warning app, visit: www.earthquake.ca.gov.
How to receive alerts
To receive earthquake warnings, there are three ways for individuals and families to receive alerts through the California Earthquake Warning System.
MyShake App: A free smartphone app that provides iPhone users with audio and visual warnings, available in English and Spanish. Android Earthquake Alerts: Android phones with updated operating systems are automatically subscribed to Android Earthquake Alerts, which uses the same technology as the MyShake app; Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs): Free emergency text messages are sent through the nationwide system to provide life-saving information to California
The MyShake app launched its latest improvement called HomeBase in 2022. This feature allows users to set a default location where they can receive earthquake early warning alerts, even if location services are temporarily disabled or turned off.
This will increase MyShake’s ability to send out timely alerts so that earthquake-affected Californians can receive warnings at a location of their choice and prepare for the shaking.
To activate the HomeBase function, users have to update their MyShake app and go to the settings page, where they will find the “Add HomeBase Location” button.
The HomeBase feature differs from a functionality already in the app where users can receive earthquake notifications for other locations, even in other countries. For example, if users want to receive notifications about earthquakes occurring at the residence of family or friends, they can add these locations under Settings > Notifications.
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