USGS rolls out new update to ‘ShakeAlert’ app to detect earthquakes earlier – NBC Los Angeles

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has announced a new update to its earthquake alert app, which aims to provide advance warnings seconds before some of the strongest earthquakes strike.

The ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Detection system can detect earthquakes of any size, but this update allows the agency to determine the magnitude of the largest earthquakes more quickly so that alerts can be sent to people’s phones more quickly.

“Seismic stations tell us how fast the ground is moving and these other stations tell us how far the ground is moving. By looking at them both together, we can get a better idea of ​​how those large earthquakes will affect a region,” he says. Robert de Groot, operational team leader for ShakeAlert. “So we have seismometers that record the ground motions, we move that information to a processing center in a split second, we process it and then we start sending the information to people’s phones within seconds.”

De Groot said many factors will play a role in determining how users get an advance warning on their phone

“One of the factors that determines when people get an alert on their phone is how far they are from the epicenter of the earthquake,” says de Groot. “Seconds is generally what people get before they feel the strongest vibration, and that’s basically as long as it takes for people to take that protective action to drop, cover and hold on to be safe.”

As new technology evolves, the ShakeAlert team is also working with hospitals and transportation teams to ensure immediate automated steps are also taken.

“We continue to expand automated actions like slowing trains and opening fire station doors, so we’re also working on LA Metro, Cedar Sinai and other MetroLink to perform those automated actions to slow those trains without involving humans involved,” he says. said. “A fraction of a section to shut down that generator and open the firehouse door will be valuable. Not only during the earthquake itself, but also after the earthquake is over.”

ShakeAlert early detection technology is now found throughout the West Coast and can serve as a safety tool for approximately 50 million permanent residents and tourists. The technology is currently in California, Oregon and Washington.