Earthquakes are a natural disaster that can be quite catastrophic to say the least. The problem lies with the detection and issuing warning regarding the earth-shaking tremors. Keeping this in mind, a team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and Deutsche Telekom’s Silicon Valley Innovation Center has developed an application. This free Android application transforms smartphones into earthquake detectors.
The application has been named as MyShake and employs the use of accelerometers for detection of tremors and warning scientists within milliseconds of detection of one. As per the team, by making use of a sufficiently large network of smartphones running the application, users can be warned about imminence of earthquake in their region.
By making use of MyShake, every smartphone becomes a mini cell in a huge network of earthquake detection system. Scientists have stated that an algorithm had to be developed to differentiate between actual earthquakes from false alarms that could be triggered due to everyday shakes and tremors (jumping around or sudden movement while holding your smartphone).
Another hurdle that the team had to overcome was the case of battery consumption and that’s where Deutsche Telekom comes in. Richard Allen, director of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory at the University of California said, “As seismologists we are always struggling to think about how to collect more data about earthquakes. We’re data-limited in our finds. We need more data so that we can understand the physics of earthquake processes so that we can better predict what will happen in future earthquakes, and so that we can build better buildings, and think of other strategies to reduce the effects of future earthquakes.”
After detecting a tremor, MyShake transmits the date to a central server located at the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory. The transmitted data includes the location of tremor along with time and magnitude. The data is then incorporated into reports that are comprised of hundreds of thousands of such transmitted data packets from various users using MyShake. This allows scientists for issuing a warning to users regarding earthquakes before they hit. For this warning system to be effective, it is necessary that the network grows and becomes sufficiently large enough for collecting enough data to be able to predict an earthquake.
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