Google has announcedthat will use the accelerometers in Android smartphones around the world for early detection of earthquakes. The smartphone will be uploaded to the company server signals similar to P-waves, which propagate most rapidly, then the server analyzes the data from one area and send an emergency notification to the people in it.
Traditionally, the detection of earthquakes are used by observation stations with high-precision seismographs. In some cases, they allow us to predict the probable earthquake, and if it starts, they give little time to warn people. The fact that the earthquake consists of the seismic waves of different types: P-waves reach the surface first, and after some time followed by S-waves and surface waves, bringing maximum destruction. At the observation stations and the system alerts people near the epicenter, there is a few seconds or tens of seconds, which may be enough to at least find shelter inside the house or run outside.
However, the construction and operation of a large network of observation stations is expensive, so a few years ago, researchers proposed to solve the problem through citizen science: to install on a smartphone app that will analyze the readings of the accelerometer and in case of suspicion at the beginning of the earthquake to send them to the processing system signals. This system is fairly well established: for the first six months of work she discovered more than 400 earthquakes. But it has a fundamental drawback: it is made in the form of applications that people have to install voluntarily, and many do not even know about it.
Google solved this problem by implementing algorithms that detect seismic waves in the Android operating system. In the first phase, the smartphone will work in passive mode: will collect the data and send to server for processing, but they will not be used for alerts. Instead, users will be able to see the search query “earthquake” (or similar) information that the area may be an earthquake, an approximate map of places in which was discovered the seismic waves, and the question is, did the user pushes.
In the second stage, after collecting the data and training algorithms, the system will be deployed in active mode. If a lot of smartphones in one area will find similar to P – or S-wave motion, Google will send a full screen notification with instructions to shelter inside the building and information about the earthquake: intensity and distance from the epicenter.
Since the detection algorithms waves-candidates are constantly working in the background and use up processing power, they will be active only when the smartphone is charging and not in use. In addition, the system only works if the user has enabled “Google Location services” in settings. The system will work on the already released smartphones that use Google Play services (in fact, almost all Android smartphones, with the exception of local Chinese) and installed the Android version 5.0 or higher.
Also, Google announced that it is now working together with the California warning system on earthquakes and will send residents of the state of notice upon detection of the dangerous seismic waves.
Smartphones allow you to implement other projects on citizen science. For example, wasthat the application is to collect data about dangerous mosquito-borne disease works less efficiently than usual research mosquito traps, but it costs a lot less.