LA’s Early Earthquake Warning App Now Available
The long-awaited ShakeAlertLA app is finally here! The app functions as an early earthquake warning system, notifying users up to one minute before a large earthquake occurs.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti made the official announcement on Thursday.
“Angelenos should have every chance to protect themselves and their families when there’s a major earthquake,” Garcetti said in a statement. “We created the ShakeAlertLA app because getting a few seconds’ heads-up can make a big difference if you need to pull to the side of the road, get out of an elevator, or drop, cover, and hold on.”
What ShakeAlertLA Does:
The impressive app was developed by Garcetti’s office, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), AT&T, and the Annenberg Foundation.
In addition to sending out early earthquake warning alerts – for quakes that are 5.0 magnitude or larger — the app has a map section that shows all of the recent local earthquakes in Los Angeles.
This isn’t the first innovation of its kind. Countries like Mexico and Japan have also implemented similar systems using sensors throughout the region that can detect seismic activity before it surfaces. Both countries have seen success with the applications, which have provided residents with enough time to shelter in place, duck and cover or evacuate dangerous areas.
The app does have limitations. After California suffered its recent, devastating wildfires there was heavy criticism of the how some phone alerts were received too late … especially to people in the affected areas. That’s because one of the biggest limitations of these apps falls on the wireless carries and their ability to deliver notifications during times of heavy activity.
Future of ShakeAlert:
A Santa Monica-based lab is also working on a similar application, named Quake Alert, that would feature a location-based countdown to the earthquake, depending on how far the individual is from the epicenter of the seismic activity.
“The City of LA is an important ShakeAlert partner, undertaking the nation’s first test of delivering USGS-generated ShakeAlerts to a large population using a city-developed cell phone app,” said James Reilly, USGS director. “What we learn from this expanded pilot in LA will be applied to benefit the entire current and future ShakeAlert system.”
The next step in ShakeAlert’s limited release is to test its regional effectiveness first, and then eventually expand to the entire West Coast.
In addition to staying up-to-date on the latest earthquake news, it’s important to be proactive about earthquake preparation and safety. Julian De La Torre is an expert in Los Angeles foundation inspection, foundation repair, foundation replacement and earthquake retrofitting.
Julian’s company, Julian Construction, has inspected over 30,000 structures, working with engineering firms and local departments of building & safety. The company has done more foundation repair and earthquake retrofitting in Los Angeles than any other company in the area over the last five years.