Few Seconds Alert Makes All the Difference

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A unique mobile app designed to alert residents in Los Angeles County of an earthquake has been unveiled. The ShakeAlertLA app is designed to send push notifications that an earthquake has occurred, potentially giving residents critical seconds of notice before shaking reaches them.
ShakeAlertLA developed by AT&T and the City of Los Angeles is a pilot project designed to alert users when seismic activity equal to or greater than magnitude 5.0 is detected by a regional sensor network. It includes maps that help users visualize the earthquake’s epicenter in relation to where they are.
The free app also has tools to build a readiness plan, equip citizens with local response information and deliver details on support services for recovery efforts.
LA Mayor Garcetti said: “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.”
The development is based on seismic data from a West Coast-wide network of sensors that detect earthquakes. The sensors are placed along fault lines and send data to US Geological Survey (USGS) scientists. When an earthquake strikes, information is sent to the app and pushed as an alert to active app subscribers.
The farther an app user is from the epicenter of an earthquake, the greater the warning that user may receive, while a user who is located closer to the epicenter may receive less warning. Users may receive the alert before, during, or after shaking.
When an earthquake happens, the app will send a warning notification that can help residents and city officials take protective actions like taking cover from falling debris and halting public transit systems to limit damage and injuries.
The app can also help in the aftermath of an earthquake, when residents can use it to find various emergency services like where to seek shelter if your home is damaged or unsafe.
“ShakeAlertLA brings together a wealth of information that is easy-to-access and user-friendly for consumers,” said Rhonda Johnson, President of AT&T California. “Mobile technology is being used more to provide fast, available information.”
The technology is part of a public-private collaboration in the smart city context. The aim is to solve problems such as traffic congestion and public safety. AT&T and LA are looking to deploy Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, ranging from digital kiosks to structural monitoring to digital infrastructure, across the city, by providing better connectivity to neighborhoods that have been traditionally left behind in the digital divide.