The seismologists of Berkeley University published an app, MyShake, back in February this year, which passively watches the seismic activity, both monitoring for earthquakes and warning the people if one is underway. Since the introduction, the MyShake app has outperformed its developer’s expectations and detected more than 200 earthquakes in over ten countries.
Nearly 200,000 people downloaded this app on their smartphones although the main hindrance of this app is that you have to sit idle to get good readings and thus a very people are currently active on this application at any given time. Having said that, the network of sensors of the MyShake application has proven quite effective in monitoring and predicting earthquakes in the last six months.
Talking about the app’s performance, Qingkai Kong, one of the creators of MyShake app told New Scientist, “We found that MyShake could detect large earthquakes, but also small ones, which we never thought would be possible.”
A paper published in the Geophysical Research Letters also beautifully demonstrated the app’s success and gives a general idea to us:
On a typical day about 8000 phones provide acceleration waveform data to the MyShake archive. The on-phone app can detect and trigger on P waves and is capable of recording magnitude 2.5 and larger events. The largest number of waveforms from a single earthquake to date comes from the M5.2 Borrego Springs earthquake in Southern California, for which MyShake collected 103 useful three-component waveforms. The network continues to grow with new downloads from the Google Play store everyday and expands rapidly when public interest in earthquakes peaks such as during an earthquake sequence.
The accelerometers placed in the modern day smartphones are the key technology behind this application and hundreds of them at different ranges and altitudes from the epicentre is the main resource for the seismologists. MyShake helps to issue a warning to those earthquake-prone areas and give the people a few extra seconds to prepare. The app also provides summaries of the recent earthquakes around the globe and warns the users to beware of those ones which has previous histories.