A team from UC Berkeley has released a new app that could help prevent some injury claims by predicting tremors from an earthquake.
Using the accelerometer that is an integral part of many smartphones, the MyShake app transmits vibrations from a phone to a data center. The information is then combined with the data from millions of other phones and in the event of an imminent earthquake being detected , the user will be warned to get to safety before a potentially larger tremor occurs.
"The accelerometers in the smartphones are actually similar to the ones used in seismology," Qingkai Kong, one of the senior members of the team told Aljazeera.
"Even though they are relatively low quality, we thought there's a potential to use them to detect earthquakes.”
A spokesman for the British Geology survey told the news service that an app equipped phone would give more warning to those further away from the epicenter of any quake. "If the earthquake is 300km away, you might get a couple of minutes advance warning," he said.
"If you live close to an earthquake fault, the interval will be very short indeed, so the question is: what can you do with early warning amounting to some seconds?"
The research team, however was quick to point out the advantages of being able to shut down strategic or at risk services within seconds. A similar device already operates on the Japanese Bullet train system to shut down the high-speed vehicle if tremors are detected.