A landmark year for California earthquakes, 2019 was full of disaster, sans-preparedness. UC Berkeley's Seismological lab is working to give people state-wide a heads-up next time a quake comes their way — seconds before they can even feel the shaking. The proposed solution lies within the new MyShake app.
"The [shaking] detection system is called ShakeAlert, underlying the entire system," said Richard Allen, director of the lab. "Once an alert has been generated, the MyShake app delivers that alert to individuals."
After MyShake, which is similar to apps covering other parts of the world, identifies which phones are in the earthquake's reach, it pushes an alert out to those close enough to feel the shaking based on phone location.
The technology is still a work in progress. California has a ShakeAlert service solely for Los Angeles as well — but it didn't pay off during July's surprise earthquakes when many people complained they weren't notified.
"What happened [in LA] was an important lesson to be learned by everybody involved in earthquake early warnings," Allen said. "What happened in Ridgecrest was the threshold for when an alert gets pushed out to phones was set up relatively high at shaking intensity four. The ShakeAlert system didn't estimate that there was going to be shaking at level four across L.A."
The MyShake app is programmed to recognize a much lower level of shaking, making it more likely that Californians will receive a warning notification next time an earthquake is on its way. West Coasters can download the app on both iPhone and Android to be eligible for alerts.