Long-awaited earthquake early warning app for L.A. can now be downloaded

Source(s): Los Angeles Times

By Rong-Gong Lin II

Los Angeles has unveiled its long-anticipated earthquake early warning app for Android and Apple smartphones, which is now available for download.

ShakeAlertLA, an app created under the oversight of Mayor Eric Garcetti and the city, is designed to work with the U.S. Geological Survey’s earthquake early warning system, which has been under development for years. It’s designed to give users seconds — perhaps even tens of seconds — before shaking from a distant earthquake arrives at a user’s location.


Warnings could soon be made more broadly available statewide. Josh Bashioum, founder of the Santa Monica company Early Warning Labs, which has been closely working with the USGS, said it hopes to release a beta version of its app, QuakeAlert, to as many as 100,000 test users across California soon.


The system is not likely to be perfect, especially in its first few years of service. As residents of Japan, Mexico and other places that already have the alerts have learned, the system comes with false alarms and missed warnings. And early warnings probably won’t be possible for users at the epicenter of a quake.

Yet the early warning systems have had tremendous support in other countries because the benefits when the systems work far outweigh the disappointments. The system helped prevent deadly derailments of high-speed trains in Japan before shaking arrived from the magnitude 9.1 earthquake of 2011, for instance, signaling the trains to slow down. Memorably, the national Japanese broadcaster NHK aired an earthquake warning about 90 seconds before the strongest shaking arrived in Tokyo.


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Hazards Earthquake
Themes Early warning
Country and region United States of America
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