You, your smartphone and the Big One: How to digitally prepare for the next big earthquake
By Seung Lee
As evidenced in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico following three different hurricanes, disasters can wipe away Wi-Fi and cellular data infrastructure, making modern technology obsolete. Twenty-eight years ago Tuesday, the 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta Earthquake did major damage to the Bay Area — albeit at a time when the internet was not prevalent. And this month we have seen ravaging wildfires in the North Bay wipe out smartphone and internet service.
But some forward thinking and a few smartphone apps can be a valuable companion to navigate a disaster and its aftermath — even when there is little to no data connection.
“We try to tell people it’s important to have a plan,” said Jennifer Strauss, UC Berkeley’s Seismology Lab’s external relations officer. “With all the tech we are exposed to, we get caught up in the idea that everything is readily available. Tech goes hand in hand with preparedness.”
Strauss and her team in Berkeley in 2016 launched the MyShake app, which allows smartphones to detect earthquakes using built-in sensors and send warning alerts to users near the shaking. Akin to step-counting fitness apps, MyShake runs silently in the background looking for seismic tremors and collecting data.
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