A phone app that alerts Los Angeles County residents to earthquakes, potentially providing critical seconds of warning before shaking actually starts, will be officially unveiled Thursday, but the feature is already available for download.
“Earthquakes are a matter of when — not if. We’re officially launching #ShakeAlertLA tomorrow, and today you can become one of the first to use our early warning technology,” according to a statement on Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Twitter account.
The ShakeAlertLA app will be officially unveiled during a City Hall news conference Thursday, but the app is already available for download on many mobile phones. The app can be accessed at Mayor.LA/3pwx30nakMm.
The app only provides alerts for quakes of magnitude 5.0 or greater in Los Angeles County. It is the nation’s first publicly available earthquake early warning mobile app, and was developed as part of a pilot program with the U.S. Geological Survey, AT&T and The Annenberg Foundation.
“You may receive the alert before, during or after shaking,” the app tells users. “Take protective action as soon as you receive an alert or feel or hear an earthquake. Drop, cover and hold on.”
The mobile app is designed to provide advance notice that an earthquake is about to strike through a text or other electronic means. It works with the system known as ShakeAlert, which is based on a network of in-ground sensors developed by USGS to detect seismic activity.
“ShakeAlert is NOT a prediction that an earthquake will occur. It signals that an earthquake has started and you may feel shaking. This app is meant to help provide alerts for your safety,” according to the app.
The City Council in June approved the negotiation of a $300,000 contract with AT&T and the GRYD Foundation for the design, creation and deployment of the Early Earthquake Warning System Mobile Application.
In addition to providing quake alerts, the app also includes tips on preparing for and recovering from a quake. It also includes a listing and map of recent quakes.