The nation’s first publicly available earthquake early warning mobile application was officially launched Thursday by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who said the program could help save lives by potentially providing critical seconds of warning before shaking actually starts.
The ShakeAlertLA app is designed to send a warning to anyone who has downloaded it and is within Los Angeles County when sensors placed by the U.S. Geological Survey detect that an earthquake of magnitude 5.0 or greater is striking.
“We often say here in Los Angeles that it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when the next big one is going to hit. We know that we live in earthquake country,” Garcetti said a City Hall news conference.
ShakeAlertLA is a pilot project that was developed in collaboration with the USGS, AT&T and the Annenberg Foundation, although the app works on all major mobile networks and is an open-sourced technology that Garcetti said he hoped other cities and counties would use to develop their own systems.
“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 application launched on the Apple and Google Play stores on Dec. 31 after more than a decade of research and development led by the USGS. Garcetti said the app will continue to be developed and improved after the rollout.
“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.
ShakeAlertLA was made possible by a $260,000 grant from the Annenberg Foundation in 2017, Garcetti’s office said.
“We all know that the past couple of years has given us many stark reminders that emergencies do not announce themselves beforehand. They just happen, and they happen fast,” said Cinny Kennard, the foundation’s executive director.
The ShakeAlertLA app can be accessed at Mayor.LA/3pwx30nakMm. 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.
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