Google's been rolling out a new earthquake alert and detection system that harnesses the vast number of Android devices in the wild, and now it's set to expand to more markets after landing on phones in New Zealand and Greece earlier this year. Starting today, the Android Earthquake Alerts System is available in seven more markets: Turkey, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. On top of that, Google promises that "most countries" will get it by 2022.
The rollout of this feature is a bit complicated to discuss because Google has two versions of this: Earthquake alerts based on third-party data and alerts based on crowdsourced data gathered from Android phones in an area. Today's announcement is for the (cooler) latter feature.
This system harnesses the vast network of Android phones to gather information, sort of like how Google pulls in traffic data based on the movement or congestion of Android devices in an area. In a way, each Android phone is like a tiny seismometer, given all the sensors they pack inside. Google harnesses that data in bulk to detect the early indications of an earthquake and send out alerts to those that might be impacted.
Today, the Android Earthquake Alerts System expands to Turkey, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Google also promises to expand the feature a little more aggressively than it has so far, rolling out to "most countries" in the first half of 2022. So far, the crowdsourced system has only been available in New Zealand and Greece. Android earthquake alerts in places like Oregon, Washington, and California are based on the USGS's ShakeAlert data, and it remains to be seen if the crowdsourced system will come to the US.