There are hundreds of fault lines in California and over 70% of Californians live within a fault line that can create a hazardous earthquake in the next 50 years. California is developing groundbreaking new technologies to track, anticipate, and prepare for significant earthquakes. In 2019, California developed the first statewide earthquake warning system—the MyShake app. The app was a collaboration amongst the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), UC Berkeley Seismology Lab, and the United States Geological Survey and is publicly available through the Apple store or the Android’s Google Play Store.
The UC Berkeley Seismology Lab first developed the MyShake app. It’s a useful tool that provides Californians with important early earthquake warning notifications when an earthquake of a magnitude of 4.5 or higher is detected nearby. It also utilizes innovative technology to empower every phone user to become their own “citizen seismologist,” contributing to the data and creating a public safety network for the earthquake-prone area. To do this, the MyShake app utilizes location services to collect data from the user’s phone motion sensor. It compares that to the neural network to decide which motion is produced by earthquakes and which isn’t. If an earthquake is detected, the app automatically records the shaking to collect valuable data that can help seismologists at UC Berkeley and throughout the state. To remain connected to Californians who may be reluctant to enable location services, MyShake also created an update called “HomeBase.” Homebase allows users to select a default location to receive earthquake early warning alerts, even if location services are temporarily down or turned off.
As of January 2022, the MyShake app has expanded its early earthquake warning system and technology to the state of Washington and Oregon. More earthquake-prone states can benefit greatly from the MyShake technology. The precious seconds it gives its users can be life-saving.