Google wants to turn Android phones into the world's largest earthquake detection network

Google wants 2.5 billion Android phones to build the world's largest earthquake detection networkUnsplash
  • Google wants to build the world’s largest earthquake detection network using Android smartphones.
  • The phones already have acceleration sensors that can serve as mini-seismometers.
  • Smartphones across the world will send data back to Google’s servers, which it will then compare, to determine whether there was an actual earthquake or not.
Google wants to build the world’s largest earthquake detection network, and it is going to use every available Android smartphone on the planet to do it. Last year, the total number of active Android devices across the planet crossed 2.5 billion.

Google wants to use Android phones across the planet to build the world's largest earthquake detection systemGoogle

Each smartphone already comes with tiny accelerometers, which is how Google Maps can estimate how fast you’re driving down the highway. Those same sensors can be used to detect earthquakes, each serving as a mini-seismometer.

It is not always possible to deploy an actual ground network of seismometers in every nook and cranny of the world. With smartphones doing the heavy lifting, it may no longer be necessary either.

How will Google find out if there’s an earthquake?
If a phone detects an earthquake, it will send a signal back to Google’s earthquake detection server. This means your phone’s location at that particular point of time will be shared with the tech giant.

Google says it needs the location in order to compare the information with incoming data from other phones to determine if an earthquake is really happening. “We’re essentially racing the speed of light against the speed of an earthquake. And lucky for us, the speed of light is much faster,” the company said in a statement.

How will Google use this information?
To begin with, Google will use the collated data to pump up its results on Google Search. If you search for ‘earthquake’ or ‘earthquake near me’, Google will be able to determine if there have actually been any tremors along with helpful resources on what to do after.

In the US, Google has collaborated with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to send earthquake alerts to users in the state using the ShakeAlert system.

Google is launching earthquake alerts in CaliforniaGoogle

Over the coming year, Google plans to roll out the earthquake alert system to more countries across the world using Android’s phone-based earthquake detection.


In addition to earth detection, Google’s latest operating system update also includes Android Emergency Location Service (ELS), Android Auto for cars, and a new ‘bedtime’ mode to keep phones alert-free as users sleep.

After Jio, India's unicorn startups are the top target for Chinese hackers trying to get their hands on Indian users' data

Meet the makers of Motera Stadium — the same company that designed Melbourne Cricket Ground and sections of Lord’s

HAL's share price jumps 4% after India approves defence projects worth $1.2 billion