Google’s Android Earthquake Alert Faces Challenges in Detecting Recent North India Tremors, Raises Questions

New Delhi, October 4, 2023 – Google’s recently launched Android Earthquake Alert system faced criticism for its failure to detect the strong tremors that shook parts of north India, including Delhi-NCR, on Tuesday. The earthquake, originating in Nepal and measuring 6.2 on the Richter Scale, came just days after Google introduced the service in India on September 27. Users expected to receive early alerts on their Android devices, but the system seemed to have ‘failed’ in its objective.

One possible reason for this failure could be the gradual rollout of the service. While Google announced its launch on September 27, the company noted that it would be rolled out to all Android 5+ users “during the coming week.” This suggests that the feature may not have been accessible to the majority of Android users in India at the time of the earthquake.

Google’s Android Earthquake Alert system relies on the built-in accelerometers in Android smartphones, which can function as mini-seismometers. When a phone is plugged in and charging, it can detect the initial signs of an earthquake. If multiple phones in the same area detect earthquake-like shaking simultaneously, the system estimates that an earthquake is occurring and measures its characteristics, including the epicenter and magnitude. Advance warnings are then sent to nearby Android devices, now available in local languages as well.

However, there are limitations to the system, as reported by News18. It may not detect all earthquakes, and there could be errors in magnitude estimation and shaking intensity.

To use this feature, users need to have Wi-Fi and/or cellular data connectivity, along with both Android Earthquake Alerts and location settings enabled. It’s also worth noting that users have the option to choose not to receive these alerts.

The recent incident raises questions about the effectiveness and reliability of Google’s Android Earthquake Alert system and highlights the importance of a comprehensive and robust earthquake detection and alerting infrastructure, especially in regions prone to seismic activity.

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