LA launches first early warning earthquake app in the U.S.

By Folake Dosu  |  January 9, 2019

IoT-Los-Angeles-earthquake-warning-app

Internet of Things technology is changing how we approach civic infrastructure and disaster response is one way sensors are helping cities keep residents safe.

According to Curbed, Los Angeles has become the first U.S. city to launch a publicly available earthquake early warning app.

Using a network of seismic sensors installed throughout the region to detect earthquakes, ShakeAlertLA dispatches a warning to smartphone users when shaking is predicted to occur in the area for quakes at magnitude 5.0 or larger.

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office developed the app, which is available in English and Spanish for iOs and Android smartphones, in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, AT&T, and the Annenberg Foundation. 

Curbed notes that other countries such as Mexico and Japan have long since implemented similar warning systems that have been critical in preventing serious injuries and deaths.

“Angelenos should have every chance to protect themselves and their families when there’s a major earthquake. We created the ShakeAlertLA app because getting a few seconds’ heads-up can make a big difference if you need to pull to the side of the road, get out of an elevator, or drop, cover, and hold on.”

“Angelenos should have every chance to protect themselves and their families when there’s a major earthquake,” said Garcetti in a statement. “We created the ShakeAlertLA app because getting a few seconds’ heads-up can make a big difference if you need to pull to the side of the road, get out of an elevator, or drop, cover, and hold on.”

The sensor network feeding seismic data to the app is over a decade in the making. The U.S. Geological Survey worked in tandem with universities and research institutions to obtain funding and build the sensor network. Tight federal budgets forced a narrower scope from the original being the entire West Coast, but USGS plans to expand after tests at the regional level.

“The City of LA is an important ShakeAlert partner, undertaking the nation’s first test of delivering USGS-generated ShakeAlerts to a large population using a city-developed cell phone app,” said James Reilly, USGS director, in a press release. “What we learn from this expanded pilot in LA will be applied to benefit the entire current and future ShakeAlert system.”

Learn MoreWhat is the Internet of Things? A guide to IoT.

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